And He Hasn’t Even Heard Ethel Merman Yet

Generally, unless our orange-jumpsuited kids are off using pikes to stab at garbage in highway ditches, we don’t turn on the tv during the daytime hours. Really, there’s just dummm stuff on all day, and their little developing brains need to be applying themselves to more important work than watching Thomas the Tank Engine, work like learning to use the espresso machine to make Mama a mocha. So the screen remains dark until dark.

Or longer. Than until dark.

Which I know makes no sense, but I wanted to see your brain swell up and then pop as you try to parse it out.

This last week and a half, however, what with having a really big, really tragic invalid in the house, the tv has been on a lot, at all hours. And since Groom is nothing if not an over-educated white liberal, his viewing habits revolve around the PBS line-up.

What an awakening this has caused in Paco, the Wee Niblet, who has often been glued to Pappy’s side, there in the bed, in front of the tv (Girl, never much attracted to moving images, retires to The Reading Corner in her room, where she pours over Volume 221 of The Babysitters’ Club and twirls the end of her braid absentmindedly as she gasps over the trauma of Dawn moving back to California when clearly all her friends still need her there in Connecticut!!!!!).

But Niblet? Has been transported.

He nevewww knew before that the waves bouncing through the air from the television could contain such stuff. He nevewww knew that people actually used hot glue guns on real shows and not just at our kitchen table; he nevewww knew how fast onions could be chopped; he nevewww knew that some people find junk in their attics and bring it to a special place and find out that it’s worth $50,000, which is, like, enough to buy even the Millenium Falcon Lego set.

In particular, Paco has gotten excited about

America’s Test Kitchen (“Dad! Dad! That guy with the glasses and the bow tie who seems kind of cranky is on! Come on! Dad! You’re missing it! They’re taste-testing ketchups!”),

the understated charm of Bob Ross (“He was painting, and he talked vewwy quietly, and then–suddenly, out of nowhere–there was a waterfall. A waterfall! I’m not kidding. How did he do that?”),

and Antiques Road Show (I came in the other night to find Niblet in full recline across his pops’ legs as a Tiffany lamp was being examined on the screen; he only stirred to say, “Mom, I love everything on this show. First they had a Native-American pemmican pouch. Then they looked at a hutchie thing with lots of wood–and it opened and had a latch and was from before Little House on the Prairie times. And now they have this glowing thing, which is made from beautiful and shiny stained glass. Can you even believe that some people get to own a lamp like that?”)

It’s not for nothing, of course, that I sometimes refer to him as My Fine Gay Son.

What could be more fun than a Fine Gay Son, I ask you? (okay, we could make a pretty srong argument here for a third-grade girl who twirls the end of her braid while bent over a book, but she’s in the other room right now, so let’s give her some peace)

Not only does a Fine Gay Son love him some PBS, but he also needs help painting on “rainbow fingernails with lots of glitter” and getting into a little pink gymnastics leotard, something that shows off his itty Boy Package to great effect.

Even better, some days when I come home from work, he takes one look at me and points out, covetously, “Mom, that shirt looks silky. I like that shirt.”

When I ask, “Do you need to wear it for awhile?”, he responds with “Let me just get nudie first; I need to feel the silky on my chest.” Then, trying not to over-step, looking a little nervous, he asks, “And can I try on some of your boots now?”

Twenty minutes of shoes later, and he’s dancing, twirling, glorying in silkitude and bootdom and textures and heels that click.

On the sidelines, I, the doting mother, just want to squeeze him up, as I envision his future on the stage, perhaps–if I’m really lucky–as a drag queen.

Yum. Aging stage mother of a drag queen. Suddenly, everything clicks into place. Sure, to complete the image, I’ll need to take up chain-smoking. Plus, I’ll need a wig. And maybe a few polyester pantsuits. I envision myself as a cross between Carol Channing, Shelly Winters (in her later years), and Lucille Ball (post-post-post Desi).

There I’ll be, in a dark corner of the venue, inhaling deeply, taking a swig of my highball, and then exhaling in admiration at my son as he presents his spangled interpretation of “When Sunny Gets Blue.”

As I fluff my wig with manicured claws, I’ll silently thank Bob Ross, Christopher Kimball, and the antiquarians on the road show for opening up his world.

