How to keep my edge? When I am angry, I can make great jokes because they transfer into sarcastic whit…but what happens if I become less angry? Can I keep my edge? Could it be that all the self help books I read, the yoga constantly telling me to forgive, to love myself, and living in A Town with all these self-loving/self righteous people is making me less funny? I’m scared I’m losing my edge.
I was at a work conference a couple years back and I was sitting next to a colleague I had gotten to know who did stand up comedy on the side. We both enjoyed making “funny” witty comments to each other under our breath during conference sessions. Somehow we got to funny childhoods and when I told him my parents were divorced ex-hippies and my father was a recovering alcoholic, he said “damn… your so lucky you have real material.” And he is right, for the most part, my dad was hysterical. He didn’t beat me or anything. He may have gotten drunk and eaten a live spider in front of me once but I knew he loved me. And even though my mom used to serve me tofu enchiladas with a side of maztah ball soup, it was hardly a childhood worth reporting to DSS.
Since my parents sent me (on scholarship) to private Jewish day school, I had no choice but to compare my life to the lives of the upper class Jewish kids in my class whose fathers were cardiologists and mothers were stay at home academic moms. Jews don’t have soccer moms, we have “academic moms” who help us “FOCUS ON YOUR STUDIES!”
So I grew up pissed off. Why couldn’t I stay with Dad at rehab (it had a swimming pool and spa) and why did I have to live in the projects (actually a pretty nice one bedroom apartment) with my mom. Why did we have to eat “brown food” (what I called all the food at the natural food co-op my parents insisted on shopping at)? And why the hell would I care what my teachers thought of me…after all, once you see a grown up eat a spider, all authority for other grownups is pretty much lost.
When I got to college the real anger set in. I found out in women’s studies class that my dad was a misogynist and my hippy mom was a feminist heroine. I thought back to every blond busty woman who had come through my father’s home when I was kid. Holly, and Molly, and Prancer and Slut Bag. Donna and Sally, and the list goes on. Some made me hate my mom. Well not hate, more become disgusted with. My mom had small boobs, didn’t wear dresses, never owned make up and drove a pickup truck. She could never live up to the Leave-It-to-the-Jewish-Beaver moms with their synched waist floral print dresses and well lined red lips. Nor could my mom live up to my fathers breast inflated, hair tossing, 15 years younger sexually, curious and ‘oh look he has a sweet little girl’ bimbos.
Then I found out my father was a racist homophobe. Then I found out we are all racist homophobes (you know because of the hetero-normative patriarchy). Then I became a lesbian (let’s call my girlfriend Sally) and got a masters in Lesbian. Well they called it a masters of Cultural Gender Studies, but it was masters in Lesbian. As my Dad became more annoyed with my sexual choices (BEING GAY ISN”T CHOICE DAD!) (But Jane, you have always had crushes on boys ?) I thought this proved he loved the young blond bimbags better than little old olive skin brown curly haired me. What a great way not to compete with them and date girls myself! Lesbianhood turned out to be mostly hand holding and 5 lb’s gained weight from a serious ice cream habit. I was also teased a lot for my mascara.
Then on my Birthright trip I met a really hot Israeli soldier (I think it’s actually on the Birthright itinerary) and finally had good man sex. Then I told my Dad:
Me: Dad I met an Israeli soldier, Sally and I are threw.
Dad: So should I stop going to those ‘parents of gays” support meetings?
Me: What? You were going to support meetings? That’s so sweet. Yeah stop going, I like penis.
And then the anger started to go away bit by bit. As I started to shop at natural food co-ops, wear less make up, and toss my hair for men… I realized how cool my parents were. As all my friends soccer moms got left for younger versions by their retired cardiologist husbands, and ‘the only home we ever knew’ was sold by friends parents, I became less jealous of their ‘normal’ childhoods. I may have been pissed we lived in 18 places in 18 years but my idea of my family wasn’t ever shattered when I was 18, 25, or 30, like my friends. My idea of my family was never really solid… only now do I see it as MY Family.
And now I live in A Town and the yoga teachers keep telling me to forgive and love and nurture and empower and IT REALLY PISSES ME OFF! Wait… maybe I am not losing my edge after all?