Ok, that’s not the proper title for this piece at all. It should be Attack of the Genes, but I suppose that could be confusing as well. Some people might think it means, Attack of the Guys Named Gene.
I went with the misleading “Jeans” over “Genes” because I’m in love with the idea of the film, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I say in “love with the idea of” because I’ve never seen the damn thing. I’m afraid to watch it. I’m afraid that – much like the Grinch whose heart grows two sizes after being treated well by the whos of Whoville – after I watch The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants, my vagina will also grow two sizes. No woman needs an elephantiasis of the vagina. Life is hard enough.
So, I misled you and called the piece, Attack of the Jeans, when what I really meant was Attack of the Genetic Genes. But, Attack of the Jeans as homage to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a GOOD mislead. It’s a good mislead because it’s something that I find funny. And funny is important in what I’m about to discuss.
You see there’s something about me that gets all quivery inside and about-to-bursty when I hear the title Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I picture an over-the-top film moment where a group of women have this discussion…
Girl 1: Where are my pants? Did you take my freakin pants?
Girl 2: Well, yeah, I borrowed them for Europe…
Girl 1: You took my freakin pants to Europe? I wanted to go to Europe. You b*tch!
Girl 2: Jesus, well, why didn’t you come then?
Girl 1: (subdued) Oh, you mean I was invited?
Girl 2: Of course, you twat!
Girl 1: Oh, okay then. Where are the pants now?
Girl 2: I’m wearing them. (Girl 2 twirls to show off the magical pants.)
Girl 1: Did you sit in chocolate?
Girl 2: What? No….
Girl 1: Eww, then something horrible has happened.
Girl 2: (trying to see her own butt) What, are you serious?
Girl 1: No. I’m just annoyed you took the pants.
Girl 2 shoots her a look of death.
Now, this is not exactly what happens in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. However, it IS what I find funny.
You know what else I find funny?
Baby arms on adult humans. I’m sorry, but I can’t help it. There’s an SNL sketch where Kristen Wiig is playing a hideous looking woman who is a cast member of the Lawrence Welk show. She’s got a huge forehead and – you guessed it – baby arms. They achieved this effect by making the arms of Kristen’s dress extremely long. She’s holding baby doll arms in her hands, that poke out the ends of the dress, and give off the effect that these stunted limbs are her actual arms. I can not tell you what this does to me. I lose it. I am outside of myself. My body contorts, my insides squeal, my lungs contract and expand, and I guffaw and guffaw, like a hyena. It’s beautiful. Baby arms always have this effect on me. There’s another sketch where Rachel Dratch wears a baby arm sticking out the side of her head. A physical impossibility. However, same effect on me, it doesn’t matter. I go bananas.
Now, I love to laugh. For a long time, it was my living, my main bread and butter. In high school AND junior high, I was the class clown. A lot of times the class clown is a d*ck. I like to think that I was a compassionate class clown. Seriously, that’s what I think and I DO believe it’s possible. I like my humor to unite and not tear down. Unless the tearing down is of someone who needs to be stopped, i.e. – Donald Trump. Then I go for broke.
I think this kind of love for funny is genetic to some degree. My mother is the funny one. She is often hilarious. And she can be a big weirdo. I love this about her. She’ll come into the living room and pull her underwear up near her chin while I’m doing something and go, “Look, look, look…” until I have to look and she’ll keep them way up there until I laugh out loud. She’s committed or should be committed, I’m not sure.
My dad on the other hand is a cornball. I don’t consider him a funny guy. I consider him a smart and serious guy. He’s focused too…almost to the point of Aspergers.
So, I often sit here and wonder, how much did I get from him? I have his ears, his oval shaped head, and his stick-to-itiveness. That’s not that bad, but yesterday I was late.
I was late to a shoot and this opened up a whole other can of worms. I started to become overwhelmed by an unbelievable anxiety. I kept thinking negative things about myself over and over again, in my head, like on a loop. When I got to the shoot about 15 mins late (I hate being late, it’s my pet peeve.) my face was bright red and it took the makeup artist 45 mins to tune my skin down to a normal shade of human.
I kept thinking…is this how my dad thinks? He’s a very anxious guy. When we stop at a light and the light turns green, he doesn’t even wait one millisecond before he lays on the horn. I swear, someone’s going to get out of their car in front of us and scream at him or worse, one of these days. It always bothers me. I always find myself saying, “Dad, why do you have to honk? It hasn’t even been a second. The guy hasn’t even had the chance to move his foot from the brake to the gas.” This makes Dad angry. He bellows a this or a that and I’m always struck with one thought – he can’t help himself. It’s a compulsion.
Now, did he learn all this? Or did he get it from HIS parents. My paternal grandmother was a cantankerous woman. She had great qualities for sure, but nurturing didn’t really seem to be one of them. I have two memories that I feel illuminated a lot of my father’s experience with her. During one of them, grandma and I were having a conversation. We were talking about my profession. Comedy. I came to find out later – she had told her sister – that grandma said, “Why would a girl who’s so smart go into something like that?” So, that tells you what she thought of my industry. (In hindsight, I’m not so sure she’s wrong on that point.) But, that’s not what I’m talking about here. On this particular day, I had said, “I’m a writer” because I had written something or other on the interwebs way back when.
To which, my grandmother said, “You’re not a writer.”
Simple as that. Now, maybe she didn’t consider publications on the internet writing. Or maybe she was just mean. I don’t know.
The second incident went as follows:
A friend of mine and I were at her summer house visiting. The friend was asking to see pictures of me as a kid. I said to grandma something to the effect of, “Was I cute as a kid, Grandma?”
And she said, “You were all right.”
WHO SAYS THAT? I mean, Jesus, even if you think it – JUST FECKIN’ LIE!
Now, I always felt a touch removed from my grandmother even though she was the closest grandparent to me. So, this stuff never stung that much. But, I did think – Wow, if she said this sh*t to me, what the hell did she say to my dad growing up?
So, is his anxiety nature or nurture? Or in this case perhaps, un-nurture is a better word.
If I have a biological kid, I know I’ll have this duty to prepare him or her for what may come. That may include preparing my gayby for genes he may not be able to outrun – for an Attack of the Genes, if you will.
It may not be the easiest bag to carry. There may be a lot of things gayby will have to surmount through therapy or hard work or writing or whatever, but at the very least, I’m hoping, if all goes well — he or she will always have those baby arms.
Baby Arms and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. That should make all the other stuff – at least a little bit – easier to swallow. God willing.
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