Oh Mary

The fastest selling book in Simon and Schuster’s almost 100 year history debuted this week and it was written by — Mary L. Trump, Ph.D.

It is entitled Too Much And Never Enough, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man and in a very brisk 225 pages it gives us the unvarnished details of what it’s like to grow up in the extremely dysfunctional and just plain mean Trump family.

We ready

It also sheds light on why she believes our current president is a mentally ill sociopath with an inability to care about anyone but himself.  The book contains an enormous amount of stories about the endless string of Donald lies, Donald incompetence, Donald bullying and, well, pretty much every other type of anti-social behavior any Donald could display short of murder, from the time he was very young up through the present day.

Ms. Trump, 55, is the niece of our current POTUS, Donald J. Trump, and a clinical psychologist who spent quite a lot of time around Donald, his siblings and his parents (Note: Her grandparents) growing up.  So she knows whereof she speaks.

She is also a lesbian.

Gasp!

Well, to be fair, in the late nineties she was married to a woman for an extended period of time, they had a child together, later divorced and she now raises and lives with their teenage daughter.

So at the very least she is a member of the LGBTQ community.

This in no way is an outing of Ms. Trump, who rightly neither hides her sexuality nor dwells on it in her best seller.

But in watching and reading the myriad of coverage about her life and the book roll out, it’s impossible not to notice that the one person in the extended Trump inner family clan strong enough to make a full and healthy break away from all that immorality and, umm, financial dysfunction – and live to come clean about it to the world – is gay.

Perhaps made even more impactful while being interviewed by Rachel

We gay people certainly have as many faults as anyone but the one thing we do know how to do is open a closet door and let the truth come out.

Our very lives are an embodiment of the old adage the truth will set you free because for the vast majority of us it has.

For those of us of a certain age (Note: Ms. Trump is younger than me but still of my generation), and still, for some, of any age, this has not always been easy.  But once we realize it’s not the end of the world but the beginning of a brighter new one, we’re far less likely to be the keeper of anyone’s dirty little secrets, especially when they cross us.

Run Tippy, Run

In short, the Trumps were f-ckng with the wrong person when Mary finally found out after many, many decades, that Donald and his siblings had financially f-cked her and her brother over to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars.

(Note: Buy the book and google her in the NY Times and you can read endless articles about how the family undervalued the size of her grandfather’s estate and threatened to withhold health insurance from her brother’s very sick baby until she and her brother capitulated for a pittance of their inheritance).

Still, this does not appear to be the primary motivator for why Ms. Trump wrote her book, which sold ALMOST 1,000,000 copies in its FIRST DAY.  Rather, it was Donald playing out the same type of lies he had perpetrated upon her and other family members to enrich himself from his father’s estate on the entire country that tipped her hand.

Just a litttttttle bit late, Mary

Watching him lie and deny the plan to put immigrant children in cages or expound on the virtues of KKK members instead of defending the Jews and people of color they wanted to exterminate, was an all too familiar playbook.

In the Trump family, you did what you were told because to not do so would cost you your standing in the inner circle.  To maintain the power, the protection and the position – even if all those brought you were scraps – you kept your mouth shut (nee lied) or risked being thrown out and DESTROYED.

That is what Donald did through the years to all his rivals and perceived enemies (nee EVERYONE), especially Mary’s alcoholic father, Freddy, who died broken and penniless at the hands of the family and Donald at the age of 42.

Again, all of this is recounted in very readable stories throughout the book in ways that are surprisingly even-handed and, even a bit sympathetic, towards Donald.  It’s what gives Too Much and Never Enough its power, and its undeniable ring of truth.

Plus it’s mega ratings

Still, while most readers will no doubt linger on all things Donald, and how his equally sociopathic father Fred, Sr. preyed on each member of their clan and then the outside world to their maximum personal benefits, it is the moment that Mary Trump finally owns her power to us as an LGBTQ woman that most stood out to me.

All through her life, Ms. Trump watched as her father Freddy was shamed into believing he was a failure by the only family that she or he knew, one that they were led to believe they were beholden to (Note: Because they indeed, were; see the above DESTROYED) for personal survival.  Yet many years after Freddy died, Mary still remained close to her grandfather, Fred, Sr., and her grandmother, who she called Gam.

It is with this history she recalls the last two weeks of her grandfather’s life in June, 1999, and how some of the family (Note: Though not Donald) gathered around the dying Fred, Sr.’s hospital bed.

