from the pages of../

Hotel Satire


Lydia Sargent

There are so many things to write about these days. There's the sad story of the gal gymnast who starved herself to death, earning her a full two pages in People, something her gymnastics never did. There's the excitement of Warner's new " not so innocent," skin-matching underdressing called Nudes. There's fascinating Wendy Kaufman, the celeb spokeswoman/star of Snapple sitcoms. Excuse me, Snapple ads. Wendy is a new role model. She sees that ordinary people get their Snapple wishes fulfilled. There's Jackie Kennedy's first essay that won her a Vogue contest, there's Jackie's special gravestone being sent to Arlington Cemetery from a Maine stoneworks, and all the fascinating details of everything to do with her life, her death, her children. There's the new superslim cigarette that's a slimmer way to smoke! There's Lycra evening dresses worn with spike heels as the outfit best suited for playing a pick up soccer game. There's the many stories of Hillary Whitewater Clinton and how slippery she is, cause enough for impeachment.

There's the new influx of gal go go dancers from Russia, turning men on with images of sexy KGB spies, earning a dollar for letting guys peek at "boobs" from Odessa. Can there be anything more thrilling? I doubt it.

There's the death threats against Taslima Nasrin gal for challenging the traditional interpretations of the Koran. What was that gal thinking of? There's the exciting somewhat bizarre "royal wedding" of Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson: are they real people, are they really married, when did it happen, where did it happen, why did it happen, how long will it last if it happened, and how many people actually care whether it happened or didn't happen? What was that Lisa Marie thinking of? There's the O.J. update and all the drama of whether he'll get off in order to join us for the fall football season, when he will send the ratings through the roof, just like Nancy and Tonya did for the Olympics.

We could talk about the "who should raise Maranda" custody case in Michigan. The one where Judge Raymond Cashen ruled in favor of homemaking blood relatives. Are you familiar with this story? According to what I can glean from Time, People, and the New York Times, this gal, Jennifer Ireland, who at 15 seduces (my interpretation not the media's--not yet) fellow classmate Steve Smith. Result. Pregnancy at 15. Steve, sensibly, tells Jennifer that he is going to concentrate on football. They agree she will have an abortion. She, a Catholic, feels she will burn in hell for considering it so she decides to have the baby. Steve avoids her. Jennifer then considers foster care or adoption for her newborn daughter, Maranda. Finally, Jennifer decides to raise the child herself with the help of her mother (a divorced professional nanny). Steve, according to Jennifer, is angry about this and says that he doesn't want Maranda and she shouldn't want her either. He refuses to have anything to do with Maranda or Jennifer. Jennifer, meanwhile, wins an $11,000 scholarship to the University of Michigan, and moves from outside Detroit to Ann Arbor to attend school. Maranda, now three, is put in daycare 35 hours a week so Jennifer can attend classes. Jennifer files for child support, Steve, who has begun to take an interest in Maranda, fights to have support payments reduced from $62 a week to $12 and countersues for custody. His lawyer (a woman) attacks Jennifer during the custody hearing, claiming she is unfit because she dates many different boys, has sexual relations with most of them, goes to parties, hits her daughter and curses in front of her, abuses drugs and alcohol, and is never home with her baby.

Judge Cashen, an unbiased defender of "family values," awards custody of Maranda to her father, Steve, because "There is no way any single parent attending an academic program at an institution as prestigious as the University of Michigan can do justice to their studies and the raising of an infant child." Smith by the way lives with his parents and will be taking a full load of courses this year so Maranda will be cared for by his own mother, homemaker Debbie Smith. The judge felt this was preferable to being supervised part of the time by strangers, by which he mean the licensed daycare center run by a mother of two small children in her home where Maranda was being cared for. Cashen wrote, "the minor child will be raised and supervised by blood relatives.

Two days after winning custody, in what the press described as a legal maneuver (as opposed to Steve Smith's move, which was clearly a concern for the child), Ireland had Smith arraigned on an assault charge against her in 1992. When the issue of domestic violence was raised in court, the judge said the charge was not pertinent. The case is being appealed. Jennifer has dropped out of college.

