Friday, December 16, 2011

Are You Allowed to Experiment with Your Christmas Dinner?

Day #1 Monday -

If you have an adult kid, and that kid has had a best friend for most of his/hers life, chances are you have got acquainted with the best friends family.

My son has a best friend, and over the years Sue McGleno and I have enjoyed the minor social pleasantries that go along with that.

Last year, my sons best friend stopped by the bakery and the Father matter of factually told me how the youngest brother of the best friend (14 to `15 ish) had explained to the parents that he was gay.

The announcement didn't come as a surprise to most of us, the young man had always displayed effeminate qualities, and often times skirted around issues that dealt with gender diversity.

With that said, I remember how impressed I was that this father took the time to make the rounds and help the people that they cared about become segued into this situation.

To me, it simply doesn't seem like something like this would need a "Press Conference" but I guess the world can be a tough place for anybody who doesn't fit within societies norm.

So now it's Monday evening, I collect the mail at the Klecko estate, and I noticed that this best friends family had kept with tradition and sent us a Christmas post card that had pictures of the 3 sons on the front.

However, this year the son who had recently announced being gay, made a new statement this year. Instead of signing the card with his masculine name that all of us knew him by......

This year his named was switched to a woman's name, and the photo didn't look like a young man anymore. He looked like a she.

I sat down on the stoop in front of my house and carefully examined the photo, and then it struck me how blessed this kid was to have a family that not only accepted him/her as they were, but these parents went out of their way to print up mini billboards and send them to everybody they knew.

I can't tell you what raced through my mind, but I was really very happy that there was one less person that would be dreading the upcoming holiday season.

This kid is certainly in a low percentage minority group, but when he/she sits down for a Christmas meal, there isn't going to be a character ambush.

So the day goes on......

Tick-Tock Tick-Tock.

Klecko comes home from the gym,steps out of the shower, and between hopping into a pair of boxers and flexing in the mirror....he hears something coming from the living room.

The sound was show tunish, and after switching rooms to investigate, Sue McGleno revealed....

It's White Christmas, it just started, and then she sat down on the couch and began settling in.

Sue McGleno never has been much of a TV girl, but I could tell from her focus that she had a thing for this flick.

She continued doling out information.......

"AMC is playing this movie back to back, and not just tonight, but 3 consecutive nights."

At that moment, I had no idea how influenced I would become by the viewings of this movie over the next 72 hours.

I was familiar with the film, but I hadn't viewed it "wire to wire" in over 30 years.

But Sue McGleno looked invested so I decided to join in by default.

Typically Klecko stays away from musicals, and one of the quickest ways of knowing if a film is going to be filled with dancing and show tunes is to look at the credits and see if Danny Kaye was going to be in it.....

In this case, the answer was yes....sigh, it was going to be a long night.

But I always have liked Bing, and I noticed his love interest was Rosemary Clooney.

When I saw her, I had to chuckle because in this movie she was adorable, unlike the older-ravaged Rosemary Clooney I remember growing up with during those paper towel commercials (Extra Value Is What You Get When You Buy Coronet).

And this Rosemary Clooney character had a younger sister in the movie. This woman was "Smoking-Smoking Hot" and she was played by Vera Ellen.

If you haven't seen the movie, I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that her waist was smaller than my bicep-tricep.

"Hey Sue McGleno....why can't you look like that?"

This prompted a slug to the shoulder which was delivered with a little more velocity than the one's you get when your wife knows you are joking LOL.

Sue McGleno announced that no matter how many times she has seen this film, it amazed her how perfect Vera Ellen's legs were.......

"Look at those legs....O-M-G, a sculptor couldn't improve them. They are just perfect!"

As my punch wound throbbed, Klecko now sat back and started watching more of the movie.

As one scene passed after another, let's just say I noticed that Danny Kaye wasn't falling all over Vera Ellen 1/2 as much as I would. When he grabbed her to dance, or kiss was as if there was some invisible force-field that held him back.

