Truth, Justice and the American Way. That has been Superman’s motto since his inception. However, in the recent Action Comics #900, he renounced his U.S. citizenship. His reasoning is that he is an alien himself (from another planet, of course) and that his actions should be viewed more worldly and not that of the United States. Pal Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance covered this a few days ago and the internet exploded. It has made international news and people are going crazy over this so called issue. Staunch Americans are pissed off that their icon is turning traitor and are starting petitions to boycott Warner Brothers. Others are saying it’s about time he became a global symbol. Me? I’m on the side of HE’S A COMIC BOOK CHARACTER side.
If the media digs deep, boy howdy will they be disturbed by this Superman tale.
What’s that you say? That doesn’t count because it was part of DC Comics “Elseworlds” line where they take iconic characters and change their established histories so it’s an imaginary story?” Unlike the “regular” Superman stories that are based on real life. Gotcha.
Or what about this? Superman if he was born in England!
And English actor Henry Cavill has been cast to play Superman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming film, The Man of Steel. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Just remember, kids. While Superman is awesome, he isn’t a real being. Now Batman on the other hand…
My secret is out. All thanks to my friend Emily who had this prophetic and revealing dream about me the other night. In her words:
“So I totally had this dream last night where you came and saw the Vampire Cowboys show (Agent G) then had to go to work afterwards. Except your work was replaced by this cozy little one room bar that had cafe tables, lit only by candles with walls made of large tiles and one wall was just a huge window. And everyone (being myself, Cass, Paul Pope, and some skinny guy I didn’t recognize) went to visit you and say hi and have a few drinks. We sat around the booth in back, chatting and being chill. Then the next day some men show up asking questions about you and it turns out that you are actually a Russian spy and have been for years. They show us how there were actually secret hiding spots and passageways in the bar Your escape route was through a crawlspace that was found by pushing on the top row of tiles above the booth in back that opened to reveal a passageway to your tiny bedroom behind the wall, which had been cleaned out as you had obviously took off in a hurry. We all felt really bad and told the Feds nothing about you, because even if you were a spy, it had to be with a good reason. Then, like 2 days later, this random guy shows up. Me and I think Bonnie are walking to the theater. He looks like a hairier version of Judah Freidlander minus the baseball cap and glasses. I realize it’s you and try to talk to you. You just shook your head, didn’t say anything, motioned for us to follow you, and led us to a super fancy and well equipped building way on the East side next to the river. But just as we are about to go in, we are surrounded by the Feds who have been following us. Fortunately you manage to escape into the building and they run after you. Obviously we’re really upset that they used us to find you, but somehow you manage to evade them just long enough to come running out, say goodbye forever in your actual voice, which was with a thick Russian accent, and apologize for not telling us your secret sooner, then disappear into the night.”
Daz vidanya, comrades. Mother Russia calls me back home. I’ll drink some vodka in your honor. Na Zdrovia! At least my dear Olga is happily awaiting my return.
Reviews: Danger Girl and The Army of Darkness #1, Dark Horse Presents #1, Super Dinosaur #1, Doctor Who Season 6, Episode 1: The Impossible Astronaut
Jon Hoche jumps in to the co-host seat again. Jimmy remembers his dear friend Kirk Torigoe and shares some stories about him. News includes: Hero Initiative to benefit Josh Medors, Greg Rucka/Rick Burchett’s new comic, Sony Playstation Network crashes, Batman: Year One animated and a Game of Thrones fight. Also, is Jimmy a Russian spy? As always, the Top 3, listener feedback and more! Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love!
As you know, I have a podcast called Comic News Insider. But what you may not know, is that I listen to a ridiculous amount of them. Before CNI started in April 2005, I was already listening to a few tech ones like This Week in Tech and DiggNation. Now, it’s just silly how many I listen to. Many are podcasts that friends do. I may not necessarily always love what they chat about, but I do love supporting them and hearing their voices. Especially if they don’t live here. It’s like we’re hanging out! Here is a list of podcasts that I listen to regularly:
Yes, I know. I listen to a lot of BBC podcasts. Cor blimey! And there are others out there that I listen to occasionally depending on their guest. Podcasts like The Adam Carolla show, Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, WTF with Marc Maron and others. There were some great podcasts based on TV shows that are now gone since the show is over. Like the Battlestar Galactica one hosted by series creator Ronald Moore, The Official Lost podcast with showrunners Damon Lindeloff/Carlton Cuse and the Doctor Who official podcast. If you’re catching up on those shows, then check out the podcasts too!
Go check out a few if you’re so inclined. Of course, after you’ve finished listening to the latest episode of Comic News Insider!
p.s. I’m sure I’ve upset a few friends that I don’t listen to their podcasts. Sorry, but as you see…I listen to a ton! And I do check in on various podcasts from time to time and give a listen. So there!
Royal Wedding fever has hit the world! Well, except for in the UK. It seems a lot of my friends over there absolutely HATE any mention of it. Speaking for myself and fellow Americans (yes, I speak for America), I think we like it for the novelty of it. Sure, we fought against and left royalty behind us back in the late 1700’s but that was ages ago! I think we just find it fascinating. That being said, my UK brethren do not.
I get that it’s costing you in taxes to pay for the wedding. That sucks royal arse. But I see lots of piss and vinegar about the event on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. All from friends in the UK. Literally posts wishing ill will upon the soon to be wedded couple. I don’t understand this. And don’t dare bring up the late Princess Di. She’s more hated than any royal, it seems. I remember a friend explaining it to me but I don’t remember exactly what was said.
Can my UK pals explain the hate? That is, in a civil and adult manner? Not with just, “Because they’re c*nts”. While funny, I (and many fellow Yanks) are curious. Thanks.
Oh, and send me some dark chocolate HobNobs while you’re at it.
Any time Ben Templesmith and I get in a conversation, often it quickly spirals downward into body parts, etc. Particularly balls. As we chatted, he said he wanted to make a website dedicated to mine. I decided to type in “Jimmy’s Balls” and got sent to this site. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work!
If you go to “products” you can purchase things like in the picture above along with “Licky Things” and “Pecker Recker”. Seriously.
The phrase “hung like a horse” entered my mind too many times when viewing this site. Go enjoy some hangin’ balls!
Constantly putting down TV shows, movies, books, etc. doesn’t make you come across like you are the be all and end all of the universe. No one thinks, “Hey, this person doesn’t find that funny, so I must be stupid for liking it.” Or, “Wow. This person is hating on a movie and refuses to see it, so I shouldn’t either even if I want to.” No, it makes you come across like a smug asshole. A wannabe know-it-all who thinks they are better than the rest of us and if we DARE to like something you don’t deem worthy of your attention, then we are idiots.
I found out last night that an old friend, Kirk Torigoe, had died. No details that we know of yet except that he passed away earlier in the week. I hadn’t seen or talked to Kirk in a couple of years but I always remember him fondly. Please indulge me as I share some fun rememberances from when we did a show together and how he possibly saved my life.
I first met Kirk in 1999. We both got cast in The King and I at the Carousel Dinner Theater in Akron, Ohio. (All pictures are from that time period). The production company put the cast up in local housing while we were performing for 3-4 months. Kirk and Pio were my roomies. Since Kirk and I were both non-union at the time, we got paired into sharing a room.
It was one of those rare casts where almost everyone got along. Probably having so many of us Asians in the cast helped! Kirk and I immediately hit it off. Pio and I were a bit older (maybe 7 years?) than he but I adopted him like a little brother. I used to tease him for always being on the phone. I have so many pictures of him doing that! See?
Of course, it was just a good natured ribbing and he always took it that way. That was the thing about Kirk. He always just rolled with it. I honestly don’t ever remember him getting upset about anything or arguing with anyone. Sure, there may have been a few times here and there but nothing monumental. Always the voice of reason. And he was funny! Now, you know I think I’m hilarious but Kirk had some zingers in him as well. We both loved our roomie, Pio. But we would tease him for magically finding the “All Golden Girls, All the time” channel. Seriously, it seemed like any time we walked in the door, it was on!
