Saturday, March 5, 2011


Little gay me, dreaming of putting something sweet in my mouth.
They say that particular smells are the most effective way to conjure up a long-lost memory.  For instance, the smell of spilled Olympia beer and a Kent cigarette smoldering on the 100% polyester armrest of a plaid La-Z-Boy recliner will always remind me of my tipsy, hacking father.
"It's The Water"  Oh, and the alcohol helps, too!
The decadently feminine Diane Von Furstenberg perfume, Tatiana, mingling with that slap-you-in-the-face breath that can only be achieved thanks to filterless Pall Malls and Folgers Instant Coffee With Flavor Crystals, is like a big aromatic hug from my beautiful mother.  (Please keep in mind that this was back when Tatiana was a classy fragrance -- long before Diane sold the company to some giant conglomerate and purse-sized bottles of the once-precious perfume made their way onto the shelves of The 99 Cent Only Store.  My mom may have had bad breath, but she also had taste, pride and dignity -- and wouldn't be caught dead dabbing anything sold at a discount store on her wrists and/or behind her ears!)
Just add a mod caftan and boxed wine...
The unbeatable combination of Loves Baby Soft and Jiffy-Pop popcorn?  My sister, Vicki.  Dirty underwear and Taco Bell?  My brother, Lance, of course.  These specific smells are each like time machines, shuttling me back to a simpler time, somewhere around the mid-1970's.  A time when Brooke Shields and Jodie Foster could play pre-pubescent child prostitutes and no one batted a Maybelline turquoise-shadowed eye.
Surprisingly, "Pretty Baby" is far less offensive than "Suddenly Susan!"
A time when we thought the cancer one got from using artificial sweeteners was far more acceptable than the few extra pounds that might accumulate around one's midsection as a result of using real sugar.  A time when, speaking of diets and nutrition, an appetite suppressant could be called AYDS (yep, it's pronounced AIDS!) without a drop of dark irony.

A time when we relied on a ring to tell us our mood, we could have a rock as a pet and we often wondered where the beef was.  A time when people like Charo, The Unknown Comic and Lyle Waggoner could be stars.  Google them.  Yes, smells can take us back -- but for me, the ultimate passport to the past is the most exciting of our five sense, Taste.
If your jokes were this bad, you wouldn't show your face either!
Which brings me to a wonderful gift I received last night from my pal, Muffy Bolding.  I like friends who listen and I had recently shared with her a story about my next door neighbor when I was growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Mrs. Gardner was a sweet-faced, gray-haired little old lady who resembled Mrs. Butterworth and smelled like rose water.  As a little gay kid (sadly, with no living grandparents), I used to love visiting her spotless home that featured things like doilies and needlepoint and paper flowers and toilet paper cozies and plastic-covered furniture and "I Love You This Much" figurines -- no doubt bought at the corner drug store at the very last minute by one of her thoughtless, real grandchildren.
I LOVE YOU, GRANDMA -- just not enough to plan ahead!
But my very favorite thing in that cottage-like house was the leaded crystal candy dish, always full of individually-wrapped Brach's Neopolitan coconut candy!  I have such fond memories of those chewy squares -- specifically of slowly and methodically eating each stripe: white, then pink, then brown.  I also used to carefully nibble a tiny section from two Funyons (it's more difficult than it sounds!) and wear them as hoop earrings a la Pam Grier.  Can you say, "future drag queen with an eating disorder?"  But I digress.  Yes, those Brach's candy -- available in bulk and oh-so-easy to steal, er, uh, I mean "sample" at the grocery store -- were beyond delicious.  And they were something my mom would never buy.  See, we ate sandwiches made with Roman Meal bread and spicy mustard, not sweet mushy Wonder Bread with Miracle Whip like Mrs. Gardner.  My mom made rigatoni with homemade bolognese, not SpaghettiO's with sliced franks like Mrs. Gardner.

When I asked my mom to buy me SpaghettiO's she snarled, "You are NOT my son!"
My dad grilled big thick juicy t-bones, medium rare, on our backyard Weber, not pressed and formed frozen Steak-Umms cooked to death in an avocado green Sunbeam electric skillet like Mrs. Gardner.  And as a kid, I loved all that crappy food.  Who wants fresh-squeezed orange juice made from fruit right off the tree in our very own backyard when one can have Tang?  And why eat bacon and eggs when a Carnation instant breakfast or a Pillsbury Space Food Stick is far more convenient and, well, futuristic?
Space junk?
So last might, when I unwrapped one of those coconut beauties and popped it into my middle-aged mouth, I suddenly became a kid again.  Thanks, Muffy!


  1. I once ate a whole box of my mom's Ayds. Love this blog post, Jackie. Has made me think of similar things, too.

  2. Thank God for Miss Jackie Beat !! Love you Jackie :D

  3. My first introduction to shoplifting was pretending to put the 3 cents in the little metal box that accompanied the Brachs bulk display at our Winn Dixie. I loved the white nougats with colored gel. Did anyone ever pay the 3 cents for a "Sample"? Thanks for the memories Jackie!

  4. Honestly brought a tear to my eye. Just one in the one eye... the other one is glass. Seriously though, I love this post!

  5. recently someone was talking up florence welch, and i said, 'she's no shirley manson'. then i thought of you.

  6. I just had a bowl of Fruit Loops after 25+ years and I was instantly back in 2nd grade hating school. I know I could never handle a flashback from Honeycomb cereal.

  7. Would you be caught dead at the white party? If so...starring Charo!!! 2008: GAGa, 2009 Ke$ha...2010 Charo! I wish they gave out trading cards instead of vomit filled chill rooms.

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  10. How about those crappy pieces of waxy gum in those topps collector card packs? Loved Jolly Ranchers hard candies in Cherry and Apple, and the smell of the pineapple segment in those pretty but lethal Astro Pops(I'd suck 'em down to a sharp point and attack my brother with them!) I also loved those neopolitan coconut candies too; those and like Darling mentioned, the White Nougats that almost resembled chunky pieces of stained glass with those colorful bits...I always tried to eat out the colored gummy parts and found a big melted nougat mess between my little fingers, in the quest for saccarine segregation.

    I actually remembered getting my grandmother one of those rubbery plaster statutes for mother day back in the early eighties. It was that one with the granny sitting on a chair, forgot what the base of it's pedestal said but it was somthing to the same effect or the virtues of grandmas love.

    I remember the slutty aunts on my dads side, ordering the vilest and cheapest perfumes in avon catalogs in the 70's. They'd order animal shapes for themselves and stinky colognes for us young lttle bastards in the shapes of cars and guns...Tacky!

    How can anyone forget the smells of public school cafeteria a glue factory or a hog processing plant; gross and spookey! It's no wonder I was so thin until I was in my late 20's.

    I remember the smell of sauve strawberry shampoo my mother washed my hair in; she was totally setting me up to be picked on for the rest of my early elementary school life. Despite those vile odors, life was still very sweet in my heart and mind. I do remember the smell of the first boy I had a crush on. He was a cute little white boy, transplanted from Canada, named Chris. He smelled like an Orange Dreamsicle which made it hard for me to stay away from him on the playground.

    Anway, you were such a cute little fag; you even have the Village Peoples Leather Man vest on...and the way you've gingerly crossed your legs in that pic(a thousand gay slurs!)...yes you were! Thanks for the memories!

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