Monday, May 31, 2010

Just another good "throw up" story

A few weeks ago on a trip to the courthouse (don't ask) my three year old daughter threw up the Starbucks cookie and milk she had just devoured all over herself, her car seat, and the back seat of our car. It was gross, like seriously gross. Luckily it was my husband who got stuck cleaning it up. I kept trying to figure out why it was she threw it all up (aside from her scarfing it down in the span on 5 minutes, this was nothing new to her). Then it hit me. Oh please no. Anything but this. You see, many, many (many) years ago, when I was an adorable young child, every freakin' time we went anywhere that took longer than 20 minutes, I too would throw up all over the place , and now it seems as if history is repeating it's self with my daughter. Someone out there is getting a good laugh at this, and it is most certainly not me.


For as long as I can remember my dad has ALWAYS been a clean freak.

Hey! MY dad was a clean freak… I am not exaggerating when I say he took three showers a day. He ALWAYS smelled of Aqua Vela…..always dressed to the “Nines”.. I think he wore a suit and tie to throw out the trash. Bottom line… I get it honestly!

Seriously, growing up we could literally eat off the kitchen floors, heck, we could eat off the garage floor. Not that we did , because that would be weird, but we could have if needed to. As we grew up, had our own place, when we knew he was coming for a visit, the entire house gets scrubbed down with bleach, Lysol, vacuuming, professional carpet cleaning, you get the point.

My wonderful daughter neglects to inform you that I am also allergic to cats, dogs and dust. If I get around them, I look like I went nine rounds with Muhammad Ali and he beat the living crap out of me. Eyes closed shut, swollen…. You get the picture!

Of course he would never criticize (openly), but we knew how he likes everything. Clean, extra clean, again, remember the kitchen floor and garage. As if that was not bad enough, he carried this weirdness ocd compulsion to his car, AKA "DAD'S CAR" (dun dun dun duuuun) Now there are two things that are pretty funny about this.

1. He was MORE obsessed with having a clean car than a clean house (and I already explained how he was with the house)

2. His clean car ocd compulsion did NOT carry over to mom's car.

We could not eat, drink, or even sleep in "DAD'S CAR" (for fear that us kids would either spill or drool on the precious seats). None of us were allowed in "DAD'S CAR" till he inspected the bottom of our shoes, and god forbid there was anything on our shoes, we would have to go back inside and change....this went for mom as well. Mom's car somehow got a free pass. It was her car that we would take to the beach, park, pretty much anything that involved the possibility of dirt, in any way shape or form,that is where Mom's car came in. We rode around alot in her car because of this craziness.

Geez… again my daughter neglects to mention that the jobs I had required me to practically LIVE in my car! It had to be clean, right? Cars were a big thing to me: the cleanest ,“baddest” car on the block was something to be proud of. I never had the “baddest” car… but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have the cleanest!! Oh, and did I mention that my dad always had a spotless car. Always shined and buffed… the interior and the exterior. How could one “cruise” listening to the great songs of the 60’s with a dirty car… I mean… come on!

However, there was an occasion or two where we "had" to take "DAD'S CAR", and if memory serves me correctly, us kids had to sign some type of waiver (in blood) stating that if anything should happen to "DAD'S CAR", he would take away one of our toys.

There was never a waiver… only threats.

"Daddy, can I have a piece of gum?"




Again, a bit of an exaggeration…. Gum was allowed… but no falling asleep with the chance that the gum would somehow exit the mouth onto a seat!

One cold December morning found us on a family outing to the local Farmers Market. This particular market was not your normal stop and shop market. It was an all day adventure. You had all the fruit and vegetable stands, along with different little shops. There was on shop in particular that I loved. It had different themed Christmas trees, Victorian, Country, candy,food,silver and blue, pink and silver, red and green (my favorite). There was also a candy shop. The candy shop was the highlight of this trip for me. As usual, everyone had a great time, our very last stop at the Farmers Market was always the candy shop where The Parents allowed us to pick out our own lollipop. This was not your average lollipop, these were the ones that were as big as your head. Just another one of many Ortolano traditions. However,we were NEVER allowed to eat the lollipops in "DAD'S CAR". Oh no no no no no. We could either save it till we got home, or eat it while still at the Farmers Market.......just as long as we had plenty of napkins and wipes to clean our sticky hands with.

