Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Excerpt From "There is No Easy Street"


Early May – Loft 5F, Alphabet City, New York City, NY – 1996


“NO!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. “NO!”

“Ithaca Vianne Porter, you need to take your medicine,” Max said, his voice calm. “It’s good for you.”


“NO!” I screamed, stomping my feet. “It’s yucky and makes my tummy hurt.”


“Princess, you have to, even if you don’t like it,” Jett said. “You take your medicine now, you can come to the show with me later.”


“I don’t care.” I slouched to the floor looking up at my dads. The new combination of the medications made me really sick and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. 


“You don’t want to see Jessica, Abigail and the other girls tonight?” Jett asked. “They were really looking forward to seeing you.”


I sat on the floor staring at my dads. I was not going to take my medicine and they weren’t going to make me. Tricky came home just then and saw the standoff. 


“Dad huddle,” Max said, waving Tricky over. “We got to do something. If she doesn’t take her meds, she could die.”


“Three talented, creative men and we’re getting bested by a five year old,” Tricky said. “Jett, you got anything?”


“What about a song?” Jett said. “Something upbeat and fun.”


“That could work,” Max said. 


While Max worked on the song, Jett called the Avenue A Girls to help with phase two. Very rarely had I ever seen the girls out of their makeup and glam. Sometimes it would take me a minute or so to register who I was talking to. The nice thing was that all the girls let me call them by their queen name so it wasn’t as confusing to my five year old brain. 


The Avenue A Girls Drag Troupe consisted of my dad Jett/Circe, the emcee, his best friend aside from Max and Tricky, Harry Samuels aka Oleander Jane. Oleander was a really great dancer and she acted as the choreographer for the troupe. Then there’s Jessica Lane aka Josiah McIntire the comedian. Jessica also waits tables at several restaurants around the village. Marian aka Alan a’Dale, his real name, is the executive pastry chef at Strawberry Shortcake, the best bakery in Alphabet City. Abigail Moore aka Marcus Hawthorne is a flight attendant for British Airways. We didn’t get to see her as often as the others. When she was able to come to the shows she is the best Cher impersonator I have ever met. Rounding out the troupe is Crystal Claire aka Micah Haskins, the stockbroker. 


Growing up with these wonderful, fabulous women, they knew of my disease and would jump at a moments notice if Jett needed them. They’ve been my baby-sitters, tutors, cooks, and now conspirators to get me to take my medicine with little fight.


“All right ladies,” Jett said, gathering his friends in the kitchen. “Little Circe has been having a rough time of late. She doesn’t want to take her meds anymore. Now that she’s older, she’s realizing that we hide her pills in soup, sandwiches and whatnot and we don’t want that anymore. Max, Tricky and I are out of ideas.”


“What about a reward system?” Abigail said. “It works with my nephews to get their chores done.”


“Tried that already. She’s not one to take bribes,” Jett said. “We want her to enjoy it. We’ve been beating our brains out to come up with something.”


“What about a dance?” Oleander said. “Little Circe loves to dance. If she had something fun to do while taking her medicine she wouldn’t fight it as much.”


Max, Tricky and Jett looked at each other and groaned. “We are the biggest idiots on the planet! Why didn’t we think of that before?”


“Because you were thinking like parents,” Maid Marian said. 


Over the next several hours, Max composed and song while the girls and Tricky came up with a dance. I was playing in my room happy that I had won the battle. 


“Ithaca?” Max called from the living room. “Could you come here a second?”


“Coming Daddy!” I said, getting up from the floor. 


The sight in front of me made me stop in my tracks and started to giggle. Standing in a row wearing pink and purple boas and glittery tiaras was my three dads and their friends. I covered my mouth with my hand to keep from laughing too much. 


“The Avenue A Girls with super special guests Max Porter and Tricky Howard, present the world premiere of Take Your Pill and The AZT Dance!” Jett said in his best announcer’s voice. 


Max began to play a cheery, playful riff on his guitar while the girls and Tricky did simple step-touches with snaps. 


It’s time little one
To do something not so fun
I know you don’t want to
I know you’d rather eat a shoe
But it has to be done
So you can go run
Play, jump and dance
Skip, sing and prance


My crazy friends and family began to skip and hop around dancing kind of together and kind of not in time to the song Max was singing. The words were catchy and I found myself bobbing my head along with them. 


But first take this pill
And I promise you will
Get to run away
But now you have to stay
For just a minute more
This weekend we’ll go to the seashore


Oleander comes over and takes my hand and I start dancing with them. I spun and snapped, did my best jazz hands. It was fun. 


It’s time little one
To do something no so fun
I know it’s something you hate
But it’s something you need to tolerate
So you can get to the things you like
Boating, swimming, riding your bike
Museums, ballet and pony
Grandma’s house, the Plaza and Coney
But first take this pill
And I promise you will
Get to run away
But now you have to stay
For just a minute more
This weekend we’ll go to the seashore
It’s time little one
To do something not fun
I get you don’t feel well
I get that you want to be swell
In order to do that
We have to end this spat
To do so you must
Take this pill


“Sing it again!” I cried after falling into a pile of feathers with the girls. “Sing it again!”


“Now Ithaca, we’ll sing the song and do the dance every time you take your medicine without a fight,” Max said. “Do you think you could do that?”


“That was so much fun Daddy!” I exclaimed. 


In fact the song became so popular after Oleander shared it at her support group for people with HIV, that it became a permanent song in their show. Max ended up recording it and it became a huge hit with almost anyone who heard it. The Brooklyn Medical Center’s PATH Center gave out copies of the song to new patients. One crazy afternoon in May of 1996 gave my father his second biggest hit of his entire career.