I looked across the train this morning and saw this chick who looked so familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure why. “Is she perhaps in a show,” I pondered. “Did I sleep with her, maybe?” Clearly, I had not slept with her – for obvious reasons…. (I’m impotent.) It was driving me nuts, though! Then I realized; I totally went to High School with her. She was totally the girl that no one liked and everyone made fun of. Her name’s Erica Kirschbaum, but to protect her identity and so as not to hurt or offend her if she reads this, we’ll refer to her here as “Erika” Kirschbaum (with a “k”).
What the hell’s she doin’ in my gayborhood?? It seems everyone and their gyno is living in Astoria since I started the trend, like, 70 years ago. But I really never thought I’d find this girl. She was a peasant of the Drama Club when my friends and I all held court; one of us was the President, one was VP… I don’t even think I had a title, but my face was on all the money. Nobody asked questions. We were completely the “mean girls” of Drama Club (how embarrassing for us) and we were awful to Erika. We used to call her “retard”, “lesbo”... all the classic hits of the 90’s. I mean, imagine poor Erika - not being “cool enough” for the Drama Club! That’s like joining rehab only to be called a "drunk" or "fun".
I always felt terrible about the way we treated Erica (sorry... “Erika”) and I always vowed that I would apologize if I ran into her again. It’s amazing the way a little time completely matures people. I mean, there we both stood this morning, almost 10 years after high school; adults… I now had stylish gay facial scruff and was like 25 pounds thinner, and she finally brushed her fucking hideous hair! We’d both come so far. (I didn’t end up saying anything to her, though. She still looked kinda dykey and retarded, so I just pointed and giggled a little.)
Speaking of high school, one of my very first queer obsessions back then, after a trip to NYC to see Sunset Boulevard, was Betty Buckley. She did a concert in Florida shortly after that, and my friends and I went back to see her after to have her sign our CD’s and posters and pantyhose. The first thing I said to her was “I’m such a big fan”, or something stupid like that. She replied, “Oh look… we have the same haircut.” I didn’t really know what the hell she was talking about. I mean, we both had short hair at the time, but I didn’t see much similarity beyond that. I guess it was her cute attempt to put me at ease a little. I was so nervous and didn’t know where to go from there, so I think I said something like, “Oh, yeah we do… Hey, I have that same blouse, too.” It was awkward.
This weekend I was at Birdland to catch Betty Bucks in concert! First of all, let’s discuss that I love Birdland. I really do. It’s so cozy and warm and “New York Jazz” to me. Especially now that we’re getting into the Autumn/Winter months… I could just camp out there every night, wrapped in a luxurious leopard print pashmina, sipping a gorge Martini and listening to great music. Really, I could. Aaaanyway, Betty began by forewarning all the musical theatre queens in the audience hoping to hear a little “With One Look” or “Memory” that she would not be pulling out any showtunes for the evening. Luckily, there was a basket of bread on our table, so I picked up an onion roll and chucked it right at her head. (Clearly, I was one of those queens.) I was quickly mollified, of course. Betty and her fabulous jazz quartet gave us a beautifully thoughtful and intimate show, tailor-made for the room, as she explained. She infused jazz, blues and even a little rock, throwing in a few personal anecdotes about some of her musical obsessions as a kid. She was great. Brilliant, as usual. (For the show queens, she’ll be back in town at Feinstein’s in February, and promises to fulfill all our homosexual needs.)
We went back to see her after the show. She didn’t say a thing about my hair.
L-R: Tituss, Betty Buckley, Moi
(Betty totally asked for "photo approval" of this picture. I love that.)