One of the funniest moments was opening night. We all partied at the theater and then came back to the apartment complex to drink and party. We all kept going from apartment to apartment. Some of us ended up in our unit. I had the lights down, candles lit and music blasting. It was a dance party! At one point, I was dancing with a few of the girls in the living room and I looked over and saw a shadowy figure sitting in the kitchen. It was Kirk. He was just sitting there. Eating cereal. And enjoying the fact that we were all having fun. We locked eyes and started cracking up. That was one of our running jokes for a long time. Me dancing and him eating cereal in the dark!
The above picture is a sexy photo shoot some of the cast did for a charity event for Equity Fights AIDS. It was a variety show and we all contributed. Kirk choreographed one of the numbers and was in most of them. We used to laugh at how serious and sexy we were trying to be in that picture!
And, the boy flat out saved my life. If you know me, then you know I’m sociable and like to go out. The cast did often to stave off the boredom. And, you know I can get my drink on and hold my liquor. On very rare occasions, I go overboard and my body reminds me. I don’t remember what I drank one night but I do know that I was shattered. Completely drunk. Smashed. I’m sure it was Kirk who put me in my bed and I promptly passed out.
Next day, I wake up and notice an odor. Yep. I got sick in the night as I slept. Instead of waking me up, Kirk got out of bed, turned me on my side so I wouldn’t choke and cleaned me up. I slept right through it. And to show just what a humble guy he was, he didn’t even tell me. Someone else in the cast did. When I saw him later, I had to ask him what happened and then he told me. I apologized profusely and he just smiled and we laughed about what a drunken idiot I was that night. He never got upset about it even though he had every right. Amazing friend. I’ve never forgotten that.
As mentioned, I haven’t spoken to or seen him in a couple of years. Lives in New York City move around so much and I’ve been out of the acting biz for some time. We were just doing different things. But any time his name was brought up, it was always a happy memory. Still, even though we hadn’t spoken in awhile, this has really affected me. That happens when a good person is taken out of your life. I’m just…terribly saddened. He was a young guy in his 30’s with a beautiful young daughter named Meana. My heart goes out to her and his family.
We are saddened when a celebrity we admire passes away. Some people find that silly, but people touch our lives in different ways. And when a person you know in real life is gone, the heart sinks that much more. So much more. It makes your own mortality real. We always say we wish we could have spent more time with someone after they’re gone. But it’s true. I wish we had stayed in touch over the past couple of years. Even though we didn’t, I’ll still miss him.
Farewell, my friend. We’ll dance together again in that “Small House of Uncle Thomas” in the sky. I’ll bring the cereal.
This is one of my best pals Ben Templesmith & I. If you don’t know who he is, he’s a rockin’ comic book artist who got famous from doing the art (and co-creating) on the original 30 Days of Night comic. (The look of the vampires in the movie was based on his art). He’s done so much more amazing work like Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, Welcome to Hoxford, Choker, Fell, Groom Lake among others.
Often when we chat online, the conversation becomes debaucherous frat boy style humor. Which is not my norm, but the Aussie chap brings it out in me. We just got done talking on Skype and the conversation started with balls. And ended with balls. The question being: Be you man or woman, when you are with your male companion, do you cup both or just one? Or, if you are the male companion, do you want one or both cupped? I say both. He says just the one. I leave it up to you internet. Ball or Balls?!!!
You may recognize actress Jessica Collins from her starring roles in such TV shows as Scoundrels, Big Shots, Tru Calling, and Unscripted. Guest spots in CSI: Miami, Nip/Tuck, Star Trek: Voyager and so much more. I met her a few years back and we became pals. So allow me to pimp her website out a bit. And it’s not about acting!
She’s been cooking for years. As she says on her site:
“One of the ways I’ve stayed grounded in my crazy industry is through my connection with cooking. I find it very therapeutic and it brings me great joy to share this passion with friends and family, and now hopefully you.
Always looking to further myself as a chef, I enrolled and proudly graduated from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. After which, I spent time in a professional test kitchen, “worked the line” in a fancy restaurant, and even did a little catering. But my favorite place to cook, like most people, is in my own home where I’m known as “Chef Jess’.”
She started a website where she posts recipes of food she or a friend has made. Along with delicious looking pictures! Last year, she started shooting a short video show called SUGARED. (New episode out now. Clickety click!) It’s her baking in her own kitchen. She’s a great host and knows her way around that kitchen. And it’s all about desserts! My favorite! She’s only done a few episodes but I’m really hoping more people notice this and it gets picked up into a regular show. It’s well shot and like I said, she’s fantastic. Sure, easy on the eyes and a master with the pies. Hey, that could be her slogan!
The only thing that bothers me is that she’s on the west coast and I can’t sample any of her cooking. I’m trying to convince her to just start sending me homemade sweets in the mail. How can you say “no” to this face, Jess?
Everyone go watch SUGARED and check out her recipes. Maybe it’ll convince her to send me some of her chocolate chip cookies or something. Or I’ll be forced to fly out there and get them myself.
For what seemed like a lifetime, I awaited Marsha’s response.
Would she respond with more information proving we are brother and sister? Or more information proving we aren’t? We’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Led astray. Run amok. We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us!
Finally, I get the email. Once again, not verbatim, but it went a little something like this.
Well…my mother called me today and confessed to her clandestine ways. She figured it’s probably time I knew the truth at 23. She was just trying to protect me, which I guess I understand. It doesn’t lessen the anger, but I am working through it. So, yes. YOU ARE MY BROTHER! There is no further debate upon the subject. I look forward to getting to know you!
Relieved and elated, I calmly leapt from my chair, did a back flip and landed on my head. After coming out of my coma, I did it again. I can’t even explain how blessed I felt. It was official! I have a baby sister.
Over the next couple of weeks, we emailed and talked on the phone. Catching up for 20+ lost years in a matter of 14 days is no easy task. But, we managed. We both have the gift of gab. Yep. We’re related.
We wanted to meet up, so we made plans to do so. She came out with a friend to New York City. We had gotten to know each other over the phone and via the internet, but hadn’t had a face to face. Okay, now what do I wear? I didn’t want to scare her with my keen fashion sense. Note to self: Put the leather and chains away. For now.
I was to pick her up at the train station. Now, we had sent pictures, so we knew what the other looked like. And sure enough, I see her coming toward me! Yep. That’s my little sis. We hug for quite awhile and just start with the jabber jawing. I felt bad for the friend she brought, because she barely got to say a word. I must have seemed like I was big pimping to sis. At the time, I was subletting this enormous apartment with a balcony and all of the accoutrements. And, since I knew everyone in the bar and restaurant biz, we got free meals and drinks every where we went. I tried to explain to her that the apartment thing was temporary and that I just happen to know a lot of people in the restaurant biz. She probably thought I was some multi-gajillionaire.
There we are. Sis on the left, me and her friend. See? We even dress alike! It’s like those old commercials. “Martha burns her hand while lighting a candle. Meanwhile, over 1000 miles away, her mother burns her same hand while cooking. Coincidence? I don’t think so!”
We had a great time, of course. I just showed her around and wined and dined. We didn’t get too much into the family history. We just tried to enjoy each other and learn all that we had missed.
A couple of months later, I went out to New Jersey to visit her. We spent the day at the Jersey shore and hung out on the boardwalk. We even took one of those old time photos.
It was pretty funny. There was this high school girl setting us up for the picture. I guess she didn’t realize we were related. She started to put Marsha’s leg over my shoulder and we had to stop her. We just met and all, but it’s my sister for the love of Billy the Kid!