Sticky, large lollipops in the car??? That is just not right! Especially with two sisters that took pleasure in putting those sticky, wet lollipops into each other’s hair!! Lollipops in the car?? Forgedabouit!!! Oh, and another point; please ask Jennifer about her amazing ability to fall asleep while eating!!!

On this particular trip, I had made the decision to eat my lollipop while still at the Farmers Market, but I kinda had to devour it because we were getting ready to leave, and under no circumstance was an opened lollipop allowed in "DAD'S CAR". Everything was going fine, we had a great day, we each had our lollipop (although my sister opted to eat hers at home). The Parents picked up some more Christmas decorations, and we were now on our way back home.

And then something went terribly wrong.

"My tummy hurts"

Words of terror!!! Those words always meat that Mount St Helen's was about to erupt! There
was not time to react! When the infamous words escaped Jens lips: “My tummy Hurts”, you were as good as dead.

As I briefly touched on in the first paragraph, car sickness was nothing new to me. I have always had a very sensitive stomach, especially driving long distances, but our trip to the Farmers Market was not at all "that" long. I was not prepared for this. I tried to think about anything and everything, whatever it took to get me to stop thinking about how my tummy hurts. It did not work.

I saw panic in The Parents eyes. We were driving 60 miles an hour on the highway, I knew there was no time to pull over, I knew it was only a matter of seconds before it was going to hit me. I was going to throw up.

"I don't feel so good"

There goes that panic look again between The Parents. I heard them whispering to each other, and despite how nosey I was, I did not even feel like trying to figure out what they were saying. My sister was sitting as far away from me as she could, any further away she would be outside on the road. Her hand was on her mouth and ears, she was no fool,she knew what was about to take place.

More moving around up there in the front seat, and then, then, what? What is this, I had mom's empty purse on my lap. Huh?

What to do??!!! 60 miles an hour! No shoulder on the road…. No place to stop!!!

Me: “Rhonda!! Give her your purse!!”

Rhonda: “are you crazy?”

Me: “No !!! Dump your purse! Quick!!! Let her throw up in your purse!!! HURRY!!!!!”

"If you feel like you are going to throw up use the purse, do not throw up in DAD'S CAR"

Well,I guess that is all I needed. I needed the "okay" to let it all out, and boy did my mother's purse.

While I was throwing my insides up, Dad had somehow manages to pull over to the side of the road, once that he saw I was okay, and finished doing my thang, he made sure "DAD'S CAR" was not ruined. All was good, kind of.

Saved!!! The purse saved the day and the car!!! It was just large enough!! Thanks Rhonda for buying a nice sized purse, one never knows right? Nothing on the car!!! It’s all in the purse! YEA!!!!

The Parents left the purse on the side of the road for some poor schmuck to find. I would love to be a fly on the wall when said schmuck found that purse.

Well, what the hell was I supposed to do with it? I had a very nice purse full of vomit. I was not going to ride home with it, right? Why would one ride around with a purse filled with vomit?? ( The aroma was not all that pleasant) Leaving it on the side of the rode made perfect sense. Besides, the sadistic side of me imagined the right dope coming along and saying; Hey man, someone lost a purse!! I’m gonna grab that and see what’s in there. Ha ha ha ha ha ….(evil, eh?)
So we are back on the road, headed home. Some old school AC/DC was playing on the radio, my sister and I were singing along "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap" and then it happened. Without any warning, maybe 5 minutes away from home, I threw up again, and again, and again, and, this time,there was no purse. I had no choice but to let it all go on the floorboard of "DAD'S CAR".

Whenever I hear AC/DC sing Dirty Deeds… I think of my two lovely girls… and I think of Jennifer exploding all over MY CAR!!!!!

Once again, The Parents made sure I was okay, all the while Dad hit about 75 miles per hour trying to make it home before anymore damage was done to "DAD'S CAR". Yeah, right. Little did he know there was plenty of damage, right there on the floor board of the back seat. I better not be grounded for this.

Got to get home!! Fast .. I have to clean this car out!! My God, the smell… I’m gonna die!! My seats!!! Oh lord how am I gonna clean this out!!! There is so much back there!! How can one little girl throw-up SO MUCH!!!! And in MY CAR!!!!!

Me: Open the windows!!!

Rhonda: What? It’s 20 degrees out there!

Me: I don’t care !! Open the windows!!!

