Monday, May 6, 2013


When I was eighteen I used to walk home from work. At the time I was working at a health club as a lifeguard. Usually in the summer heat I had on a wet bathing suit, shorts, and wet hair. During my jaunts home I remember feeling the dirt from the busy road and the mac trucks brush against me. Sometimes depending on the dust amount it stained my legs. My days were spent in the pool, and then either to Plato's Attic in South Park Shops or other destinations.

That summer was the first time I felt sassified and sexified. I had never been a pretty kid growing up. Guys asked me either for answers or out as a joke. My parents didn't let me date. It seemed this was a mission of theirs to make me man proof. Oh and I had puppets, lots of them. Most of the time I was buttoned up, completely covered, and the farthest thing from hot. In high school I was popular because I had a public access TV show (Wayne's World all the way, kind of...), wrote for the local paper, and was in the plays. I had friends who played football, friends who were cheerleaders, friends on the A list so to speak. But when Friday night came, I was dateless. That summer was different though.

I was working as a lifeguard and there were a plethora of dirty, older men who would come to the pool. One was named Tony. He was a divorcee with a terrible tan who found out I was legal. Tony promised to take me to Fantasy Land one night. I asked him where that was and he looked at me blankly. It was a good question. Fantasy Land is not a stop on the map. I don't believe it is in any city aside from the male mind.

Tony had a friend Rick. Like Tony, Rick was divorced. He wasn't quite as shallow though. Rick had two kids from a marriage destroyed by his addiction to painkillers. Before getting a felony he was a successful exec. I remember him telling me this one morning in the steam room. He told me I was beautiful. A guy had never said that to me before ever. Rick was also attending NA with the brother of a friend of mine who had gotten mixed up with heroin, and often gave the kid rides home. He told me my friend's baby bro, who was fifteen, felt like he could never be the person anyone wanted him to be. That made me feel sad in a way. Maybe this is why I have a soft spot for men who can't get it together. I dunno.

And then there was Mr. Hoffman. This was the Duke of Dirty Old Men. Mr. Hoffman was a guidance counselor one town over. We started as friends because his daughter had been into musical theatre. Anyway, Mr. Hoffman informed me that he would teach me anything I ever needed to know about sex. In his words, "You need an old pro like myself so that when you get someone you care about, you know what you are doing." Mr. Hoffman would also try to fake heart attacks in the steam room in order to try to trick me into giving him a hand job. It never worked. My mom was my boss and this would have been awkward. I later found out Mr. Hoffman had a reputation for doing this to troubled young girls he was supposed to be helping and was often in hot water with his union so to speak. At the time I felt special. I guess I was just one of many notches in his imagination.

The King of Dirty Old Men was Charlie. Yes, he had an antique car and a wife who was severely religious and controlling. When Charlie got out of the house he took advantage of it. Charlie too often faked heart attacks in the steam room in order to get a hand job. But he stepped up his game by trying to get me to come into the hot tub so he could feel me up. One time he even pretended to be drowning in order to get CPR. Charlie invited me on a road trip in his antique car. Part of me wanted to go. Part of me was scared he would have a real heart attack and I would be stranded as his sex slave. One time Charlie even brought his son to the pool. They double teamed which was insane.

Usually on my walks home I stopped by the car lot to talk to the guys. Most of the time they were smoking cigarettes. We talked about cars a lot. That is the thing about mechanics, they are always in car land. While I may have been book smart, I was a shit driver. That is why I think I have always been attracted to guys who are street smart and good drivers. Of course they were all tattooed. One even had the name of an ex tattooed on his arm. That is always the kiss of death in any relationship.

The crazy thing about hanging out with mechanics is that they always look at other people's driving and start to rate it. Once we were chilling and this car drove by. They were like, "Oh, what a terrible driver." And then the next car, "Someone needs their breaks checked." This is why I never would ever say a mechanic is dumb. A good mechanic is very bright. I learned this during that summer and during my walks home.

Before I hit the car lot I used to pass Danny's Hoagies. A lot of the stoner guys hung out there. Usually they wore things that made their ears stretch. Some of them even worked on the car lot. Their cars were usually pimped out to the max. As a matter of fact, some of them were so paranoid when it came to their vehicles that they wouldnt let their girlfriends touch it. I usually ended up talking to their girlfriends and them on my walks. I always found we were fast friends. Maybe I wasn't a stoner but I treated them like people and that's all they wanted.

When I usually left the industrial area I was back in my residential neighborhood and back to my house. While it was nice to see flowers and sunshine there was a certain part of me that took to the grit. That took to the people. Maybe it was because in a way they were more real than any of the folks I had known in the National Honor Society.