I liked saying that. “My sister”. It was like I had discovered a new phrase and had to keep repeating it. Sort of a catch phrase. My very own, “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”
Over the years, we have become extremely close. I really feel like we grew up together. As does she. I love this girl more than anything and it’s the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Naturally, I think it’s the greatest story ever told. (Sorry, Jesus.) But, I’m a bit biased.
She still lives in New Jersey with her fiance’, Bob. They are getting married on 7/7/07. And I’m getting ordained online so that I can marry them! Father Jimmy at your service! Lock up your altar boys. I prefer the Catholic school girls in their skirts anyway. Wait, that’s illegal too? God damn it! Great. Now I’m being blasphemous. Sigh.
We see each other often, be it me going out there or she coming out to NYC. She’s a mere 2 hours away by train. We talk often and have grown closer than any family member I’ve ever had besides my mother and late grandmother. We lovingly pick on each other like any good siblings do. She about my love for strippers and me about her love for white zinfandel.
It’s so great to finally have someone in my life who just loves me unconditionally. And vice-versa. How do I know? Well, she worked the Comic News Insider booth at New York Comic-Con this year (2006). If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is.
In retrospect, even through all of the anger and deception, I’m glad my father finally said those words 10 years ago.
"By the way, you have a sister."
And that, I do.
UPDATE: This was last updated a few years back. The wedding to Bob (as performed by me, Reverend Jimmy) went w/o a hitch and she has 2 amazing kids. Maximus (soon to be 3) and miracle niece Chloe (1 1/2). I could have never known any of this. And now I do. And my life is that much better because of it.
Jon Hoche steps back into the guest co-host chair this week. No comic book reviews this week due to a slow week but they give their thoughts on HBO’s Game of Thrones and James Gunn’s new superhero dark comedy Super. Jimmy gives love to some friends doing great comedy, gets excited about Doctor Who premiere and remembers the amazing Elisabeth Sladen. The boys also debate the age old question: Is Casper the Friendly Ghost actually a dead Richie Rich? News includes: Ultimate Spider-man update, a Dark Knight Returns animated feature rumor, Dark Knight Rises casting, anotherThe Boys spin-off and the end of Tokyopop. As always, the Top 3, listener feedback and more! Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love!
Someone buy me this camera! It’s the Pentax RS1500. They teamed up with Warner Bros. to offer a limited edition camera with interchangeable skins featuring retro versions of Batman, Catwoman, The Flash, Green Lantern, The Joker, Superman, and Wonder Woman. It features a 14 megapixel CCD sensor, 4x optical zoom, HD video recording (30 fps) and 3” LCD screen. (Whatever all of that mumbo jumbo means). And a nifty Green Lantern case! It’s gonna be about $200 and available in May.
I came to Doctor Who later in life. I remember watching a handful of episodes when I was a kid but just didn’t get into it like I did other sci-fi. Then, when BBC America started showing the new Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston, I was hooked. When David Tennant took over, I was even more into it. And suddenly, this visage appears on screen in the episode “School Reunion”. Elisabeth Sladen. Obviously a beauty nearing age 60 at the time. Fantastic actress and really engaging to watch. I immediately looked her up and wanted to get some of the old episodes of Doctor Who that she was on.
And then she appeared a few more times which led to her getting her own series,The Sarah Jane Adventures. A wonderful children’s series revolving around her character, faithful robot dog K-9, adopted son Luke and friends. They encountered aliens and Doctor Who-esque adventures along the way. I wish BBC America had shown more than just the first season though the rest are available on DVD. Go watch them. It’ll put a smile on your face.
"Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. It’s her! What do I say? How do I answer? Chill. Just pick up the phone and answer. Wait. Don’t appear too eager. Let it ring again."
The phone rings a second time. Again, I start with the thinking.
"Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. Just pick it up! Give your salutations and start talking! Simple as that. Wait! I’m not ready. One more ring."
The phone rings a third time. I start to think, but then just say “screw it” and answer.
"Hi. Jimmy? It’s Marsha."
Dead silence. Speak up, damn it! Well, she’s not speaking either. Someone say something! What seemed like minutes was actually about 5 seconds of silence. Great. Nice way to start off. Then, as if on cue, we both just start cracking up laughing. I finally speak through the laughter.
"Well, that was almost awkward and ridiculous! I’m so glad you don’t sound like a monkey on crack!"
Marsha laughs and questionably replies.
I realize she may not be ready for my brand of humor and I quickly shut it down.
We talk for a couple of hours. Just telling each other about our lives. And how screwed up it is that we are just meeting. But, how great it is that we finally are meeting! It felt like we had known each other our whole lives. Like we actually did grow up together. As I listened to Marsha tell me about her life, I hung on every word. Soaked in every detail. Not wanting to miss anything. Seeing as how I had missed the first 23 years of her life, I wanted the rest to be committed to memory. We ended the conversation with excitement and hope and the realization that our lives had just changed. Dramatically. She was nervous, because she still hadn’t told her mother about my emails or the call. She wanted to wait a few days to gather the right words.
Over the next couple of days, we talked again and emailed again. I assured her that there was no question in my mind that she was my sister. And she really felt like there was no doubt that I was her big brother. Still, she had to run it by her mother. That day came. I anxiously and precariously awaited her call or email to hear the results.
I was quite dismayed by what my eyes read. My heart broke in pieces. Here, I thought I had found my baby sister. That missing link in my life. There was no question that we shared DNA. However, her email went something like this.
I am so confused and upset and bewildered! I talked, well it was more like yelled, with my mother and she said that it wasn’t true. You aren’t my brother. Marcial isn’t my father. It was not a pretty conversation and we both left it tearful and disconcerted. I suspected my mother was just covering up and I demanded that she tell me the truth. She maintained that we were not related. I am sorry, Jimmy. I don’t know what to think. If you aren’t my brother, then at least I think I made a good friend. I feel like you are, but I don’t know what to think any more. I need to figure some stuff out and we’ll talk soon.
I used to be a big cry baby. For years. Then I realized that it was stupid and unnecessary. (For me). So, I kind of stopped doing it. I have to admit that I openly wept upon reading this. I knew, just knew she was my sister. Why would her mother not tell her? And, was my father wrong? In his old age and thick accent, did he become confused? Now, I was second guessing. Through the tears, I did my best to gather myself and replied.
I don’t know what is going on. But, I do know one thing. YOU ARE MY SISTER! I just know it. I feel it. I felt it the first time we spoke on the phone. I think you did too. If for some weird cosmic reason, we have been fooled, then I apologize for creating all of this. If not, and we are…well, then…we are. Please don’t give up. I know I won’t. We will figure this out. Trust in that.
I hit “send” and awaited a response. A response I feared would never come.
I’ve told this story in the past, but figured it deserves a retelling. My first Passover!
Years ago, I went to Baltimore with my friend, Kerri, to her home for Passover. I knew her family well and was welcome with open arms. And besides, they had made me an honorary Jew years before! Passover, for you non-Jewish folks and unedumacated types, is an annual feast commemorating the deliverance of the firstborn in Egypt when the Angel of Death took all those who did not have blood on their doorpost. A bit macabre, I’d say! More positively, it celebrates the great Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and their freedom from slavery. What drew me, of course, was the operative word of FEAST! The first 2 nights of Passover, Seders (a service and meal) are held.
The first Seder was held at Kerri’s home. Her parents had invited some guests. There were a couple of other non-Jewish guests in the house as well. I was excited about learning the ceremony, participating and eating the food. Bring on the Manischewitz and Matzoh! I was given a beanie…uh…yarmulke to wear and placed in a prominent spot at the table near Elijah. Well, near his plate. We all gathered and they left the door ajar for ol’ Eli. “He must be notoriously late.”, I thought. I wasn’t sure if he was a relative or friend, but obviously the holiday wasn’t that important to him. The jerk never showed up! This Seder was pretty formal, traditional and serious. We enjoyed the dining and reading from the book called the haggadah. The haggadah tells the story of the Exodus of Egypt and explains some of the practices and symbols of the holiday. I got to read from it too! Now, growing up Catholic, my bible story knowledge is pretty substantial. Plus, I played Peter/Simon (u/s) in Jesus Christ Superstar and Jesus in Godspell. (Godspell takes its text directly from the Bible). Fun stories at the dinner table! We finished up and hit the sack.
