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Please God, Make Me Straight!

Posted · 13 Comments

After posting MADness last week, someone asked why in the world I wanted to be like Rachel, the girl bully who terrorized me and other kids. While I hungered for her ham sandwiches, coveted her hip wardrobe, and admired her glossy bubblegum-smelling lips, more than anything– I wanted Rachel’s balls.

Rachel wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything, and had an uncanny penchant for excelling at any physical endeavor she attempted: ice/roller skating, soccer, arm wrestling, piñata popping and kicking ass…to name a few.

While Rachel ran aggressively up and down the field at recess, beating the boys at their games, I could be found in the bathroom stall singing the Sound of Music to myself: “Oh I must stop these doubts, all these worries… I am seeking the courage I laaaack…”

I spent a lot of time alone back then since kids rarely visited my house after school. Parents (and children) were generally uncomfortable with the nudity.

Nevertheless, I once tried to entice Rachel with the following invitation: “Please come over. We have no TV, or food that tastes good, and we get up at 6am to breathe through pain together!”

She just looked at me (and my purple velvet balloon pants) with even more disgust.

However, once I did have the special horror, I mean honor of Rachel’s company at the commune.

I knew impressing Rachel was an impossible aspiration – as impossible as my dream of returning to the straight life in New Orleans.

At that time the term “straight” had nothing to do with your sexual orientation. It referred to lifestyle, belief-system and appearance.

Straight people lived in freshly painted houses, atop manicured lawns. Their pantries were full of preservatives and their curtains and bedspreads matched.

The straight mothers wore lipstick, whereas my mother dressed like a rainbow and danced in the school parking lot.

Rachel came from a very straight household. I hoped that by tidying-up, and organizing the beaded jewelry, piles of ponchos and various ethnic paraphernalia, I could make the joint look a little more like Aunt Nettie’s house on Lake Shore Drive.

In preparation for this potentially life-changing event, I screamed frantically to my mother in the other room:

“Mom, HIDE the high-priestess, leather and velvet patchwork, antler-horn, pseudo-Native American swan pipe! HURRY!”

As I cleaned for my life, Rachel, having arrived early, catching me off guard with a piercing stare, upturned lip and crinkled nose, before delivering the following:

“Adele, there was a gross naked lady who just walked right by me.”

Apparently, as Rachel was dropped off, she ran into Silver Bird’s lover, Chaya. God bless Chaya, I’ve not since known a hairier woman, nor anyone else who eats onions like apples, while standing at 4’11” and 200 pounds, despite a raw food diet.

Mortified by Rachel’s discovery, I first tried feigning disbelief, then attempted to distract her by complimenting her newest pair of Dittos. But she remained silent, eyeing me up and down as if she were going in for the kill. Desperate, I finally said in a whaddaya-gonna-do attitude: “Those next door neighbors are always coming on our property.”

When in doubt: blame the neighbors!

As for any hope of a “straight family” dinner, I had literally prayed the night before that just this once my mom would whip up some raviolis and garlic bread. But alas, the Food Fascist had no pity.

Instead, she informed Rachel and me that we’d be eating nori (sheets of seaweed commonly used to roll sushi) with avocado (in other words, sans rice and fish).

While staring at my mother in silent fury, I joined Rachel’s protests, echoing, “Ewwww!”

Suddenly, my mom turned to both of us and said, “Ya know, I am sick of this shit! Let’s get real.”

She looked directly at my formerly fearless idol (whose eyes were wide with shock and awe), pointed her finger at my horrified hero’s face and said, “Rachel, my daughta’ lives in fear of you everyday. And I gotta live with that. Y’all are havin’ nori and avo, and y’all are gonna be grateful and mellow out!”

If I could’ve gotten away with it, I would’ve told Rachel that this woman – my mother – was a delusional ‘neighbor’ who wandered onto the property.