We get home a whopping 3 minutes later, my sister jumps out of the car before it even comes to a full stop, I try to maneuver my way through all the vomit that was on the floor, the back seat, and now me. Mom rushed me inside, being extra careful of the carpet and walls (which she was just as obsessed with, but more on that later) and Dad, well Dad went straight for the garden hose, in 3o degree weather. You can see where this is going can't you?

The hose!! I have to get the hose! I hope the damned thing is not frozen!!!

Ah!! not frozen! Good .. now just turn it on and hose out the entire car!

Oh NO!!! the water is freezing solid when it hits the seats!! I HAVE FROZEN VOMIT ALL OVER MY CAR!!! AGAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

I jumped into the bath, put some nice clean fresh smelling clothes on, following mom's (very strict) directions I took the dirty clothes to the washer and then made my way outside to where The Parents were hosing down the car with frozen water. I think this was one of very few times I had actually heard Dad cuss. Not at me mind you, I mean I was just a poor Innocent sick little girl in all this. If anything I probably earned some extra points because my stomach is so sensitive, but still, he just had to get "DAD'S CAR" all clean and fresh smelling again. Yeah, I mean have been young, but even I knew this was no small feat.

Six weeks…… it took six weeks to finally get that car back in shape. I had to scrape frozen vomit off my seats with a knife!!!! And the aroma!!!! I poured more air fresheners’ into that car than one would find at a funeral home!!

To this day… it I hear the words, “my tummy hurts”, I have a panic attack.

and now it looks like my youngest will have the same fate as I did.

As I said before,someone upstairs is getting a good laugh out of this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Music is what feelings sound like

Music make everything better don't ya think?

Growing up, The Parents introduced us to music at an early age.

Specifically Sunday mornings, as we were all getting ready for church, us kids would hear the stereo BLASTING from The Parents bedroom (however in hindsight, this could have just been a tool to block us kids out, Sunday mornings were always very hectic in the Ortolano household). I remember hearing lots of Simon and Garfunkel (The Boxer) Jethro Tull's "Bungle in the Jungle" The Rolling Stones (I believe dad had this on repeat) Bob Dylan's (Knocking on Heavens Door) The Grateful Dead, and last but certainly not least, the man in black himself, Johnny Cash.

It wasn’t just Sundays mornings, it was whenever there was an opportunity to listen to music. I don’t believe there is a genre of music that I don’t enjoy. From Metal to Country; Classical to Hip Hop, I love music. Depending on the circumstance, it adds to the mood of a moment. On a beautiful, warm star-lit night, Andrea Bocelli or Sara Brightman can make the sky that much more dazzling. Feeling a little down? Listen to Johnny Cash as he spins his musical tales of life. Wanna Dance? How about Lady Gaga or Usher? For more romantic dancing, see Gen Miller and Count Basie. On the open road with no schedule to keep? Let Metallica, The Crue or or any of the other metal bands drive with you. Reflective? There’s none better than Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. How about a late night diner, starting with cocktails… invite Sinatra into your dining room. Ah, I could go on and on.

(and he will, if I do not cut him off now)
I do think it is important for me to point out, that all these groups were WAY before my time (clearly I am not "that" old),the point is,there was always music around, even on Sunday mornings.
Christmas was never Christmas without Frank Sinatra's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Just like clock work , and the end of the song, The Parents would always wish Frank a "Merry Christmas" just as he wished to us, a tradition that started many years ago in a tiny New York city apartment by my grandparents.

Growing up, the night we decorated the Christmas tree was when Dad would break out Sinatra’s Christmas album. The Christmas season was now officially underway. I will never forget those cold New York evenings when Dad, my brother and I would go pick out the perfect tree. (in hind sight, it always was more of a Charlie Brown tree, but, whatever.) When the decorations were on and we had completed our task, Dad would lower the lights and put on Sinatra. Mom, Dad, my brother and I would simply sit on the couch and gaze at the tree. The lights of the of the World Trade Center barely made it though the window of our housing project apartment, but my lord, how beautiful..When Sinatra finished “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” he called out “Merry Christmas” to his listeners. Mom and Dad would respond with lifted wine glasses in salute to The Voice… “Merry Christmas Frank.” The birth of a tradition.

My first cassette (yes, I said cassette, whatever, I still say I am not old) was the great Billy Idol. I had spent about two weeks diligently saving my allowance, all in anticipation for the weekend trip to the mall. I could not wait to buy his "tape" that had the all time classic "Rebel Yell"on it. However, when I saw that "White Wedding" was on his self titled "tape", I seriously could not decide which one I wanted. I hate to compare it to Sophie's Choice, but it really was kind of the same thing (at least in the mind of a 12 yr old girl). Dad, being the music lover that he is, offered to buy me one,if I paid for the other.


and so it was, I left the record store being the happiest girl ever.