I’ll also cackle a little, before breaking into an extended coughing fit, at the fact that he not only has devoted parents in the audience,

but he also has a manager he can trust. When he bombs, and the crowd yells, “Give him the hook,”

The Manager, backstage, will stop twirling the end of her braid and set down her book

just long enough to usher him to the safety of his dressing room.





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22 responses to “And He Hasn’t Even Heard Ethel Merman Yet”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    You would make a great mom of a Fine Gay Son. But you can do it all without the Pall Malls!

    Get that boy some Patti LaBelle before PBS ruins him!


  2. Shania Avatar

    Hey! I have that same shirt! Are you saying I’m a drag queen?
    Cause that would rawk.

    And you should buy the kid some Streisand.

  3. citizen of the world Avatar
    citizen of the world

    He’s a cutie,

    When my son was that age, he loved to watch infomercials. He’d yell out his arguments at the TV.

  4. jess Avatar

    I’d fly to Vegas to see him. Didja get the earrings?

  5. flutter Avatar

    I think I love him and I think I would love him even more, dressed as Cher

  6. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    Paco Niblet will also need Liza Minelli and Cher albums.

    A gay friend once told me that when he was four, he borrowed his mother’s crinolines to wear as bridal veils, and that Barbie was his idol.

    So if you want to cinch things, so to speak, look for crinolines in a vintage store. They’d look fabulous, dahling, with the pink tutu.

  7. monica Avatar

    my son went to a dress up event once when he was around 10, as a lady; red lips, mum’s bra with socks to fill etc. As the event went by, dancing and playing, one of the boobs vanished, and he – in his own words – went from nice lady to the hooker with one boob… :o)
    I love Niblets enthusiasm ! And your writing!

  8. Kylie w Warszawie Avatar
    Kylie w Warszawie

    This is adorable!

    My daughter’s school has boy girl switch day. I think they are training the boys to become drag queens.

    Which is actually unfair. Why do you have to be gay if you just like the feel of silk on your chest? And skirts are quite comfortable. Many cultures wear them!

    Pantyhose are killer though. And I dress my boys in tights.

  9. Jazz Avatar

    One day he’s going to be really mad at this post.

    But until then, what a hoot!

  10. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    That is hilarious! I love his style!

  11. steve Avatar

    Paco has some intense likeability going on. I envy his ability to accessorize. He's ok>

  12. That Chick Over There Avatar
    That Chick Over There

    He is SO fabulous!

  13. chelle Avatar

    hehehe that is awesome. Oh the things to look forward to!

  14. lime Avatar

    send the fine gay son out here because i have to watch antiques roadshow alone…if i can even wrangle the remote to click away from the disney channel.

    i need me the fine gay son of a psychic sis to oooh and aaahhh over reproductions of napoleon and josephine;s china and cackle when the pretentious matriarch is crestfallen to lean it was made in japan.

  15. Shieldmaiden96 Avatar

    One of my favorite things to do is curl up on the couch under an afghan and fall asleep listening to Bob Ross paint happy little trees, then wake up at the end when the picture has magically appeared. Such a gentle soul he was.
    Forget Ethel Merman; he needs him some Dreamgirls!

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    Aahh, I have a fine gay son too. He likes button down shirts, cowboy boots and occasionally totes a purse around filled with keys and key chains. The other is the exact opposite: is rarely seen in something other then sweats with holes in his knees and big t-shirts. I love boys at this age. Before we know it we might have to battle getting their pants up around their waists.

  17. Casdok Avatar

    MOther of a drag queen does sound fun 🙂

  18. the cubicle's backporch Avatar
    the cubicle’s backporch

    After going to a drag queen show a couple years ago, I was amazed how well some of those guys can do make-up. For real, pass on the tips if you gives you any.

  19. choochoo Avatar

    Ah, classy. lol.

  20. Chantal Avatar

    I have me one of them. My almost 4 year old announces daily that he wants to grow up to be a girl. He wears my shoes and my clothing. He likes it when we match (the colours of our clothing). He is like the daughter I never had.

  21. Wendy Avatar

    And I love all those shows. How’d I miss my drag queen calling??

  22. pistols at dawn Avatar
    pistols at dawn

    All Fine Gays Sons should have such mothers, cheering them on and leading them to just the right Babs movies. Otherwise, they might get all caught up in The Mirror Has Two Faces, and no self-respecting Gay will ever truly love them.

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