David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Friends, Games, Gays and Lesbians

Friends

• Although Ramones lead singer Joey Ramone was a good person, he once got into a fight with his friend the journalist Joan Tarshis that led to both of them throwing things and her calling the police. The police arrived and looked at Joey’s apartment, which was in its usual untidy state. Fifty albums were lying on the floor, and the police noticed a novelty souvenir towel from the Bates Motel (of Psycho fame) that looked as if blood was on it. The police said, “Wow! You must have had a very big fight. Where does it hurt?” Later, Joan wanted to make up with Joey, so she sent him a hammer and a note that said, “If I ever get out of line again, hit me with this.” Joey immediately called her to joke, “I’m keeping that hammer in a holster for when I’m with you.”

• Elise Reiman was always very friendly with choreographer George Balanchine, and when he was married to her friend Maria Tallchief, she saw a lot of him. Later, he and Maria had divorced, and Elise became a teacher at the School of American Ballet. Elise saw much less of him, but at least once she was able to let him know how much he meant to her. They had been to a dinner at the home of a friend of hers, and afterward when he was taking her home in a taxi, she kissed him and said, “It’s so wonderful to see you, because I miss you.” She says, “I think it pleased him. I just wanted to let him know that I still adore him.”

• When Anne McCaffrey, author of the Pern novels about telepathic dragons, moved to Ireland, her young daughter was worried about making friends. Young Gigi needn’t have worried. She found out from a new neighbor where another girl her age lived, and then she visited that house, saying that she was there to make Anne Kelly her new friend. Very quickly, Gigi had a new friend.

• A Scottish woman named Angela was HIV-positive, and eventually she decided to tell a female friend about it. When they were out together, Angela turned to her friend and asked, “What do you feel about people with HIV?” Her friend gave a comforting answer, so Angela said, “Well, I’m HIV.” Her friend laughed, and then she replied, “So am I!”

Games

• In the days when children’s book author Gary Paulsen owned a Great Dane named Caesar, they liked to play a game called Get the Kitty. Caesar understood the word “Kitty,” and when things were boring, Mr. Paulsen would yell, “Get the Kitty! Get the Kitty!” Caesar would then tear around the house looking for the nonexistent kitten. Because Caesar, in his eagerness to get the kitty, upset tables and jumped over furniture, this was a game that they played only when Mrs. Paulsen was not at home.

• When ice skater Peggy Fleming became pregnant with her second child, she and her husband decided to make telling their son into a game. They hid clues all over the house, and their son went on a treasure hunt to find the clues. When the clues were all put together, they spelled out, “YOUR BABY BROTHER ARRIVES IN SEPTEMBER.” They also made a videotape of the treasure hunt and of their son’s face lighting up, followed by his eyes filling with tears.

Gays and Lesbians

• Bill Serpe of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, came out when he was 24 years old, although he had realized that he was gay at age 19. For five years, he led a double life, talking at his day job as a shoe salesman about dating women although at night he was really dating men. One day, his boss asked him what he had done the evening before, and Mr. Serpe replied that he had been on a date. That’s when he realized that he couldn’t keep lying, that he had to be open about his sexuality. When his boss asked what her name was, Mr. Serpe replied, “His name was John.” His father was in denial about Mr. Serpe’s sexuality, and although they discussed it once, they didn’t discuss it further for a very long time. When Mr. Serpe was 29 years old, at Thanksgiving he visited his family, then left to see his partner. His father asked, “Why don’t you pick her up and bring her back here?” Mr. Serpe replied, “It’s not a her.” Hearing this, his stepmother asked, “Then why don’t you bring him back here?” That’s when Mr. Serpe came out to the rest of his family. He says, “It was difficult at first, but we worked through it. I’ve been a very lucky gay man.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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