Next day, the Seder was held at her best friend’s home. This was a very casual affair. More like a party. Still, lots of family and friends. However, this time, I was the only non-Jew in attendance. The mother, Rhona, was very sweet and had this smoky accented voice. Think Mike Myers in his sketch on Saturday Night Live, “Coffee Talk”. She kind of looked like him up there in the pic too! Rhona gives me a big hug and kiss and says, “You’re the guest of honor, so you’ll be at the head of the table.” This Elijah guy was normally the honoree, but, as you just read, his track record of showing up is not good. Once again, I got to put on the beanie! We sit down at the table, me at the head as promised from Rhona. She immediately comes over and offers me some Manischewitz. “Here ya go, honey! Drink up and enjoy!” As she is handing me the glass she drops it and it spills all in my lap. Of course, Rhona felt awful and without missing a beat says, “Honey, take off your pants and I’ll wash them for you.” I promptly did. Hey, I was a guest. So, I sat and had dinner in my boxers. No, no. Just joshing. I politely declined and toweled off the boiled wine. I know. It would be a better story if I did take my pants off. Anyway, dried off as best I could, the dinner started.
As we began reading from the haggadah, another guest, let’s call him Schmucky, stopped us and said, “Let’s not read from the book. Let’s just talk about the story of the Exodus.” Ooooh! Pop quiz time! I’m good at these! And, I was pretty confident I knew the story of Moses, Joseph and that whole Egyptian chapter. Schmucky starts talking about the story of Joseph. Another story that I was pretty familiar with. Kerri had played “The Narrator” in the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was offered the show once, but turned it down for another gig. Jesus Christ Superstar, I believe. I figured the story of Jesus was more important that Joe and his jacket. Schmucky decides to play moderator and starts talking about Joseph and then asked some questions. “Joseph and his brothers, blah blah, the coat, blah blah,etc.” Then he asks, “Who was Joseph’s father?” Kerri and I look at each other and quietly sing, “Jacob and Sons!” This was a song from the Joseph…Dreamcoat musical. I proudly reply with the right answer, “Jacob!”
Schmucky turns to me and says, “No, it was Isaac.” Kerri and I look at each other in bewilderment. How could Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice be wrong? I defiantly strike back and say, “No, it was Jacob.” Schmucky retorts, “I’m pretty sure it was Isaac.” Of course, I knew I was right and replied, “And I’m pretty sure it was Jacob.”
I suddenly realized I was the only gentile at the table and the tension that I helped create was a-w-k-w-a-r-d. Here I am arguing with a Jew, on their holiday. Even though I was right. I was about to back down out of respect when others finally piped in. “It was Jacob.” “Yeah, I think Jimmy’s right.” “Jacob is the father of Joseph.”,etc. And the kicker was Schmucky’s wife leaning into him, “Honey, it was Jacob. Let it go.”
Of course, Schmucky was stubborn and couldn’t admit defeat. “Well, I guess no one is sure. We can figure it out later. Let’s move on.” NO ONE is sure? Didn’t you hear the entire table of 20+ people say it was Jacob?! Still, I felt triumphant in my …uh…triumph. Kerri and I had a good giggle over it knowing we were right. Her best friend quietly agreed with us later and said that guy was being a….well…schmuck!
Dinner continued without a hitch. The pants dried up. Old reliable Elijah never showed. Much Manischewitz was had by all. We retired to the dining room and continued to drink and party. It was actually a lot of fun! I had many people come up to me and say how I was right during the now infamous “Who’s Joseph’s Daddy?” disagreement. I chatted with Rhona’s mother for a bit and as we left she gave me a big kiss. On the lips. With her mouth open. WHY ON THE LIPS?!! I mean, her daughter, Rhona, wanted my pants off and now this! What is up with that family?
Seders are only the first 2 nights of Passover. So, the next day, Kerri took me to downtown Baltimore. I learned of another tradition that they have. Hooters. Yep, the restaurant. It was Kerri’s idea! I swear! I grew up in Florida where these restaurants started out. Dated a couple of Hooters’ girls and had many a friend work there. So, it’s not a big deal. Kerri had never been and always wanted to go. So, we did! Yeah, that’s us up there in the pic. Apparently, Baltimore had slim pickings during their hiring process. Yikes!
On occasion, I crave some matzoh and Manischewitz. When I do, I go get some, wear wet pants, put on a beanie, pop in my Joseph…Dreamcoat DVD and sing at the top of my lungs, “JACOB! JACOB AND SONS!”
I couldn’t believe it. As I was reading Marsha’s email, tears of joy filled my eyes and excitement overcame me. I read it over and over again. She explained that she was actually born in 1977, not 1976 and that she did indeed use to live in Norfolk. She, too, was born in Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia. She told me how she often wondered why Marcial would come over to her house and only bring presents for her, and not her brother,Tony, that she grew up with. She was raised to believe that a man named Antonio Rolls was her father. See a pattern in the non-originality of names? Antonio. Tony. Antonio ended up leaving for the Philippines when she was 12. She had a few examples of almost finding out about the truth of her existence. Only to have those theories and stories shot down by family.
One time, she had taken a job as a hotel clerk in a small town in Norfolk. She was about 18. On her first night of work, she relieved the other clerk, who was about her mother’s age. Now, I wasn’t there, but from Marsha’s story, this is how I think the scenario went down. Marsha walks in and greets the other woman.
"Hi! My name is Marsha. It’s my first night, so forgive me if I don’t know what I’m doing."
The woman softly replies.
"Welcome. My name is Skii. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with."
They continue exchanging pleasantries and perhaps go over work stuff. During this time, I imagine, is when something was revealed to Skii that made her blurt out.
"Wait a minute. I remember you! I knew you when you were in diapers. Marsha! How are you?"
Naturally, Marsha remembered it all. She’s a smart girl and could remember back to her diaper days. No, of course not! She was just a baby, for Pete’s sake! Marsha responds.
"Oh, did you know my mom and dad?"
Skii nods her head and asks.
"How is your father doing?"
Marsha gives the quick history.
"Well, he went back to the Philippines when I was 12 and haven’t heard from him since. So, I guess he’s fine."
Skii seemed confused by this.
"I heard that Marcial was back in town. Maybe I was wrong. Are you sure?"
Marsha kind of laughs and clears up the confusion with Skii.
"Marcial? Do you mean Marcial Aquino? No, he’s not my dad. More like an uncle. My dad is Antonio Rolls."
Skii grimaces at this news.
"I’m not sure if I’m the one to tell you. But, Marcial is your father. I know for a fact. I was there! I held you in my arms when you were a little baby. Antonio Rolls is not your father. Marcial Aquino is your father."
Confused and upset, Marsha is unsure what to think. They talk a little more about it and she decides to confront her mother when she gets home. Her mother quickly dismisses the story saying that Skii didn’t know what she was talking about. Not sure what to think, Marsha eventually dismisses the story as well.
I get it. A mother fiercely wants to protect her kids. She must have feared breaking the news to Marsha would have caused issues and didn’t see the sense. How could it help her?
She goes on to tell me that she lives in New Jersey. My eyes got wider and wider with excitement! I mean, think about it. She could have lived in Guam. Madagascar. Iowa. Anywhere! Instead, she’s a state away! Probably only a couple of hours by train or bus! Now, you may remember my possible move out to Las Vegas at that time. Let me tell you, finding out that my little sister lived so close by helped with the decision. I had been waffling on whether or not to go for sure. To have a chance to get to know my sister that lived so close by? No contest. I was not going anywhere.
