Regular readers know that I went in drag for Halloween when I was 8, with my mom styling me in a way that resembled our eccentric neighbor Karen. On my family's recent trip to Detroit we were driving past our old house when my stepfather blurted out, "You know why Kenny is the way he is?" You could hear a pin drop in the rental van waiting for where this potential barn-burner was going, when Gary continued: "Because Karen Muethel told him about the birds and the bees." When everyone was done exhaling, it all came flooding back to me, this insane detail that had completely slipped my all-too-cluttered memory back when I was writing my memoir. Why this woman -- who was my Son of Sam gossip partner and delightfully hung beads to separate her dining room and kitchen, a la Rhoda Morganstern -- thought it was her place to tell a boy in the neighborhood about the facts of life is anyone's guess.
But then again, this is the woman who thought her daughter Laura was a "genius" because she had figured out how to break a Corelle plate -- they were advertising as being "unbreakable," but I don't think throwing it on the cement patio was what the designers had in mind -- and had to be reprimanded by my mother for TAPING the pacifier in her baby son's mouth. I tracked down her middle child, a second daughter she did nothing to disguise her contempt for as she wanted a girl and a boy, on Facebook not too long ago and found out Karen had died in her late 40s of a massive heart attack. It turned out that this daughter, who I always favored over the prodigal child, had a bizarre connection to the Oakland County Child Killer case, having married a man whose father was once a suspect. (He also wrote a memoir!) When I thought she and I had become close enough to really open up, she handled my unflattering recollections of her mom's behavior toward her (and her Scotch-taped little brother) graciously, explaining that her mother improved with age. It was at that moment I happened upon this old photo of me as her mom while visiting my parents in Arizona, so I got the nerve to send it to her. I've never heard from her since. Happy Halloween, everyone!
P.S. Apparently I wasn't the only gay blogger who did drag a a boy!