I couldn't see any fire in his eyes and then for the first time I wondered....

"Hey Sue McGleno, whadda ya think....that Danny Kaye guy, maybe he's not truly inspired by chicks huh?"

Sue McGleno laughed, but then got annoyed.......

"Shut up. How would I know, and does it really matter?"

Well.....for the record, it didn't matter at all, but for my curiosity, I was dying to know, and let me tell you why.

I had always heard that Bing was kind of a jerk, on and off the set, and then it occurred to me that if Danny Kaye were gay, would that have prejudiced a confessed lout like Mr. Crosby?

When you watch the film, the chemistry between Bing and Danny was stellar.

Klecko finished watching the entire film with his pretty little bride, and when it was over, he tucked Sue McGleno into bed and then came back into the living room and watched the second running while reading Kerouac's Dharma Bums.

Day #2 Tuesday -

Its early afternoon and Hennessy is washing a pile of pastry dishes that almost qualify as what ever land mass is just one level smaller than a mountain.

Klecko's intercedes into her task and asks.....

"Do you know anything about Danny Kaye?"

Hennessy looks befuddled so Klecko continued.....

"I was just wondering, do you think Danny Kaye was straight or gay?"

There was no thought put into Hennessy's response.

"Danny Kaye was married." she replied.

Now I really laughed.......and said

"Yeah, the film was released in what...1954? I'm sure there were no gay guys that felt it necessary to mask their sexuality in a bogus marriage."

Hennessy stopped, laughed and then responded.......

"You may have a point there, after all, there was always Tony Randall huh? And he was still having kids in his 70's.

Tick-Tock goes the clock.........

The second night of White Christmas comes on (Episode #3 of 6) and now not only am I convinced that Danny Kaye is gay, but I am certain Bing realizes this, and then I kinda smirk because for such a pissy old man......Bing was cool with Danny. You could tell that these guys really respected one another.

So Klecko pops into his home office and drops a quick Facebook message that says....

"That skinny chick in White Christmas sure is pretty."

And then I continued about my business.

Now that the 3rd episode was past 1/2 way over. I realized that meant that the 3 day marathon was about 1/2 over.

Klecko was invested now and simply couldn't continue with supposition, he demanded clarification.

When absolutes are required, one needs not go any further than Mike Finley.

I called him..........

"Mike Finley here."

"Is Danny Kaye gay?" was the salutation I served my mentor.

Part of being a mentor is that when peeps ask you questions, you are usually obliged to add dramatic pauses to cause effect. As usual....Finley broke the rule and answered before the question passed my lips.

"Of course he was gay. He had a thing for Laurence Olivier. He followed him like a puppy. I'm pretty sure that they lived together for over a year."

After hanging up, Klecko called Hennessy. I usually don't like to bother employees during their own time, but pastry chefs are exempt from rules.

"Hennessy, I just talked to Finley. Danny Kaye W-A-S gay, had a thing for Sir Laurence...had it real bad I guess."

Then Hennessy replied with.......

"Hmmmmmmmmm..... but did you know that Bing beat his kids?"

Then she hung up, left me hanging while the cast was singing "What can You Do With A General"?

Could this be true? I didn't dare call Finley back. A guy only gets to ask one random question like this a day.

Stupid Pastry Chef!!!!! LOL, now I was starting episode #4 of 6 and I was depressed.

I didn't want the lead man to be a child beater.

Now Klecko utilizes a stretch of commercials by checking Facebook and he got a thread with a billion different answers about how I said Very Ellen was so pretty.

One of my friends who writes novels responded with.........

"Yeah, she died of anorexia. It was a very sad ending for her."

Some of my Facebook friends attached off colored jokes to this tidbit, but I didn't view them as funny at all.

I wondered how somebody so pretty, and so talented could fade into the woodwork.

I watch Turner Classic Movies everyday and I just haven't run into much of her work.

I picked Kerouac back up and he, I and the cast of White Christmas finished off episode #4.