She thanked me for my efforts and said how she would have never known. She ended the email with a cute little “p.s.”
"How old are you?"
Well, I knew she was 23 and all and I didn’t reveal too much about myself in the initial email. I immediately respond and go into a little more detail about myself. (Leaving out all of the stripper stuff, of course.) I tell her that I live in New York City and am glad that she is so close by. I give her my phone number where I’m staying and tell her a good time to call, if she wants. I was trying to just give her highlights of my life in general. Not too much so as not to scare her off. Hey, I’ve got some scary stuff in there! I sent her a couple of pics in the email with a warning that I’m a hippie freak. Didn’t want the long hair to throw her off. I’m her big brother, not big sister!
She responds with saying she is only 1 1/2 hours away! Gives me a few more tidbits on life, but didn’t send any pics because she didn’t have a scanner or digital camera. But, promised to send some when she was at her friend’s house. She tells me she is going to call me in a couple of days. I couldn’t wait!
The day of the phone call comes. I get home and anxiously await. What is she going to sound like? Normal? Or like a monkey on crack? Trust me, I know that sound all too well. What if she had one of those really annoying voices that just grate on your nerves like fingers on a chalkboard? That would suck hard. Then again, what if she thought that I sounded freaky? That would suck even harder.
There was a bigger contemplation than the sound of our voices. What the hell were we going to talk about? And would it be a-w-k-w-a-r-d? Where would we start? I’m an actor and pretty good at improvisation, but should I have something scripted to give her a little background? No, that’s so rehearsed. I act on stage, not in my real life. I told myself, “Just let it flow. Be natural. Be real. Be yourself.” But, being myself sometimes freaks people out. She seemed to have a similar sense of humor in her email, but maybe I should reign it in at first. Let her get to know me and decide on her own if I am a freak or not. Just be cool. I can’t remember for sure, but I may have taken a swig of bourbon out of the old flask to settle the nerves.
I love just about everything Jason, so I'm looking forward to my order coming in that book in it.
But look at you... you mentioned Natasha, Kristen Schaal, and Tiny Fey. If you like female comics so much, we've gotta get you to an Ophira Eisenberg show. She gets back today after filming a couple of sets at the Halifax Comedy Festival in Canada (as opposed to Halifax, Queens).
I’m a fan of comedy in general, not just female comics. But I do loves ‘em, I do! And sure, I’d totally check out one of your wife’s gigs. Keep me posted.
I’m not sure if you are the Marsha I’m looking for. My name is Jimmy Aquino. I’m searching for Marsha Jean Rolls, born 7/2/76 at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. Mother’s name is Valerie Rolls, I believe. This may be a little jarring for you if you are the one I seek. I found out a few years back that I have a half sister. You. I had tried to search for years but had the wrong last name. Recently, my father, Marcial Aquino, came back from the Philippines and I got the correct information. I really would like it if we could be in touch. I understand if this is something you don’t want to discuss or deal with. For the record, I don’t speak to him much. I saw him for the first time in 5 years just recently and hadn’t seen him in 8 years prior to that. When he told me about you about 5 years ago, he reminded me of a trip we took when I was younger and we visited you. At the time, I think I was 11 or 12. My older brother, Bobby, knew and kept in touch with you. I was not old enough to deal, or so it was thought. I am now. I am very angry that I wasn’t told about you but am excited to find that I have a sister. As I said, I understand if this is difficult for you. If you could please reply to let me know something, that would be great. I hope all is well with you. If for some reason this is not the Marsha I’m looking for, please disregard and accept my apology. Also, please reply and let me know if you’re not her. Thanks. I hope to hear from you soon. Take care.
Peace and Love
p.s. I’m not exactly sure what to say, so I hope I made sense. “
Yes, that’s the actual email I sent. I tried to get all of the info in without scaring her off. As I mentioned…what if she did know and just didn’t care to have anything to do with me? I wanted to at least encourage her to contact me with that news. I don’t think that I ever felt like it wasn’t her. Though it seemed too easy, I just felt like it was right. I was writing my first letter to my sister. My baby sister.
Would she write me back? What did she know? Was she completely in the dark like I was? Was I about to blow her mind?
I eventually signed off. Satisfied that I had sent a letter that would fully explain my side, yet not scare her off. Nothing creepy. Just real.
I had to work the next day, but I could barely sleep that night. When is she going to receive this email? Does she check her email daily? I mean, I check mine religiously about 10 times a day. Did she have my DNA and did she do the same thing?
I woke up the next day after barely sleeping. Immediately signed on and checked my email. Nope. Nothing. Okay, it’s only been about 8 hours since I left it, give her a chance to read it! I sign off and head out to the gym. Work out for a couple of hours and get ready for work. I head into the bar. I was distracted and not really into working. After my shift, I head back to the apartment. Immediately signing on line. Email from a few friends, spam, etc. But, no reply from Marsha. I started getting anxious. And then started thinking really bad thoughts.
"Did something happen to her? Is she still alive? What if something is wrong and I never hear anything?"
Yeah, pretty macabre thoughts. I know. I was getting paranoid that I would never hear from her. I stayed on line all night and fell asleep. Woke up in the morning and still nothing. I started to fear the worst. I would never find her. I know it had only been a day or so, but I was getting scared and nervous. I think I actually prayed for the first time in many years. That Roman Catholic upbringing really sticks with you! I must have said 300 Hail Mary’s and 43 Our Fathers. Seriously, I prayed to whatever being above to deliver unto me, my sister. I made bargains.
"I will stop doing this or that if you get her in touch with me."
Some of the stuff I said, I must have secretly thought I wouldn’t find her, because let me tell ya….
I was bereft with worry as I headed off to work. Still quite distracted. I was asked to go partying with my friends, but wanted to rush home to check the email. I do.
I rush in to the apartment. Sign on. I hear the familiar AOL greeting.
"You’ve got mail."
Okay. Good sign. But, I had mail the previous night and got nothing. Sure enough. Spam, friends, etc.
I scroll down a bit.
I stare at the screen.
There it was. In the subject line of an email.
"Re: in search of…"
And, yes, the FROM line had marsha rolls in the email address.
Oh my God. This is it. This is from her. My sister. Marsha. My baby sister, Marsha! Suddenly, I got sweaty and nervous and wasn’t sure what to do. Well, I guess open the email would be a start. I grab the mouse on my laptop. I click on “read.” And I enter a new world that starts a little something like this.
I recommend stuff on my podcast, COMIC NEWS INSIDER, each week. But, thought I’d start doing that here as well. Because, you know, all of you listen to me and think I’m brilliant. That being said:
Isle of 100,00 Graves by Jason and Fabien Vehlmann. I like pretty much everything by Norwegian cartoonist Jason. His anthropomorphic style manages to capture both the funny and serious side of his story. To my knowledge, this is the first time he has taken on a co-writer. Great tale of a little girl in search of her missing father who only has a reluctant pirate companion and her wits to do so. They stumble upon the island of the title, and comedy and horror ensue! Go get it.
Coke Money by Natasha Legerro. No, she’s not a rapper. She’s a comedian! First saw her on Chelsea Lately and always found her funny. Her new album does not disappoint. Recorded live in Denver, she does her set and manages to get some digs in on the rowdy audience as well. Playing up the “socialite” she pretends to be to humorous effect.
The Adam and Joe show has been around for years on BBC Radio 6 in the UK. They had a podcast of their best stuff from their Saturday show that I listened to weekly. Very funny guys! Alas, the show went on a long hiatus. But, it’s back! As of a few weeks ago, they are filling up our earholes with hilarity. The podcast is available in the U.S. through iTunes or directly from the site. Funny, funny LOL stuff!
