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......
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 her....it 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 with.....it 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.
"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."
"It's not an experiment, I have made it twice. And our rule is that there are no rules concerning Christmas meals."
"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."
"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.
"Side dishes don't-don't-don't count. We are talking entree here."
"Are you and Sue McGleno preparing the same meal?"
"Yes, you know we are. We are civilized and will have homemade chicken pot pies!"
"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 friends.....you 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.