Day #3 Wednesday -

White Christmas had taken over my life by this point. If you tell anybody, I swear to Polish Christ I'll deny it, but I was humming "Sisters" as well as "Count Your Blessings" throughout the work day.

By this time all the beautiful people in the Twin Cities had followed my lead and everybody was talking about this movie.

Questions were asked like....."How does it stack up against the other Christmas films?" or...."Was it even as good as Crosby's Holiday Inn?"

What started out as a simple night on the couch with Sue McGleno had somehow now morphed into a strange life experience.

Klecko couldn't even remember what any of the questions were.

So, during episode #5 of 6, Sue McGleno wrapped Christmas gifts and I acted as moral support. I really am the worlds worst present wrapper.

It was fun watching Sue McGleno watch this film again....why? Because it made her happy.

I almost had to laugh.

To me, this film had turned into a source of facts that made me curious, crabby and frightened, but to that little Russian - Jew I live was simply high octane merriment.

Same as ever, Sue McGleno crashes after episode #5 and Klecko crawls back out for the final showing.

I would be a liar if I didn't admit that this final viewing was paired with low levels of trepidation.

Klecko hates-hates-hates when routines and topics come to an end, but I did my best to stop being so sensitive.

The following morning I was off of work.

It is unusual for me to have a Thursday off, but I had to drive to Iowa to pick up Tydus and bring him home from college.

I left at 8 a.m., and by 9:25 I was just on the cusp off Amish territory.Up until this point I had been writing poems in my head, but I got bored and called Kim Ode.

"Star & Tribune, Kim Ode speaking."

I didn't need to announce myself.

"Did you see the thread on Facebook last night? what's her head said that Vera Ellen died from some kind of eating disorder?

"I did see this." Kim responded "I saw it, and then went on line but a lot of sources had her listed as dying from cancer, but then there was other articles that mentioned that the reason she always wore those dresses that covered her neck was because if you saw it, it was certain proof that she was malnourished."

I started to get depressed so I changed the subject.

"What are you serving for Christmas dinner?"

Then with some alley cat - wise guy voice, my best friend laughs and brags....

Perhaps I'll make something from my upcoming cookbook, you know it launches in March right?

Before I could ask what dish she was goi.....I was interrupted.

"Pork Morningside, my little riff on Beef Wellington, and then there will be ham with a rhubarb compote wrapped in puff pastry."

Klecko drives -

Klecko wonders -

Klecko asks -

"Seriously.....have you made this before?"

Than answering me as if she were off put by the doltish question, she answered....

"Yes, this will be my 3rd time."

Now I was starting to feel like I was in an episode of Seinfeld and a real Jerry and Elaine argument was about to commence.

Klecko -

"You can't experiment on Christmas with Christmas dinner. It's against the rules.It goes against common sense. It goes against Christ wrapped in a swaddling cloth."

Ode -

"It's not an experiment, I have made it twice. And our rule is that there are no rules concerning Christmas meals."

Klecko -

"Are you serious, I didn't make the rule....God and America did. You can't experiment on Christmas or Thanksgiving. You got 363 other days to fool around with your menu."

Ode -

"Well, we'll still be serving our twice baked potatoes. We've always had those."

I was nervous because by this point I really thought I was going to have an aneurysm and swerve off the road, who knows? Possibly taking out an Amish Buckboard while heading into the ditch.

Klecko -

"Side dishes don't-don't-don't count. We are talking entree here."

Ode -

"Are you and Sue McGleno preparing the same meal?"

Klecko -

"Yes, you know we are. We are civilized and will have homemade chicken pot pies!"

Ode -

"There is nothing civilized about pot pies, now if you were really going to be traditional, you'd go with a ham."

At points like this, some friends will decide to agree to disagree, but when you are best can decide to hate each other and throw the question out to the masses.......

And right then, just as I was about to hang up....Kim Ode kinda got nostalgic, it was hard to detect by listening to her voice....but I think she was starting to get choked up.