Bob’s Burgers animated TV series on FOX. I’m loving this show. Stand out is Kristen Schaal as the young daughter, Louise. And the always awesome voice actor H. Jon Benjamin as Bob rocks it too. Silly fun.
Tina Fey’s new autobio Bossypants. Whoa! I actually read something without pictures? Nope! I got the audio book version as read by Tina herself. It’s really funny and covers some very poignant moments in her life as well. I’d be very interested in hearing her do another autobio 20 years from now. I always recommend audio books (especially autobio ones if they are read by the actual person). You get the inflection from the actual person!
So much more to recommend but I’ll leave you with that. Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think.
I’ve talked about this in the past, but feel I need to do so every now and then. Spoilers suck. And in the age of Twitter/Facebook, it’s harder to avoid them. Quick disclaimer. My personal rule of spoilers is that if something has been out for at least a year, then it’s fair game to talk about. If I get spoiled because I haven’t seen a TV show or film or read something, then it’s my own fault for not getting around to it. I’m mostly talking about people who spoil things almost DIRECTLY after it happens. Or worse, those who “live tweet” during a TV show. If they announce ahead of time they are doing it, that’s one thing. But to just do it…lame.
Forewarning, if you don’t agree with my spoiler rule then don’t keep reading as I may spoil things for you if you’re way behind on a TV series or 2.
I’ve had deaths of characters on a TV show spoiled to me because people are idiots. Not always spoiling to be malicious, but just being stupid. I remember years ago in the 1st or 2nd season of Lost, someone spoiling a death this way. Before I sat down to watch the episode of Lost that I DVRed, I got on my computer and IMed a friend. Their “away” message? “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…..THEY KILLED SHANNON!!!!”
I couldn’t believe it. Also, pre-Twitter/Facebook, I was part of a message board group. Again, at work so had to DVR that night’s episode of Battlestar Galactica. On my way to the train, I check my email which sent me messages from the board. The episode of BSG had JUST aired and literally minutes after it ended, someone wrote, “OH NO! THEY KILLED BILLY!!!”. Fuck me.
And now, people do it on Twitter all of the time. Even with a comedy it bugs me. I LOVE Community. My fave show on TV right now. I’ve had people I know flat out tweet, “That part where Jeff and Britta finally kiss..”. Okay, not a HUGE deal but still ruins the moment for me when it happens. “Oh, look. There’s that part someone talked about.” Thus losing it’s impact.
Worst offenders? People who are part of big fandoms. i.e. Trekkers, Star Wars fans, Browncoats, etc. I consider myself somewhat part of all of those groups as I’m a fan of those films/shows. And they are fiercely loyal fans who try to convert others and get pissed off if you spoil something about a series/movie that they love. Yet, I’m finding they are often some of biggest spoiler types out there. Just perplexing.
Anyway, bottom line is…try not to be a dick about it. People enjoy their stories so don’t quote a line from an episode that AIRED MINUTES AGO, or mention a major plot point, etc. Think about how you feel if you got spoiled. Sure, you’ll live but it sucks for a hot minute. Unless you’re just a dick. Then guess what? We all hate you anyway. :)
The search begins. Where do I start? Well, this was 1996. I didn’t have a computer and had no idea how to do it. I stewed over it for months and finally just sort of gave up. But, it was always in the back of my mind.
Finally, a couple of years later, I finally got a computer of my own. I picked back up on the hunt. I went to genealogy sites. Asking if anyone ever heard of or knew of or could help find a “Marsha Jean Rose.” I never got a reply. I tried “Marsha Jean Rose Aquino” as well. Nothing. This was extremely frustrating. I kept wondering if she even knew or cared and maybe was doing the same thing. Looking for me. Maybe Dad dropped it on her years before. Telling her she had 2 other brothers. But, that didn’t make sense. He knew how to get a hold of us. So, unless she knew and just could care less, then it was probably not the case.
I wallowed around for a few years. Telling my heartbreaking tale to friends and strangers alike. All wishing me well in the search. Yeah, thanks. Anyone work for the CIA or FBI? It seemed like that would be the only way that I could find her. A friend made a joke that I had probably already met her and had relations. I kicked him square in the testicles and ripped out his esophagus with my bare hands. WITH MY BARE HANDS!
Throughout the years, I continued on in life. Bartending and doing shows. In 2000, I was cast in the national tour of a new Broadway musical called Selena Forever. Based on the life of the late Tejano singer, Selena. The tour was abruptly ended a few months after it started. Nice reminder that it’s show business. I jumped back into the bar scene of New York City and decided to take a long hiatus away from acting. I started bartending at this hip lounge in midtown upon my return. Yes, it’s hip because I worked there. One night, this beautiful girl walks in. We locked eyes from the beginning.
Wait. Let me stop your thoughts right there. No, it wasn’t my sister.
This girl was kind of shy, so I talked to her friend. Who was kind of insulting. The girl, Jenna, finally spoke up to defend me. We really hit it off and hung out the next 2 nights. She was in town from Las Vegas. I asked her what she did in Vegas.
"I’m a dancer."
Oh, cool! One of those cheesy Showgirls type variety show dancers! I bet she has some funny stories about it! Oh wait. Not that type of dancer, but THAT type of dancer. Yes, an exotic dancer. Okay, stripper! I know what you’re saying. Of course, I meet the one stripper from Vegas in my bar that night. So, she goes back home and we stay in touch. She had said I reminded her of her husband. Also of Filipino descent. Similar in size. (I assume, from the waist up!) He used to have long hair like me. Now, at the time, I looked like this.
150 lbs. soaking wet. Lean and muscular. I worked out 5-6 days a week. Ate healthy.
She and I had danced at my bar that night, and she thought I was a really good dancer. Hey, I got rhythm. Whaddya want from me? She brought up that her husband had been a dancer as well. The club she worked at had a male revue upstairs where all of the bachelorette parties, female birthdays, crazy old ladies and lonely women went for some shake ‘n bake. She suggested I do it. Now, I had never thought of stripping or anything like that and certainly didn’t see myself doing it. I wasn’t big and beefy like those Chippendale type guys. She said it didn’t matter. Her husband was my size, had long hair and could move. The ladies loved him. She then suggested I move out there to do it.
We kept in touch and chatted on line and on the phone often. I flew out there for a week and stayed with her and really fell in love with the city. I decided. I’m going to move to Las Vegas in May, 2001. I’ll bartend somewhere and hey, why not. Give this stripping thing a try. Coming from a theater background, I imagined costumes and such. One night I would be Zorro. The next, Geronimo! And then maybe a masked superhero! I would grind and move and flip my hair around. Hells yeah!
More likely, I would just move out there and bartend. Still, the idea of a fresh start in a new town was enticing. I figured I’d stay out there for a year and if I really liked it, then I’d stay longer. If not, I’d just come back.
The beginning of 2001 was still not very stable for me. I had always had trouble finding a place to live. As I mentioned before, I was constantly subletting apartments. One of the many reasons that I wanted to move away and start fresh. As May approached, I started getting nervous. What the hell am I doing? Vegas? Really? I mean, Jenna and I had became good friends over the year, but she had a kid and couldn’t really just rely on her to take me around and show me the ropes. I thought of pushing back the move a couple of months.
Then, at the end of April, I get a call from my aunt Tessie. Guess who’s coming to dinner? Yep, that’s right. She was informing me that my dad was coming to the U.S. for the last time to “settle affairs” and what not. If that translated into giving me money, then I was all for it. At the time, I was apartment sitting for a few weeks for a friend. And kind of between jobs. Which means I was unemployed. Doing nothing. Except trying to figure out the whole life thing. I mean, I had just turned 30 a year or so before. What was I doing? I felt like I was missing something. Thus, the proposed trek out to Vegas. Maybe I’d find a great job and Jenna and I would get married by some Elvis impersonator. It could happen.