How could I not let her get both songs? First of all…. I loved them as much as she did. Rebel Yell was one of those “Driving down the Highway” songs!! Secondly, I remember the excitement of my first record (Yes, I said record) It was The Greatest Hits of the Four Seasons.( Dating myself, am I?) It was closely followed by the Stones first album… the one with “Paint it Black” on it. It was the beginning of a lifelong journey with the Rolling Stones. I listened to records, then moved on to the short lived life of the 8 track ( yep, I did say 8 track). This lasted until Jen’s cassettes came into vogue. (Vogue, now there is a great song by Madonna.) Do you remember the first record/ 8 tract/ CD that you owned? For me, it was a coming of age thing; now I could have any music I wanted whenever I wanted it. Lord only knows how many songs I have on my IPod today!!

A few years down the road, my BFF at the time had scored some tickets to see Warrant in concert. Any child of the 80's just HAS to know who Warrant is. I was scared, never been to a concert before, and I was always the shy, prudish type, but The Parents were all like "Hell yeah you need to go, can we go too?" (Okay, maybe not those exact words) they told me it would be a good experience and I would either love it or hate it.

Actually, those were our exact words! The live concert! It does not get better than that!I have been blessed with seeing some of the greats: Sinatra, Dylan, Stones, Tull, ZZ Top, Mellencamp,Tony Bennett, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, George Straight, The Dead, Rod Stewart,Metallica and others. I loved, and still love the experience. I’m so bummed that I could not get tickets to Lady Gaga here in Houston because she sold out so fast.

I freakin' LOVED it. I had vowed right then and there in the middle of Janie Lane belting out the lyrics to "Heaven" that I would follow these guys around till the end......and so began the beginning of my teenage years, my right of passage. I have seen them all, Montley Crue, Skid Row, Aerosmith, just about every one of the late 80's ear;y 90's hairbands. The was a brief period in my life where my only goal was to be a Skid Row groupie, of course at that time I had no idea that a groupie actually had sex w/ the guys, I just wanted to follow them around and maybe tattoo their name to my body....which I late did....with a safety pin.

(Well, I did know what a groupie was….. so that life goal of Jens was not one I was all that crazy about, though I would have gladly been a groupie for Gracie Slick of the Jefferson Airplane)

For some unknown reason, Dad was never a fan of Skid Row. We had many late night debates in the spacious kitchen on Wormington Dr, and most of these debates centered around music, specifically what good music "really" was. One time in particular,I was listening to the new Montley Crue song "Time for Change" (which also featured the guys from Skid Row). I played that song over and over and over trying to convince Dad that this song was the best song ever.

Dad~That is not real music, in twenty years no one will know who those guys were.

Me~Yeah, well in twenty years the Rolling Stones will be dead, so there!

Okay, so I had not quite mastered my debating skills yet.

(Yea, but I thought she had a point there.)

Well let me tell you, it has been twenty plus years, and both Montley Crue and The Stones are alive and kicking some serious boo-tay....and after all these years, I have come to see that in fact the Rolling Stones do have some pretty good songs (Play With Fire) and even more impressive than that, I am sure you will find a few Montley Crue and Skid Row songs on Dad's I-Pod.

Can't get much better than that.

Rock on!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Have you ever ratted out your sister? I have!

Friday night my 16yr old son decided to go MIA.

Unfortunately this was not the first time.

However, this particular Friday night was the worst time ever for my 16yr old to go MIA.

My car had decided to not start and my husband was stuck at work.

Great. Never ask yourself "What else can go wrong?" because nine times out of ten,you will quickly find out what else can (and will) go wrong.

Took some time,but we (and by "we" I mean "I") came up with a solution to the car and husband. Only thing left was to figure out where my 16yr old had vanished off to.

He does not have a car (or license for that matter, a punishment from the last time he went MIA) he does not have a cell phone (had it, but it was taken away as another punishment for MIA) but he knows the rules (so I thought). He must check in and let me know where he is and who is with.


Now,because I believe God has a terrific sense of humour, I was brought back in time to our house on Wormington Dr. in a suburb of Chesapeake, VA. When we were kids and my sister decided to go MIA.