"Remember the closing scene where they open the curtain, and then that barn door and huge-puffy snowflakes are falling down, and as if that wasn't enough to get ya...then that sleigh comes into the picture.

It came out of nowhere."

And that my friends is why Klecko loves Ode.

But.....we still have one thing to ascertain.

Should you have the same traditional Christmas meal each year? Yes or no.

And if you have anymore comments on White Christmas, it's cast or song list....lay it on me kids.


  1. Pretty sure White Christmas is one of my absolute favorite movies ever. I would watch it all the time when I was little, and I most definitely look forward to making my boyfriend watch it with me this year. The Sisters act just never gets old.

  2. I so love reading your blog - you really share with all of us so much of who you are. I think it is wonderful that you are so happy for your son's friend coming out. A recent editorial in the Star Tribune was written by a 47 years of service priest who said he never once had a homosexual parishoner complain about straight parishoners wanting to get married. It was quite enlightening.

    My next point is for you to love the movie stars of the past for who they were in all of their glory. At that time, no one knew any of the crazy stuff we know about our modern day movie stars which was the fun of knowing only them as talented, beautiful examples of perfection. I get saddened when I think of the pain of Elvis Presley (I always thought I should have been Lisa Marie). They were real people, with real faults but for those moments on the silver screen, all was right with the world.

    As far as White Christmas being the best Christmas movie, I got to tell you the original version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is my favorite Christmas tradition, followed by the original of "Miracle on 34th Street", then "It's A Wonderful Life", and my favorite lately, "Elf". But White Christmas has the best music composition ever and as a musician, I can play all of the songs so it rocks.

    To your last point, Klecko, you seem so wise in so many ways but you have so much to learn. As to your question on the rules of Christmas, I will leave you with a quote for you to ponder.

    "The only rule is don't be boring and dress cute where ever you go. Life is too short to blend in." ~ Paris Hilton

  3. It amazes me that you have the energy to write these long loopy internal monologues ... some part of me would want to ruin it and squeeze it into a haiku diamond, until it was incomprehensible ...

    But you stretch out, all vulnerable like, and place your humorous, sometimes idiot persona at the heart of discovery ...

    Good writing.

    I feel like I have seen the movie in bits and pieces, on the Early Show after school in the 60s, but I may never have sat through it.

    I also feel that my comment to you was "inside dope" that I might have picked up in the too-hip 1970s. Someone with a knowing way intimated it, and I just accepted it. Or maybe a magazine article. I don't remember.

    Several other of these "everyone knows" stories, I bought into in my youth -- Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors? I took it as gospel. Bing Crosby was mean ... so his son's autobiography says. Johnny Carson was a cipher. J. D. Salinger kept to himself.

    But I know kids can twist things, from experience. Journalists and gossips, too. How is the average person to judge, or maybe he (yes, I am average) should just shut up and worry only about himself.

    Now about me and Lord Olivier ...

    Danny Kaye -- the thinking man's Jerry Lewis.

  4. O-M-G.....Sellman, I love you, I hate you LOL< You must be on Sue McGleno's bowling team, because you have learned how to slay me with my own weapons.

    Elvis was-is and always shall be King, I truly expect to see him sitting at the right hand of Christ if I get to heaven.

    And to defuse my logic, my rant with the words of my eternal heartthrob...I so love Paris Hilton.


    If "Danny Kaye - the thinking man's Jerry Lewis" doesn't merit an album cover...what does.

    And with all of that said.....

    I still think Christmas meal must stand firm, tradition must be anchored or the world will simply fall off it's swivel.

  5. WOW -

    Rock Star Chef / Joan Ida (Blue Plate) just contacted me off the board to inform me that she will be watching White Christmas tonight.

    But then she hit me with a factoid of epic levels.

    She said Vera Ellen was the inspiration for the Barbie Doll......

    Tell me there isn't a poem in that somewhere.

  6. Danny Kaye being gay or bi has been a frequent rumor, and that is pretty much denied by everyone who would have had first or second hand knowledge. It doesn't matter, really.