More from Anthony Rhody’s book serial: “Does This Stress Make Me Look Fat?”
The early years:
Mistakes were made.
I was born when I was very small.
I weighed about 155 pounds less than I do now!
As you may’ve heard there was no room at the inn, but the concierge told my Father there was a Motel 6 just down the block and also a stable out back they were free to use.
They chose the stable.
Soon, three wise men plus a really smart O.B.G.Y.N. lady showed up.
I will spare you the usual gruesome details of child birth except that…
My Mother had a cesarean section because she wanted a womb with a view.
So, to sum up:
I was born in a manger and I’ve been grasping at straws ever since.
Father belonged to the Norwegian mafia and the less said about that the better.
Speaking of Father:
We were so poor, he did not allow me to stop turning tricks until high school!
We were so poor when I was really little I had to sleep on a crouton.
We were so poor, Mom had nothing to put in our Easter baskets except dust bunnies.
I was not Wisconsin’s first Dairy Queen but I was its first one to switch to soy milk.
However, I have not been a consumer of ice cream for over fifteen years so the point is moot.
I wasted no time in getting started with aberrant behavior.
One time – I think I was ten – Mother came home unexpectedly and walked in one me trying on one of her undergarments.
It was a Freudian slip.
Monday night was TV-dinner night and Tuesday was leftover TV-dinner night.
We called them “reruns.”
Actually I called them reruns and everyone laughed because laughs were so scarce and people who were clever were even scarcer.
Our favorite TV show for years was the puppet show, “Ku Klux Fran & Ollie.”
Of course I’m kidding.
I’m much too young to have ever watched that show unlike most of my siblings who were watching TV before there was color.
Being it was Wisconsin we had several tornado warnings each summer.
One August, due to a salmonella outbreak, we had instead a “tomato warning” and everybody ran to their basements for cover.
Ironically, that’s where the jars of tomatoes were put after the canning in the fall, which got cancelled due to the infestation.
The circle of life…
Mama would also can jams and jellies and they were so good us kids would say they were even better than Smuckers’ jams and jellies.
Mother’s Smuckers, we would call them, before getting a hard swat against our filthy mouths.
In graded school, once I learned how to suck up to the teachers, I got straight A’s and the irony was lost on no one.
First time I remember getting into trouble in school was art class.
The teacher introduced us to finger-painting and I just assumed that meant paint someone giving the finger – so that’s what I did.
The following week she had us make pictures out of macaroni.
I took mine home and Mother hung it on the wall until the cheese sauce started to go bad.
This being Catholic school, our class once had a swear-jar we kept on the window sill and one day, after we all came back from recess the teacher went over to where it lay in pieces and yelled, “Who the fuck broke the swear-jar?”
The culprit or culprits, who made off with about forty-seven dollars and fifty-five cents, were never discovered.
The pastor and other priests, we learned later, were on the look-out for anyone needing to confess their crime so as to bust their sorry asses – priest/penitent confidentiality be damned! –
But none ever came forward.
Being gifted in ways other that athletics, I found Phy-Ed to be something of a challenge.
The most exercise I got as a young Gay buck was running with scissors, stretching the truth, jumping to conclusions, pushing the envelope and pulling stunts.
Come to think of it I got a lot of exercise.
For a time I tried lifting people’s spirits but found it too exhausting.
Put my back out once.
Mine was a large Catholic family.
I’m still not sure how many were in it.
I only know that most of them had something seriously wrong with them.
The older of my two sisters was and still is a hypothetical lesbian.
When I was seven I inherited a dollhouse from her and so it had never been used, but the mortgage had been completely paid off.
I immediately remodeled it with its own panic room.
I won’t call my oldest sister a witch but she does refer to her garage as her broom closet.
My other sister had a mouth like a babbling brook, and not just because her name was Brooke!
Brooke was so flighty she could open her own airport.
A few years ago my youngest brother was diagnosed as a narcoleptic necrophiliac, which means that he really likes to have sex with dead people but keeps falling asleep during.
My oldest brother moved to Kahoots in – I wanna say Canada…? – many years ago.
At first he was all alone but then his girlfriend moved there too.
So now he’s in Kahoots with somebody.
They don’t talk about their life there.
Apparently, what happens in Kahoots, stays in Kahoots.
And because siblings can only better themselves with constructive criticism from each other, this brother was a very good debator in graded school but by high school he was a master debator.
When I heard he had become a salesman I said, “Oh, please, he couldn’t sell curling irons to Hassidic Jews.
There’s a town in Nevada called Nuendo: Before he met my Mom my Dad lived for a short time in Nuendo but didn’t care fort all the sex talk and foreplay going on.
My second oldest brother, in spite of serious digestion issues, has traveled all over the world several times.
So now he’s flatulent in several languages. There were times when his flatulence was so bad he had to leave the room – even when he was the only one in it.
One time the stench emanating from his bowels was so bad we didn’t know whether to call a doctor or an exorcist.
Still people like him and, on a good day, he’s very self-defecating.
My other brother, who is neither older nor younger, knew when he was little that he wanted to be either a policeman or fireman and he chose the ladder.
My siblings’ marital histories are a source of tragic-comedy, tragedy for them, comedy for me.
They have been married and divorced so many times that when I can’t sleep at night I count their ex-husbands and ex-wives.
One of them, my oldest brother, married a magician whose stage name was Abraca-Debra.
One day she did her disappearing act and never came back.
Before that they had a baby boy, our first nephew and my parents’ first grandkid.
When the boy turned out to be autistic, we all bought him paint and brushes and colored pencils that next Christmas.
His Grandma and Grammpa bought him an easel.
My second oldest brother, the one who really knew how to cut the cheese, paid for his way through college, making his own pizza with his first wife.
She stuck by him through thick and thin.
He dumped her when they graduated and he went to graduate school, where he met his demise – meaning his second wife.
Let’s call her Gwennifer because that was her name.
Gwennifer, I remember, had perfect teeth; they were shiny and square, like a white picket fence made of Chicklets.
That wedding was paid for by F.E.M.A. because even they knew the marriage was going to be a disaster.
(Editor’s note: Tina Few must be given credit for that one – or so says her lawyer).
My brother who’s just a couple of years older than me, married a girl I went to high school with.
We called her Lay-Down Sally.
After high school she managed a gymnasium and, by all accounts, really put the tramp in trampoline.
They didn’t last long.
Do couples ever separate due to irreconcilable similarities?
And when they are in the last throws of marriage, do they break each other’s valuables?
The research continues.