More tea cometh

Her grandmother, Gam, sat in a chair, an aunt held his hand, while another aunt stood to the side with Mary, bemoaning the fact that she and her husband (Fred Sr.’s youngest son / Donald’s youngest brother) would have to postpone their London trip with Prince Charles because of Fred’s likely passing.

He invited us to one of his polo matches.  I can’t believe we had to cancel, her aunt noted in an exasperated and too loud voice that others would likely hear yet, in true Trump fashion, not react to one way or the other.  At which time Mary reveals the following to us:

I could have topped that story.  In a week I was supposed to be getting married on a beach in Maui.  Nobody in the family knew; they’d always been spectacularly uninterested in my personal life (when necessary, I asked a guy friend to accompany me to any family occasion that required a plus one) and never asked about my boyfriends or relationships.

A couple of years earlier, Gam and I had been talking about Princess Diana’s funeral, and when she had said with some vehemence, ‘It’s a disgrace they’re letting that little faggot Elton John sing at the service,’ I’d realized it was better that she didn’t know I was living with and engaged to a woman.

Seeing how serious my grandfather’s condition was, I had a terrible feeling that when I got home, I’d have to break the news to my fiancée that, after months of planning and overcoming logistical nightmares, our mostly secret wedding would have to be postponed.

As it turned out the wedding was postponed and Fred, Sr. died several weeks later.

Sums it up

The entire Trump family attended the funeral, including Mary, yet Mary was the only one to escort Gam, her grandmother, home and sit with her for several hours more in the house she had shared with her husband for more than 30 years so she wouldn’t have to be alone.

Any number of LGBTQ people from dysfunctional families will read the above passage and recognize a familiar scene. The single young thirty something with no discernible life taking care of the elderly relative the straight, married siblings don’t quite want to be bothered with or can’t be because they have a family.

But equally familiar to some will be the scene some 30 pages later when her Gam also turns on Mary once Mary and her brother realize they are not receiving their own father’s share of his inheritance from Fred, Sr.

Will we be shocked by any of this?

Apparently it was Donald’s edict that unless Mary and her brother disavowed their claims to their share and let Donald and the remaining siblings have the many more millions, her brother’s permanently disabled baby, would lose his Trump family health insurance, which he was guaranteed to in perpetuity and, in fact, needed in order to be able to survive with round the clock care.

Now not quite sure of what to do, Mary gets a call from Gam who not only tersely tell her off amid Mary’s protestation, but to pound her point home, admonishes her with these choice words: Do you know what your father was worth when he died?  A whole lot of nothing.

 Not knowing what to say, Mary pauses.  At which point there is a click. Gam had hung up on her. In fact, Gam never spoke with her again.

It took awhile but after all this time Mary Trump is finally talking back to the entire Trump clan, most especially about their leader, and ours, Uncle Donald.  Like many in her community, it’s taken almost a full lifetime for her to embrace her voice and the entire truth about who she is and where she came from full throttle.

Now that she has it would behoove us, ALL OF US, to listen.

Sly and the Family Stone – “Family Affair” 

Dream Teams

Are you losing your mind yet?

I don’t know about you but I most certainly am.

More than once a day I think of myself in a celebrity box on The Hollywood Squares and I’m not even famous.  Nor has The Hollywood Squares really been a thing since around the time I graduated college.

But ZOOM – here we magically all are, perhaps multiple times a week, in a virtual new reboot of a TV game show where we play to the camera, try to seem intelligent and attempt to crack jokes when all else fails.

I don’t even want to see what 50th day looks like #itsnotpretty

Except, of course, we don’t have writers.  Certainly not judging by any of the countless Zoom chats I’ve been on.  Instead, midway through 2020 we are all solo acts, responsible for creating our own material and literally living and dying by each choice we make both inside and outside the grid.

It’s enough to make you long for the glory days when everything you said in your square was rehearsed and scripted for maximum effect.  Sure, you didn’t always get to be your absolute true self but at least you didn’t have to think about who and/or what that was 24 hours a day. Note: I’m including sleep time because, well, haven’t YOUR dreams been more than vivid lately?

This seems normal now

For those of you who don’t know, The Hollywood Squares was an addictive daytime and primetime game show in the sixties and seventies (and rebooted shortly in the late 90s) where celebrities each occupied a box in a glamorous life-size tic-tac-toe board and answered true or false questions on a myriad of topics of the day.  It was then up to a contestant to agree or disagree with the celeb, thus earning them an X or O and eventually prize money.