My grandfather-my dad's dad-whom I never met was a master machinist in the mills. We believe this is where my sister got her attention to detail and quick skill with her hands. He worked in basically an oven all day, and sometimes even worked nights. This was back when Pittsburgh had mills. While my grandpap died before I was born, I think there is still a lot of that in my blood. I think this is why I relate to people who are brutally honest and tell the truth even if other people deem the as "mean." Maybe this is why a lot of my fans tend to be bikers and iron workers rather than the over educated hipsters. Maybe this is why I find myself able to deal with people who are "hard to get along with." It's that grit.

I find I drift towards things that are gritter. My comedy tends to be grittier. As a matter of fact, during my development as a performer I sort of have been adopted by urban comedians from time to time. While they scared the hell out of me when I first moved to the city, over time I took to them. And if you are serious about comedy-even if you are a smurf-they can be of great assistance to you. Then again, New York Comedy is more gritty in general. Maybe that is why I like it better than comedy from LA which is all nice, vegan, and pretty white people with deep pools and shallow problems.

I tend to drift towards idols who are grittier. Mae West is the most beautiful woman from the 1930s in my opinion, balls to the wall. I love Marilyn, and the vintage stuff as well. But she ain't gritty like Ms. West. Of course there are folks like Lana Turner and Bette Davis who I adore. They are like me, gritty. Balls to the wall. Not afraid to get dirty.

I think that part of my personality scared the hell out of some people when I moved to New York. I wasn't put together but rather sort of all over. I didn't believe in kissing ass. One of my acting teachers, one who I think slits her wrists when I am on TV, hated this about me. I remember doing a monologue that was based off of a Mae West play and she said I had an identity crisis. I just think her issue with me was that I wasn't willing to buy her bullshit front of a bitter woman angry that show business hadn't given her what she felt entitled to. Needless to say she got me in some trouble. Yes, I was nice and stupid like she wanted me to be rest of the semester. But so far I am making quite a career out of being ballsy. I hope she shoots herself in the feet and head when she sees me on TV. I hope I have some fans who brag about me when they walk through her door. I hope the bitch is forced to tell stories about me. Enough about her, I am given an untalented bug eyed hole an entire paragraph, more fame than she deserves to have.

Then again the grit scared the hell out of some people when I lived in Pittsburgh. There was one woman I worked with at the supermarket. Everyone gave her a pass because her kid had Downs. Anyway, she told my mother she didnt like the way I caked on my makeup like my old movie idols. She claimed she could help me. This woman was a cashier for minimum wage. She could barely help herself. My mom was totally flipped out by this big mouth. I told her that it was my makeup and my face. It wasn't like this woman was paying me. I guess it upset my mom because I am her kid. So I told my mom that this woman was obnoxious and basically everyone felt the same way. My mom was trying to find some gold lining, some good. I didnt see any. Thanks but no thanks lady. I didnt care then what people thought of me and don't care now. Trash talk, bring it.

I remember I made a friend who was like a big brother to me in comedy because I got onstage in front of a black crowd with a puppet. While it was lukewarm, I still did it. I was twenty years old and out of my mind. Years later he told me, "At that moment, you earned my respect because you were the bravest kid in the world. Not many people can do that in front of a black crowd." To me they were like anyone else. They just wanted to laugh.

Three years later I pulled the same stunt, except it was on national television and it was Jerry Springer. Sure I paid some but it made me a hero to others.

Sometimes I know my mother wishes I had some fear. Maybe I wouldnt be so stupid. Maybe I wouldnt hike on the side of the highways in the competition with the Mac Trucks like a man instead of a petite little girl. Maybe I would have more friends that were girls. Maybe I wouldnt be so attuned to the sexism in the world and willing to fight it by kicking ass instead of complaining. Maybe I would be father along because I played by the rules.

Or maybe I wouldn't be.

Today I had a very good conversation with a booker on the phone. I am trudging toward management again because a friend of mine-and I believe the universe speaks through Archie-told me to do it so I wouldn't lose my momentum. Anyway, today I got the balls to speak to one and we had a very nice conversation. He is a big deal and wants to help me out. I also spoke to some book people and it was promising. I wasn't afraid.

I think it is hiking on the high ways. I think it is the fact one of my favorite spots is the diner by The West Side High Way where you feel like you are in New York but not. I think it is the fact I get along so well with people who are real.

When I succeed it is not the charming young woman who prances around like a fool. Do not be fooled. I am from several generations of steel workers. I might hold a puppet instead of a tool as I slave in an oven. Make no mistake about it, there is some real grit in this blood.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Paperback available on Amazon and 877-Buy-Book
E-Book available on Kindle and Nook
Audiobook available on itunes and Audible this Spring
Portion of proceeds go to Greenpeace

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