My dad arrives and I take off for my aunt’s house in New Jersey. I get there and dad is out there. Still the same stoic man as ever. Unaffected by his surroundings. He’s around 70 or so now. Old age had kicked in big time. He kept calling me by my brother’s name, Bobby. Which I fucking hate. He was very hard of hearing as well. Yet, he still found time to dye the shit out of his hair and keep it jet black. And you wonder where I get my ego from. I decided that I was going to drill him about Marsha. Everything he could remember. I wanted to know. It had been some time since last we spoke about it, so I was more aware and calm about it. I could rationally interrogate him. We sat at the same table in my aunt’s dining room that we had when he first broke the news about having a sister. This time, I started in with the talking.
"Okay. I need to find Marsha. I have had no luck over the years. You said her full name is Marsha Jean Rose, born July 2nd, 1976 and last lived in Norfolk, Virginia, right?"
He nodded in agreement. I continued.
"Well, I couldn’t find any Marsha Jean Rose. Is it spelled differently?"
He seemed confused by this question.
"Rose. Her last name. Is it spelled differently? You know, like the flower. A rose! R-O-S-E?!"
Ah. A light bulb turned on. He seemed to know something. His guttural speech finally uttered.
"No, not ROSE. ROLLS."
Which, with his thick accent sounded like this.
"No, not ROSE. ROSE."
Naturally, I was confused.
"That’s what I said. ROSE! LIKE THE FLOWER!"
He tried to explain.
"No. Not the flower. ROLLS."
"That is the flower!"
Suddenly, I realize. Hold on. I might not be understanding him through his accent.
"Wait…spell her last name for me."
He does so.
Are you fucking kidding me? I had the wrong last name for 5 years! Enunciate! Buy a vowel! Conjugate a verb! Find a dangling participle! Learn how to speak! I had left all of these messages all over these family tree and genealogy sites. No wonder no one ever heard of Marsha Jean Rose. Probably because she didn’t exist! And if she did, she certainly wasn’t around to express it! Exasperated by this fucked up foreign version of Who’s on First?, I keep with the questions.
"That is fucked up beyond all belief. THE WRONG LAST NAME?! Okay, fine. Now I have the right one. What else do you remember? Anything?"
He thinks for a moment.
No? No what, asshole? Quite simply and succinctly, he meant that he couldn’t remember anything else. How to get a hold of her mother, Valerie. Their last place of residence. Nothing. (He had mentioned Valerie in the first exchange, 5 years previous.) I finally let it go and decided to take the knowledge I had and find a way to use it. I head back into the city and get to my friend’s apartment where I was staying.
There’s my laptop. I think to myself. “Go ahead. What are you waiting for? It’s 2001. You have the right last name. Someone must have heard of her. Give it a shot. Now’s your chance!”
I boot up the computer and sign on. For some reason, I didn’t think of going straight to Google. I had just joined that Classmates.com site about 6 months before. Seems like it was pretty popular. If you are unfamiliar with that site, then you don’t have a computer. They advertise EVERYWHERE! But, for those that don’t belong. Basically, you sign up for membership and you can find old….uh…classmates! Or friends. Or in this case, family members? And, the way the site works. If you see someone you want to contact, then you send an email in care of that person to the site. The site sends it off to them and it’s up to that person on whether they want to reply. Keeps the stalkers away!
Now, I figured there could be hundreds of Marsha Rolls in the directory. Or at least 10. But, I was willing to write every single one of them if that was the case. I wasn’t sure how popular or common a last name like Rolls was, but I braced for the worst. I sign into the site and click on “search.” I type in:
It took a minute or so for the page to load since I was on dial-up. Yeah, 2001. Try to remember kiddies. Dial-up? No? Well, it’s like the days before cell phones. During this minute plus, so many thoughts raced through my head. Would her name appear? If it did, would there be a lot of them? What would I say? How do I relate to her? What would I….
Page done loading.
I look up and expect to see 50+ Marsha Rolls on the screen.
Marsha Rolls does appear on the screen. Except not 50+. Just one. Graduating from a high school in Norfolk, Virginia in ‘94. Which would make her born around ‘76-‘77.
HOLY SHIT! Can this be her? It seemed way too easy. Well, if you call finding out 5 years before, having the wrong last name, not having a computer, not knowing how to look, wondering, and finally getting there too easy, that is! This has to be her. It’s karma. Kismet. Serendipity. Fate. Meant to be.
You get the idea. As I sat and stared at the screen, I came to the conclusion that I had no clue what to email her. Hours passed as I wrote draft after draft. Should I keep it simple? Something like this?
Hey! It’s Jimmy Aquino. Your brother! Call me.”
Or something really long and involved. Should I stay serious or add some of the funny? And what if this wasn’t her and it was all for naught anyway? I pulled myself together. Gathered my thoughts. And started typing.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not only do I find out I have a sister, but I’ve apparently met her. Unbelievably stunned by yet another revelation from my dad, I gathered myself and tried to get more information out of him. Yes, I was still quite livid. I tried to reason and suppress the anger so I could find out exactly what he was talking about. It wasn’t easy, but I held it in as best I could. Calmly, I reposed myself and asked the obvious question.
"When did I meet her?"
He thinks for a moment. Certainly not to carefully soften any blows, but I think just to find the right words in English.
"Remember when I drove you and Bobby up to Virginia?"
Now, let me go back a bit. My mom and dad got divorced when I was 4. He stayed in Virginia and my mom, brother Bobby and I moved down to Jacksonville, Florida to live with our grandparents. Dad would come down once a year and visit. My mom showed how gracious she could be and would let dad stay with us. He would always call on the birthdays and the holidays. No internet back then, kids! We actually wrote letters to him and he would send us cards and always had money for us. He seemed to sarcastically say to us every time he bought us something, “Are you happy now?”. I remember that because he always said it. Well, gotta say, that’s all he became good for. Money. He didn’t have a lot, but gave when needed or wanted. I certainly couldn’t go to him for anything else. He didn’t understand a lot and there was no way I could relate to him or him to me. I remember being excited that daddy was coming to visit. But, then feeling so let down when he got there. I don’t remember playing with him or talking with him or even just generally hanging out. Go ahead, all of you budding therapists. No father figure in my life, dad never around, etc. Blah, blah.
Anyway, on one of dad’s trips down to Florida, it was decided ahead of time that he would take Bobby and I back up to Virginia. He had a friend with him. A Filipino guy named Carlos. I really wasn’t sure why Carlos was around. He seemed to be my dad’s man servant. Like he was in his employ. Maybe he was. I really don’t know. Carlos was a nice guy, so it was all good. Now, at this time, I was probably around 14, making my brother 17. We drove from Jacksonville to Norfolk, Virginia in about a day. We stayed in Norfolk for a week with dad. Once again, don’t remember much about it except for specific things. I had a friend named Mike who was raised in Virginia, but had moved to Jacksonville in his teen years. We had classes together and then his family moved back to Virginia. So, it was cool to see him up there.
Then, one day, we went over to someone’s house. A lady named Valerie. Memory is fuzzy, but I remember meeting this little girl. Probably about 8 years old. Whatever. Seemed like a nice kid. My dad says to me.
"You should keep in touch with her."
Why? Why would I keep in touch with some little 8 year old that I met for a day in Norfolk, Virginia? I mean, I love little kids and all, but I didn’t want to be a pen pal with a little girl. It just seemed weird. I got a couple of pictures of her,which I’m sure my dad asked her to send. Hey, when you’re a little kid, you just go with the flow a lot.
She sent me 2 school pics. Cute kid. I think she probably wrote a letter too. On the back of one pic was simply the date. On another, it said, “I love Jimmy.” Clearly her handwriting and clearly told to write that. As I said, I barely met her. I’m sure I wrote back once just to be nice, but had no intention of keeping up with the correspondence. And I didn’t.