If you can’t quite picture it in your mind give it a few months and I’m sure some enterprising souls will come up with a Zoom version app and make a mint charging you for your own intellectual property.

This is too much to process

But back to the real Squares.  By far my personal fave was center celeb, Broadway, TV and movie actor Paul Lynde, who occupied that prime spot for almost a decade and a half.  Mr. Lynde was the funniest and outwardly gayest performer in the entertainment world during those years, quite a feat since he was never out at all, at least in how we traditionally define it.

If you want a sense of how it was back then with Paul and those of us who loved him, it went something  like this:

Moderator Question:  Paul, you’re the world’s most popular fruit.  What are you?

Paul’s Answer:  Humble.

.. with his signature giggle  #icanhearthispicture

Of course, I can’t recreate the sniggering, snide delivery (Note: Well, certainly not these days, if we can’t be face to face) but you get the picture.

This particular Paul question came courtesy of a short, snappy profile of him in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly.  It’s officially called the PRIDE issue and in it the magazine devotes itself to pioneering LGBTQ entertainers and storytellers – past, present and future – and the many ways they have influenced culture, and in turn, our world.

Pour the champagne!

Lovely as it is to be noticed, by far the standout item in this week’s magazine is the bizarre cover, well, drawing, of noteworthy  LGBTQ celebs of the last century in what could best be described as the gayest nighttime cocktail party you will never experience.

It’s a virtual queer dream team of a party with the likes of Queen’s Freddie Mercury beckoning Janelle Monae over to his side of the room; Marlene Dietrich grabbing Cynthia Nixon by the waist and pretty much ogling her; and Ellen DeGeneres with her arm so tightly wrapped below Rock Hudson’s elbow that he can only barely make eyes at the hot – well, I’m not quite sure who he’s making eyes at but rest assured from the expression on his face there must be a myriad of hotties he’s focused in on at some unseen corner.

And to top it all off there’s good ole RuPaul in a red gown and black satin gloves, flounced across a baby grand piano, making goo-goo eyes at – yes, you guessed it – Elton John.

If you didn’t know better you’d think the media was dominated by gay or gay sympathizing liberals who had nothing better to do than to gang up on straight America and subvert their traditions by showing them just how much fun you can have by not insulting the minority of your choice and, in fact, being inclusive.

NPH knows

Of course, the bigger message of the photo is, much like a fantasy sports league, it gets you to thinking of the dream teams of your choice in all kinds of areas and just how they might rescue you, or us, from the doldrums of Zoom chats and quarantine.

For instance, can you imagine if we could bring back Marie Curie and Jonas Salk to a medical cocktail party of choice with, say, Anthony Fauci, recently demoted vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright  and well, let’s throw in Albert Einstein for the hell of it.  What might they all come up with, aside from witty chatter and medical cures, or even talk about?  If not a cure or a shot, at the very least I’d bet they’d have plenty to say.

You know he’d be good at parties

And how about a political confab with Abe Lincoln, Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Golda Meir mixing it up with Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and, okay I’ll say it, Donald J. Trump?  Trump says Lincoln was his favorite Republican so he’d make it, right?  Or would we have to invite Hitler Andrew Jackson?

Personally, I’d much prefer an afternoon run at a dog park I’d rent exclusively for Lassie, Lad-A-Dog and Nana because I’d get to bring my Jack Russell Rosie, my sister’s Havanese mutt Louie and several other friends’ pooches if they could make it down here in time.  Not to mention, well, every other pooch I and any of my friends and family once owned and loved as part of our family in our pasts.

Sorry not sorry

Which is sort of the point of a dream team, isn’t it?  Or even a tic-tac-toe board of celebrities on The Hollywood Squares.  To bring out the best of us by coming up with exactly the right answers to all the top problems and/or questions of the day.  And to make us feel a bit better in the process.

There was a time when a game show could do it with just a team of good writers and a handful of well-known performers.  The U.S government generally accomplished  this with a small Cabinet and a handful of clever appointees through  every single Administration in the last century while also managing to avoid the most severe consequences of several severe global pandemics.

Don’t mind me as I weep

These days, um, we have Zoom chats, the Gang that Wont Shoot Straight Under Any Circumstances in the White House and Operation Warp Speed to do the deed.

I hate to say it but not even a cocktail party with every LGBTQ star in the history of the world, can take my mind off of that.

Sorry, Entertainment Weekly.

Aretha Franklin – “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”