There is about a 2 1/2 age difference between my sister and I, and yes, I am the older one. I was also the shy,quiet,keep to myself, one. Where my sister was more like the "Haaaayyy you cannot have a party unless I am there" kind of one. We were around 12 and 14 years old, at that age where we cannot wait to grow up, but so not ready to grow up. My sister had one of her (slutty) girlfriends over spending the night.

I apparently was so desperate (or bored) for friends, I had went down to her room about 11 at night to see what they were up to. Now,my sisters room was right across from The Parents room, where as my room was clear over on the other side of the house. I knocked on my sisters door, and right away hear all this rambling around and "shhhh" noises. She slowly opened the door, just barely enough for me to see her

"What Jen"

"I am bored, what are you doing?"


"Nothing, go away"

Yeah right it was nothing, She had on full makeup, the room reeked of perfume,she had on her little tight jeans, she was up to something and I just HAD to know what it was. (Have I mentioned before how nosy I am?)

"What are you up to, I am going to tell The Parents"?"

She angrily opened the door and allowed me in. Her friend was sitting on the bed packing a bag, and the window was open.

Apparently my sister and her friend (also known as the neighbourhood sluts) were going to sneak out and meet the neighbourhood boys.

What the hell were they thinking?!?! The Parents have always taught us not to get in the car with strangers, to stay away from boys, not to have premarital sex (okay, remember, I was still young and naive back then). What were they thinking?

"Look Jen, we are just sneaking out for a little bit, we will be back in time for church in the morning, you cannot tell the parents, promise?"

So I was torn, here it is my sister is FINALLY allowing me into her secrets, is confiding in me, asking me to cover for her.....yet I knew what she was doing was wrong. What was I suppose to do?

"Okay, I promise I wont say anything but you better be back in the morning"

and just like that they were out the window, into the car of the neighbourhood boys.

I made the long walk back from her room to my mine, all the while my head kept playing games with me. "What if she does not come home, what if something happens to her, what if they get into an accident, what if, what if, what if" AGH!!!! I could not take it anymore.

I turned back around and now made the long walk to The Parents bedroom. Knocking ever so quietly on their door, because if they were asleep, then there was really nothing I could do about it, right?

"Hey Jen, what's up?"

This is where my memory ends, kind of. I do not remember which parent opened the door, all I remember is confessing that "Sis and her slutty friend just snuck out and I do not know where they are going but I knew they were going and I told her I would not say anything but now I feel guilty" and all I heard was


So, it was most likely my mother who opened the door because anytime she got mad with us, she always used our full names, and then she got my dad.

Crap. I should have kept my big mouth shut.


So, I thought the day had gone well. A nice Saturday in Virginia, activities with the kids, dinner out, everyone settled in for the evening… yes, the day had gone well. Until about midnight; then things got a bit “dicey”.

Now, we all pulled dumb stunts when we were teens or even pre teens, right? Things that we know were wrong or that we would get us in trouble. I believe the excitement of “pushing the envelope” to see how far we could get was a big part of the attraction of our forays into “the dark side”. You are with me, correct? Most, if not all, of us have been there.

It’s with that in mind that I remind you that very little of what our kids tried to pull or actually did pull off surprised me. Of course, some caused a bit more angst than others, but, overall... no real surprises.

What Carolyn attempted to pull off that fine Saturday evening did not surprise me in what she did… it surprised me in her lack of originality and proper planning. I mean, if you are going to pull one…pull it!

Let me set the stage:

We had all retired to our rooms (retired?? I sound like a narrator from an Agatha Christie novel!). We had all gone off to our rooms. It was about 10 pm and it had been a long day. Carolyn had a friend over to spend the night, which was perfectly fine with us. We enjoyed when the kids brought their friends to our house. It was a great way of keeping a handle on what was going on “first hand”.

By midnight, Rhonda and I were pretty well sound asleep. Then came the quiet knock on the door. Let me tell you, nothing is as bad as the sound of a phone ringing in the middle of the night, but a knock comes in a pretty good second. We knew it was not just one of the kids calling on us to tell us how much we were loved.

Rhonda jumped out of bed first and slowly opened the door..she answered in her usual cheery voice, even for that hour of the night:

“Hey, Jen…. What’s up…?”

Ok, I thought to myself… it’s Jennifer… probably nothing too bad… perhaps she is just not feeling well .

