Friday, January 16, 2009

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

The woman who inspired a thousand drag queens
(and one irritable teenage lesbian)


On this day in history three of the great American women of the last hundred years were born: Ethel Merman, Susan Sontag and yours truly. No need to send me a present, I don't want anything and hate having to feign enthusiasm when opening gifts anyway. But if you want to bake me a cake, that's fine. Just wash your hands first. And no chocolate cake, please. (There's such a thing as too much chocolate.) And no ice cream cake, because there's just no reason for that. Ever. No cheesecake, either. Cheesecake is fine if you're a character on "The Golden Girls," but I'm not on "The Golden Girls" and so it isn't for me. Until I'm in my sixties and have my own lanai, I'm staying away from cheesecake.

On second thought, let's nix the cake idea altogether. Cake is overrated, in addition to being the name of a sucky band. The only thing it really has going for it, at least in my book, is its importance to the excellent lyric "I want to be the girl with the most cake." So let's let Courtney have her cake, and we can have cookies and toast my parents for not aborting me or putting me up for adoption. That was very generous of them, and it's something I'll take into consideration when the time comes for them to be put into nursing homes.

In honor of Ethel Merman's birthday -- she'd have turned 101 today -- here's a clip of her singing "There's No Business Like Show Business," from the film of the same name. When I was a kid I used to torture my dad by watching it every time it was on AMC, and in retrospect I probably owe him an apology for that. It's a horrible movie, and 55 years later it's still impossible to imagine why anyone ever thought it was a good idea to cast Mitzi Gaynor in anything, but I was fascinated by Ethel -- and by Marilyn Monroe's "Heat Wave" performance. Two early signs that I was a giant lesbian, but it would take a while longer for me to realize that.

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