Many years later, I no longer long to live in a beige house in the ‘burbs. And the more I place my self-worth into my own hands, the less I care what certain a-holes think of me. Rather than still being mad at my mom for standing up to a brat, I’m finally impressed that at least SOMEONE in the family had some balls.

13 Responses to "Please God, Make Me Straight!"
  1. joni allen says:

    Oh… I just laughed & laughed..& laughed!
    So vivid, so true~some of your friends might not know that this really WAS our reality!!! & not all kids are brave enuff to walk the edge of non-conformity willingly! Not until MUCH later perhaps…
    Yes italian woman do have balls~The Minoan woman of ancient Crete, ran the island with khol eyeliner, gold earrings, naked from the waist up ~held snakes in their tight fists with savage beauty, tamed wild bulls acrobating over their massive horns…snake goddesses of Knossos.. Perhaps they knew the secret to femininity is being fearless to creation's ferocity? Nowhere in the immortalized art, do we see pictures of Men in a position of authority; Their palaces were unfortified with little traces of weapons of war~The Minoans love of peace and horror of tyranny sprang from their ardent faith in the goddess nature~
    Your mother is the real deal! So are you*

  2. Lynn Zavaro says:

    Man, I can see and hear you Mom's voice so clearly. Well done! I am counting the days for the book to come out…

  3. Comedy Karma says:

    I can see your mom saying that!! Keep the stories coming!
    Will you please wear some purple balloon pants the next time we meet?

  4. Adele Uddo says:

    Thank you Joni for that colorful reminder of the feminine strength of my heritage. I'm personally one of those dagos with a mustache, but alas, no balls.

  5. Adele Uddo says:

    Lynn, it's been a long labor – here here!

    CK, I'm checking with Clarita to see if those pants still exist. There's a good chance they found a descent home at Ringling Bros.

  6. Kel says:

    Not knowing your family personally, but living in New Orleans, I can hear your mother saying those exact words to that terrible girl. And I'm not sure if you would ever see ethnic paraphernalia and piles of ponchos in a Lakeshore Drive home…even now! Alas, your gypsy-esque childhood makes my existence seem beige in comparison…had to move to New Orleans to get some color! Keep writing…keep writing…keep writing…

  7. Adele Uddo says:

    Kel, it's so wonderful to hear from a reader in N'awlins- Welcome! You're so right, New Orleans is certainly a "colorful" city, and that's just one of the reasons we natives adore it's charm and diversity. Thank you for tuning in and for your kind encouragement 🙂

  8. Mindschmootz says:

    I have this image in my head of you sitting your parental/communal unit down and announcing, "Mom, I'm straight." And the the obligatory maternal scream, "No, no, what have I done?!"

  9. Randi says:

    In the words of one of my favorites, "Time makes you bolder, even children get older…"

    Love it..
    and love your comment Mindschmootz – hilarious!

  10. cagefreetara says:

    this is HYSTERICALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

  11. Adele Uddo says:

    Oh, how I love that song Randi! It was certainly the salient background music of that time… I'm sure I'll now have that tune in my head for the rest of the evening 🙂

    Schmootz, that is hilarious! Next time I talk to my mom, I'm sure she'll be laughing too.

  12. Sundevilgrl says:

    Balls!!!! I looove it! I so understand wanting kids you thought were "cooler" to like you. I used to clean up frantically after my slobbish parentals before friends came over. I always felt that if someone's house was clean they were "rich". You make me laugh every week lady! Thank you. 🙂

  13. Kris says:

    Fantastic as always, Adele. Having grown up in a "straight" house, I still would be uncomfortable when neighborhood kids would come over for supper, but I can't imagine the discomfort in serving the "town mean girl" some nori and avo. I didn't know what either of those things were until I was well into my 30's. I do remember once when my mother assembled a surprise birthday party for me with 6 people that she dragged over from church. One guy gave me a card with $5 in it and after I opened that, I said "ok, now where is my present." Needless to say, we didn't talk alot at church after that. I didn't even realize that the $5 was my present. He probably got it out of the collection plate.

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