Then I heard a lot of not so low whispering and most of it was coming from Jen. Oh,Oh… she is going into a long story… this can’t be good.

Then, Rhonda’s not so low voice: “Jennifer!!!”

Oh Damn, it’s not good. I jumped out of bed and was at the door a second after ruining my left leg for life by slamming into the stupid dresser.

Me, trying to sound authoritative and in control (what a joke): “ok what’s going on????Is everyone ok??”

Rhonda is glaring at me as if I had done something wrong. My mind quickly races to ensure there is nothing I am guilty, at least recently, of.

“Seems your Daughter decided to sneak out the window tonight!!”

My initial thought… they always mine when they do something stupid , but when they are on their game…. Oh, well… not the time to bring this up.

“Sneaked out I say!” A bit louder than I had wanted it to come out. Jennifer looks as if she has just sold out the entire country. I bet Benedict Arnold had that same look on his face.

Rhonda than pushed Carolyn’s door open, none to gently, I may add… And there in front of us is the evidence. CSI would have died laughing. Window is still open. (Nice touch not to close it). Two pillows form the sleeping body under the covers. My lord, “the old pillows under the blankets” trick. I thought Carolyn had more imagination than this.

Rhonda is fuming, not so much because of the dumb stunt, but because of worry and fear that our 12 year old was out for the evening with … well, we didn’t know who. Poor Jennifer looked ready to fall on her sword, so we calm her down and tell her she did the right thing, though we would have liked to know BEFORE the great escape. Nevertheless, “ratting out” your sister is never easy, so we didn’t go hard on her at all.

As for Carolyn, there was not much to do now except make her sorry she had done such a knuckle head thing. I wrote her a small note with the words’

“Welcome Home! I hope your evening was worth it”

We placed this note under the covers without disturbing a thing. I think she was grounded for a year.

As we all walked out of Carolyn’s room to try and salvage as much sleep as we could…. I could not help but notice a small smile on Jens face as she read the note.


~Don Ortolano

Me again...for the record I would like to add that I aka The Favorite Child, have never pulled a stunt like that.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Coming out of the Closet

The other day my dear old husband told me he wanted me to buy some (and I quote) "hot lingerie". Okay, this is good, right? I mean at least he is still attracted to me, or is he so grossed out by me he wants me to cover up? Whatever, he is a guy, he wants the lingerie. Only problem is, I do not quite know what is considered "hot lingerie", and of course The Husband is no help.

"Well what do you mean by hot lingerie?"
"I do not know, just pick something out"

Big help he is right? So what's a girl to do?

Well, call my very very gay brother of course! Surely he will know what hot lingerie is, I mean the gay guys know all.

There is about a 7 year age difference between my brother and I, and yes, I am the older one (although may I point out I do not look like it). Growing up with my brother, my sister and I always knew that he was different. Not a bad different, just different. Sure my brother had posters of scantily clad woman hanging on his bedroom wall, Carmen Electra, Britney Spears, and even Madonna, but still there was something different about him. He was never one to play with the boy toys, cars, trucks, swords, playboys. He would have preferred to hang with me upstairs in my room listening to Bryan Adams. He even had a few girlfriends over the years, but still, always in the back of me and my sisters mind we knew that our brother was gay.
Sis and I were fine with it, I mean it is our brother, why wouldn't we be okay with it. We were just waiting for him to figure out he was gay.

And then one day in June of 2005 I get a phone call from my brother. Allow me to set up the scene. I had just had a baby, my hormones were out of control, and I pretty much hated everyone back then (which is really not too different from today). I was at my kitchen table when my brother called.
"Hey Jen, are you busy?"
right away I knew something was wrong, aside from the nervousness in his voice, he never calls. Never.
"No, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, I just have to tell you something"
"Has there been an accident?"
"No, I have to tell you something"
"What is it, you are scaring me"
(Looooooong pause from my brother)
"I came out"
"I came out"
"Of what?"
"Jen, pay attention, I came out"
"You came out of what, the shower?'
(Hysterical laughing from my brother)
"No Jen, I came out"
"I don't get it, I 'm slow"
"Jen, don't make me say it"
"Say what, I am confused"
(Big sigh from my brother)
"I am gay"
(Looooong pause from me)
"Oh,is that it?"
"Well we knew that, we were just waiting for you to know it"
"How did you know?"
"Hello, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and listening to Bryan Adams in my room, I may be slow but not that slow"

and there it was. My brother finally came out. But, the question of the hour was
"Have you told The Parents?"