I never thought of her much, if at all, after that summer. I was in high school and was living the life! I was extremely busy in school. Not just with academics, but after school clubs and stuff. Being President of Student Government kept me busy! My presidency didn’t accomplish much though as it was my senior year and I was partying every weekend!
Graduation comes in 1987 and my dad comes down for one last time before heading back to the Philippines to live for good. He was here for a few days and that was that. I figured I’d write on occasion. But, it wasn’t that big of a deal that he was going for good. I never saw him that much anyway.
A year or 2 later, my college chorale took a trip to New York City. My 2nd time up there. I had been there the summer of ‘86, I believe. Another trip with dad. His sister, my Aunt Tessie, was living in Queens and we all went to stay with her. I met my Filipino cousins from Canada and we had a blast. Saw Cats and did all of the touristy stuff. This trip up, I had a plan. I was going to meet Aunt Tessie and ask her if I could come stay with her in a few years so I could pursue my acting career. We met up and had lunch. She agreed! I was gonna live in New York City!
It wasn’t until the summer of ‘93 that I made the decision to move. I called Aunt Tessie and she said it would be fine. She was living in New Jersey, but insisted that getting into the city was easy by bus or train. So, in January of ‘94, I moved up here. I stayed with Aunt Tessie for about 9 months and then found a place in Queens. The first of many. Let’s just say I could write a book and call it SUBLET KING!
Which brings us up to the current situation. Dad telling me I had already met my sister. As you have no doubt surmised, the little girl in Virginia was Marsha. I had completely disregarded my own sister! Sure, I didn’t know we were related at the time. It didn’t make me feel any better. Now I knew that I had met Marsha. And I wanted to meet her again. Desperately so. Dad had “misplaced” her, so he was no help. All I had to go on was her name, her age and where she last lived.
Marsha Jean Rose. Born July 2nd, 1977. Last living in Norfolk, Virginia.
I was sick to my stomach with rage and consternation. My mind was in a tumult of anger and disbelief. Yet, there was hope. And happiness. I have a sister. A baby sister.
I HAVE A SISTER!
This was life changing. That is, if I could find her. The search began.
While most of you are lamenting about getting your taxes done on time, April 15th will be a special day for my sister’s family and I. On this day last year, after spending 7 months in the NICU, my niece Chloe was able to go home.
For those just joining in, my sister went into labor 4 months too early and popped out my niece. She was 1 1/2 lbs and 11 3/4 inches. That’s not a typo. This is how she looked.
I don’t think she was supposed to make it. It was tenuous for months. She spent 7 months in the NICU and had all sorts of complications. Finally, after many delays, she was able to come home on this day last year. She’s a fighter and has beaten a lot of odds to be in this world. The world better watch out!
How can you say “No” to that face? I know I can’t. Mad love to my baby girl Chloe, her big brother Maximus, my bro-in-law Bob and my amazing sister who is stronger than anyone I know.
Agog, aghast, unbelievably pissed off and confused, I eloquently continued.
"WHAT THE FUCK?"
Here I am. Sitting at the table with my brother, Bobby, and my dad. Who, moments ago, had just introduced me to my little step-brother that he named after me as a “tribute.” How the hell is that a tribute? What? You couldn’t make me a fucking plaque?
So, we’ve established, my dad was not the most original of people. And that’s just the beginning of it. After dropping the bomb on me that I have a sister, I sit in stunned silence for a moment. Not really sure what to say or ask. A multitude of thoughts raced through my head. Where do I start?
Ever since I was a kid, I had wanted a little sister. I grew up with my older brother, Bobby, and it was not your normal sibling rivalry. We hated each other. Constantly fighting and picking on each other. It was rare that any day didn’t end in a fight. Our bedroom doors had holes in them from us trying to punch our way through. We threw cutlery at each other and I remember once landing a dart in his neck. To escape this bickering, I often latched on to female friends of mine and acted like they were sisters. 2 girls I grew up with, Margaret and Rita, were of Filipino descent. Rita was in my class and Margaret was one grade higher. By high school, we had many people in school convinced we were brother and sister. They lived near me and I was often at their house. Something comforting about having a female perspective on things. Instead of the normal fisticuffs that occurred between Bobby and I. Even as I grew older, I often found myself envying close knit families. And, still do to this day. I love my mother dearly, but she had to work her ass off to take care of 2 boys and give us the best she could. That she did. I couldn’t really talk to my mother about stuff. It just seemed weird. My grandparents were around to help raise us. My grandmother was my best friend,but even then I couldn’t relate to her on many kid subjects. We shared smarts and talent, but I never could bring myself to talk to her about the troubles of a teen. I just never felt like I had a close sibling. Because I didn’t. Even if Bobby and I had gotten along better, I still don’t think I would have been able to have any serious talks with him about girl issues and stuff. I could tell Rita all about my crush on Terri or Carol Ann and ask her how I should go about the process of wooing and courting. If I would have talked to my brother, he would have just said something like, “Quit being a baby, you idiot.” Yeah, real loving. While Rita was great and we pretended like she was my sister….well..she just…wasn’t.
As can be imagined, when the sister thing was thrown at me, I was not prepared. I think the first question came out something like this.
"What’s her name? Where is she? How old is she? Is she okay? What’s she look like? What’s…."
Yeah. That first question ended up being a barrage of words that came spewing out of my mouth like a magazine of bullets from an M-16. My dad calmly answers what he can. How he was calm, I was unsure. Once again, most likely the language barrier.
"Her name is Marsha."
See what I mean about originality and the lack thereof? My dad’s name is Marcial. She’s named Marsha. He tells me her birthday is July 2nd, 1976. I find out later that he had the right month and day, but the year was actually 1977. Okay, so she’s about 20. He then says the last time he heard of her was that she was living in Norfolk, Virginia. Which is also where I lived in the beginning of my life. As previously mentioned, my dad was in the U.S. Navy and Norfolk was a major Naval base. I was born in the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia and we lived in Norfolk and Virginia Beach until my mom and dad got divorced when I was 4.
Okay, her name is Marsha. She’s 20. And she possibly lives in Norfolk.
That was about all my mind could process at the time. I really didn’t know where to go from there.
He had been in the Phillipines for years and was heading back right after this little jaunt to the U.S. He said he had tried to find her a couple of years before but lost track of her. Steam and fire creeped out of my pores as I shouted.
"YOU LOST TRACK OF YOUR OWN DAUGHTER?!!!"
I erupted with a cacophony of curse words that would have made a sailor blush. (At a former sailor, no less.) This time, language barrier or no, I think dad got the idea. I was almost shaking. Tears were forming as I shouted.
"Where is she, you son of a bitch?!! How could you lose her? I have to find her! WHERE IS SHE?!!!"
I’m actually surprised I didn’t grab him and shake him. My brother decided to act like the big brother and tried to step in. Not in the reassuring and comforting way. But, in his usual, commanding and condescending tone. Telling me to take it easy and calm down. I glared right through him. I clearly made my point because he immediately backed off. For some reason, through all of this, I hadn’t realized that Bobby wasn’t shocked by any of this. We locked eyes for a brief moment and suddenly I realized. Of course he wasn’t. HE ALREADY KNEW! And apparently had known for years. I gave him another look suggesting that I would deal with him later. My anger was still directed at my dad though. I sat there just seething. Fermenting my rage into a fine, boiling brew.
My dad still just sat there. I suppose he was unsure of what to say. Perhaps part of him regretted waiting so long to tell me. And maybe my reaction frightened him a bit. Good! Be afraid, be very afraid! He slowly forms his mouth to make words. What the hell is he going to say now? I anxiously awaited. Give me something. Let me know how else I might be able to find her. Tell me other people to contact. Where to find more information. SOMETHING!