There are two pumpkin patches that are walking distance from my place. Mr. Bones has been in West Hollywood for years and now then there is a new one that has popped up on Sunset Blvd. Both are cute and catered toward giving kids a few minutes of Halloween fun.
Gf and I checked out the new one yesterday. We were the only customers at the time and the guy that worked there followed us around doing his weird Halloween shtick. Granted, it might have been cute if I was there with a child... But with a dog? Nay, not.
In the back corner there was a big wooden box and I went over to investigate. As I approached it the guy said, "Oh yea, look through the peep-hole... you'll see Chango." For emphasis he added in a spooky vampire voice as if each word were it's own sentence, "King. Of. The. Apes."
Well, I did look. And inside there was only a mirror so the only thing I saw in the box was my own reflection. It took me a second to actually realize that I was the king of the apes. I managed to fake a little amusement, "Oh, ha ha."
I'm not sure why but the guy nearly choked himself with laughter. I thought it strange. Does he have this reaction to everybody who falls victim to this prank? Once he could talk again he snorted, "I didn't know dogs got along with apes!"
I smiled nervously and remained silent as I didn't feel like wasting any of my quick wit on this freak squelching a really good gay quip about being a queen - or something.
He pointed to another box on the other side of the patch and said, "Make sure you check our baby rattlers over there - I had them flown in directly from China." Then he did that funky Halloween voice thing again, "But. Be. Ware."
When I first moved to Los Angeles in the late 80's there were billboards all over town featuring an extremely busty blond woman named Angelyne sprawled all over her pink Corvette advertising her um, talents. I'm not sure she ever actually worked in Hollywood but she was this oddity that became one of the first people to be famous for doing nothing.
Last weekend I was at happy hour and her famous pink Corvette rolled by and parked a couple of doors down. In front of a sex shop in fact or, of course. I felt the need to go out and take a photo of her landmark car so I could text it to a few friends. You know, a sort of 'look at what you're missing' type of jab.
Thinking the car was vacant I began snapping a few photos when suddenly the passenger window rolled down and I heard a faint voice purr from within, "Hey. Hey. You. Come here."
I thought she was going to yell at me but curiosity compelled me to see what she had to say instead of hightail it back to the safety of my lonely beer. Oh who am I fooling, I am drawn to freaks - I was duty bound to talk to her. I knelt at her window and smiled broadly, "Hi there Angelyne. What's going on?"
Sitting in the drivers seat was the world imfamous Angelyne. She was dressed up in her usual cheap baby-doll get-up as one might expect and was sitting there with her legs spread fiddling with her cell phone. She looked up at me and spoke in a soft come-hither kittenish voice, "For five dollars I can come out and take a picture with you."
Hmm, little did she know I had already taken three secret pictures for free. I replied, "Oh, no thanks, hun. I only have beer money today."
She frowned and then reached over the back of the passenger seat and pulled out a t-shirt with a gigantic silk screen image of her face on it and purred, "Would you like to buy a t-shirt for ten dollars?"
I replied, "No thanks. I don't think I'd ever wear that."
She seemed confused and said in a pouty voice like a nymphomaniac being cruely denied her pleasures, "Why wouldn't you wear this?"
I shrugged thinking I needed to remove myself from this roving pink flea market situation I'd been sucked into just as she picked up a magazine devoted solely to her called Hot Pink and asked, "Well, what about my magazine?"
I politely said, "No thanks. I think I need to get back to my beer now. But it was a pleasure talking to you."
"Wait," Angelyne said as she handed me a postcard. "Here, take my card in case you need to book me for a private party or anything."
As I took the card from her the window rolled back up thus punctuating the end of my encounter with Angelyne. As I headed quickly back to my much needed beer I simply thought to myself - WOW.
It was a day like today about 10 years ago when I received a phone call from my little sister letting me know the results of some tests she had taken at her doctor's office earlier in the week. You see, she had fallen about a month prior hurting her coccyx and it didn't seem to be healing.
After we exchanged our hello's she said that she had some bad news. I worked in a crowded room with about 10 other people and decided to transfer the call to the conference room for privacy. I ran over, locked the door behind me and took a deep breath before picking up, "So, how did it go?"
She replied, "Not good. I have breast cancer. It's stage 4."
I had no idea what 'stage 4' meant and I didn't ask because she had choked up and needed to get off the phone to compose herself. I immediately phoned my mother who, if memory serves, had accompanied her on her doctors visit, "No, it's not good." I could hear her holding back tears as she confirmed the worst, "She is going to die."
My mother has never been one for showing emotion so I knew this was bad. Maybe even bigger than bad.
I returned to my desk shell-shocked; my co-worker noticed and asked me what was wrong. I informed her, "My sister just called to tell me that she was just diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I don't even know what that means but by the sound of her voice I'm assuming that it's pretty bad. I just glad it's not stage 5."
My co-worker hugged me and whispered in my ear, "Honey, there is no stage 5. I'm so sorry."
I left the office feeling completely numb and found solace in wandering around the parking lot for about an hour just thinking. And crying. And hurting. And hating.
And wondering. How does a young woman of 31 get diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer?
Over the course of the next couple of weeks I would piece the puzzle together. About a year earlier my sister got her first sign - she felt a lump in her armpit. She saw a doctor who told her that it was just a clogged sweat gland or something. But it never went away and she never really dealt with it again.
I asked her, "Why didn't you get another opinion? Or a mammogram?"
She replied matter-of-factly, "I was way too young for my insurance to cover a mammogram so we didn't do one. Besides I wanted to believe him because I didn't want it to be anything else."
I insisted, "But you might've caught this at stage 3 or even stage 2."
She simply raised her eyebrows and said softly - no, remorsefully, "I know."
Her doctors advised her to 'get her affairs in order' and gave her six months to live. Well 'fuck that' she told stage 4 breast cancer as she took her own sweet time and gave us another four years. And she fought damn hard for those four years summoning a bravery I had never seen before. It was downright heroic.
And so unnecessary.
I write this as a plea to you women who are reading this: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - please ladies, go get your mammograms. Early detection saves lives.