December 25, 2010


I've had a lot of errands to run right before the holidays and several times I noticed couples arguing bitterly with lots of packages in their hands. Of course I didn't eavesdrop--in NYC that might get you killed--but I couldn't help but wonder if holiday stress hadn't been upped a notch this year due to the recession. It's kinda hard to focus on the perfect gift for everybody when you're losing your home!

My parents were never big gift-givers. I don't mean "gift-givers" as in the code word for gay internet hook-ups who have HIV and want to spread it to so-called "bug-chasers", because the internet didn't exist when I was a child. Who knows? Maybe my parents are organizing an Xmas bare-backing orgy right now on Craigs List in Chattanooga as I type this.

But when I was a kid, my parents never focused that much on giving elaborate gifts. They might capitulate to that one thing that I thought I just had to have and throw in some candy. Remember those books made out of every flavor of Lifesavers? I got those every year. But when it came time for show and tell with the other neighborhood brats, the gifts that my sister and I got always came up short. Other kids' parents seem to lavish money on them. Not just the latest must-have brand name and "it" toys, but some actually got jewelry and even cars!

Ooh, how I bitched and whined about this to my folks. I really hated them at these moments. "But the other kids got this! And they got that!" My parents would always smile and say "But you're not those other kids." That line really made my blood boil. I knew I wasn't those other kids because they received fancy gifts which made me feel inferior. My folks weren't poor, but gifts just weren't a priority to them for some infuriating reason.

It took me decades to realize it, but I get it now. After seeing those couples arguing with gifts in their hands, I realized what a priceless gift my parents had given me. It's a real freedom when you don't need something. And I don't need material things to make me feel complete. Oh sure, I fork out cash for my wigs and costumes and stuff that I use for work. But it's a recession. And if I can't afford a designer label or a deluxe new coiffure this year, I'm totally fine with that. I'm still me. I've noticed that gays and people of color often seem obsessed with designer labels. I'm not sure why, but I imagine that it's because both groups have been looked down on by society at large, so attaining some status symbol which everyone recognizes as expensive puts an extra spring in our step to compensate for times we've been made to feel less than.

But if your boyfriend or girlfriend thinks less of you because they didn't find an enormous ring under the Christmas tree, you don't have a very loving relationship with him/her to begin with. And if your kid melts down because you just couldn't swing that pricey new model of the X-box or whatever other toy is the must have of the year, maybe you can teach them what I'm very glad my mom and dad taught me: that you don't need expensive gifts to make you happy. You just need booze, cocaine and giant donkey dicks crammed into every one of your orifice. Seriously though, I wouldn't trade my momma's cornbread sage stuffing recipe and the smiles all around the table as she served it for anything they sell at Macy's. Well, except maybe one of their girdles cuz I've been oinking that recipe since Thanksgiving.

And speaking of girdles, this subject reminds me of one of my favorite songs by my favorite entertainer, Miss Patti Labelle. Bring on Patti and you bring on the tears! Of course, If You Don't Know Me By Now had already been a hit for Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes featured Tedd Pendergrass, who also hail from Philly. I couldn't find her 8 minute version from the album Patti on youtube, so I posted this one instead. Her bizarre wig is proof of crack's popularity during the 80s since her hairdresser simply had to be on it. During the album version, Patti lays down an incredible rap which made this song a choice number for drag queens to lip-synch to in Atlanta, GA when I was coming up. See, Patti's man still doesn't trust her after 10 long years. Somehow, she turns this scenario into a message of self-empowerment which I hope will come in handy to anyone who might be feeling less than because their stocking didn't get stuffed too full this year.

Again, these words are NOT in the youtube clip below but the emotion AND WIG are.
Patti's genius rap from the album:

"You break your back, you break your neck and you break your face trying to get these people to know you in life. And somehow they just don't wanna try, too. So you say to yourself "Is it somethin' I said? Is it somethin' I done? Is it the way I look? Is it the way my clothes come unfastened? And if that turns you off, baby you ain't worth me anyway.

So you fasten your clothes, you check your speech, your drag and everything else, your face and you find out you're still in trouble. And then you say to yourself, 'Self, is it worth it?' Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh NO!"