Let me explain, we grew up in the church. For as long as I can remember The Parents have always taught Sunday school class. My sister and I were baptized in the church, every Sunday and Wednesday without fail we were at church,The Parents prayed before ever meal,we always knew what the real meaning of Christmas was about, church was always a good thing, however I knew how the church felt about gays, but this was my brother, so now all the rules change in my mind.

The Parents are the most supportive parents ever. I knew they would not kick my brother out of the family, I knew they would not look the other way,I knew that they would love him more than ever, but still, I could not help but wonder how they were going to take this news.


It's a pretty warm June evening in Connecticut. I'm away from our home in Oklahoma on business and I've just gotten back to my hotel room after a nice dinner and a few drinks. The meetings had gone well, as far as meetings go, so I was in pretty good spirits as I took my shower and got ready to watch the Yankees on TV with a nice glass of Scotch to keep me company.
The phone rings..."Damn" who is that now!" my first reaction was that it was my boss or someone from work wanting to extend the business day.
Oh-oh..... It's my wife, Rhonda. This is not good. It's too early for our nightly call and I always call her... she never calls me...kind of our routine.
"Babe, what's going on... are you OK?"
"Yea.. ( sob).... I just got back from dinner with Anthony.... he asked me to have dinner with him" (sob)..
Hmmmmm, I think to myself.... what in the world did you have for dinner???
"OK" I say... so that was nice, right?, did you have a nice dinner? Whats' wrong??
long pause.... two or three rapid sobs.......
"Anthony told me he is Gay"
Damn... it couldn't have been just some bad food?
(Sigh)...... I have to let this sink in for a moment..... Anthony, my son, just told Rhonda he is gay...I don't even know if I was totally surprised, but as can be expected..... it hit with quite a wallop.
"wow", I say...... that's pretty heavy...... how did he handle telling you?"
Rhonda went on to tell me that he was clearly frightened in telling her, but felt he had to. Apparently he was even more nervous about telling me. I wondered why why he was so frightened in telling us? Rhonda told me that Anthony had said that his family is the most important thing in the world to him and he was afraid that we would disown him... Now it's my turn to sob. Could he really think this? I know both Rhonda and I hated the thought that this weight must have been on his shoulders for quite awhile now.
I questioned how long has he known about this and I was told that he had been conflicted about his feeling since he was a little boy. Tough stuff, especially when you pride yourselves as the parents that can be talked to about "anything".
What does one feel at a moment like this? Naturally, as a parent, you look for ways to blame yourself, as if blame needed to be cast at all. In addition, as folks who were pretty involved in Church, the conflicts arose in our minds there as well.
Secondly, if you love your children, the very next thing you feel is protective... you want to be sure that they are happy and that everything will be ok. Those of you who are parents should be aware that we may not always understand, or even totally agree with the paths our kids take.All three of ours have taken various and diverse paths. Paths that I probably would not chosen for them.... but then again... it not my course to chart, it's theirs.Some of these roads have been more difficult than others, yet, no matter the course, they are still our children and they are still loved as individuals,not because of the path they choose. You simply love... perhaps even to a greater degree.
Rhonda then told me that Anthony wanted to know if she was going to tell me.
What? did he expect to keep it a secret from me for the rest of his life? That would be a trick, though as dense as I am sometimes, he may have been able to pull it off.
"Of course ,I'm going to tell him she responded, he'll know something is up as soon as he hears my voice."
He seemed so worried about my reaction, which was a bit surprising, in that I was always the more liberal parent, but, I guess a boy would naturally worry about the reaction of his dad in something like this.
Anyway, I told Rhonda that I was going to call him that very night, as I didn't want him to worry. It was very important that he knew all is well. He's still our son and nothing would ever change that.
So, we calmed each other down and I took a long, long swallow of Scotch and dialed his number. I think the Yankees were losing... figures.
He answered in that very familiar, flat tone of his... "Hey".....
"Hey, I responded..., I hear you and Mom had dinner tonight......."
Long pause....... "yea"..... with a rising inflection....
"Well, now I fully understand why you never knew if the Yankees were a Baseball team or a Football team."
Laughter from both us us.... good, real laughter. Laughter that only people who love each other can share... laughter that breaks the tension.... laughter that allows you to go on and know, without a doubt.... all is well.

Don Ortolano