Smith, for his part, says he has nothing against daycare. "Maranda has a home here with everything she needs. People say she'll learn so much in day care and learn to cooperate. But there are kids in our neighborhood she can play with, and it's not like I can't teach her to past and cut and color and read and all that other stuff. I'll be taking a full load of courses at college, but I'll be there as much as possible. I mean, I'm the father, and I know that I have that responsibility."

And who can doubt it, what with the $12 support payment (which he tried to get reduced again to $6) and the coming home after school and job and football to show Maranda how to cut and paste, which is basically all there is to parenting, as most gals know. You cut, you paste. They grow up. It's beautiful how that happens.

Anyway kudos to Judge Cashen for seeing that any mom who can raise a son like Steve is the person to take care of little Maranda. For seeing that a guy who (a) concentrates on football after having fathered a child at 15; (b) takes no responsibility for the child; (c) plans to attend college full time, while his mom changes the diapers and keeps house and pays the bills, that guy is clearly the parent who should have custody. For seeing that any gal who (a) gets pregnant at 15; (b) takes responsibility for the child, with the help of her mom who is a professional nanny, no less; (c) gets a scholarship to college, well, that gal is not providing a positive role model and should not be in charge of a child.

Because it's not the quality of care and the characters of the parents and their grandparents that is the issue here? It's not whether Steve is a fine person who was seduced or whether Jennifer is a slut. It's about whether gals should be running around loose, i.e., going to college, getting waged jobs, getting divorced, contemplating abortions, being sluts, i.e. dating men rather than taking her place in the proper chain of command: God, Judges, Lawyers, Husbands, Homemakers, in that order and no other. It's true that Steve isn't the traditional nuclear family type father. But he's a guy, he plays football, and there's a homemaker in his vicinity, i.e., a gal that has never run around loose.

The gals here at Hotel Satire are so pleased at Judge Cashen's ruling that we decided to award custody of our children, our grandchildren, the puppies and the kittens to the Judge's own mother or wife, or both. We're sure she's at home right now, waiting for the judge to return and spend a few moments cutting and pasting with the kids before settling down to an evening of TV, or reading, or maybe even taking some extension courses for self improvement. But I digress.

We could talk about all these fascinating topics: about being married to Michael and winning the Vogue essay contest, and having your life threatened. Or losing custody to a football playing, 20-year-old asshole. But these pale in importance compared to what makes being a gal the maximum delight that it is. It's an extra long tapered pad with Maximum absorption (see ad).

I know many of you gals are shocked and concerned that we have succumbed to the current trend toward constant discussion and display of menstrual accessories--even equating them to the essence of galhood. Like me, you're saying, what ever happened to the good old days when nobody talked about, you know, the curse? What happened to the good old days when gals went to bed for a week or went and sat in a hole somewhere until "it" was over?

The first time I heard about "it" was in the eighth grade. A friend came up to me in the locker room and said she'd fallen off the roof. I said are you all right? She said no, George came. I said who? She said, you know I've got my friend. I said huh? Finally she told me she had the curse. I said the what? She said it's that time of the month. I said so? She said, impatiently, I've got my period, you nit.

Those were the days. We knew nothing, we spoke in code. We left such matters to white male doctors in consultation with our parents (mom acting on behalf of dad, who was in charge of all matters related to his offspring, including oversight of gals' reproductive processes, otherwise referred to as "virginity."). Who better to deal with the mysteries of a gals reproductive processes than male medical personnel who, when you arrive in their office with a clear case of walking pneumonia, ask "when was your last period?" Or gynos (male for gynecologist) who shove and probe your vaginal area, then say one of two things: "You need an operation" or "You need drugs." Actually, those good old days are still with us on some fronts--I have four prescriptions for estrogen, testosterone, and a few other things from my last gyno visit. One causes cancer and the recurrence of "the period." The other prevents the cancer that the first one might cause. The other two are just because I'm a gal. As the gyno said, "You'd treat a strep throat, right?" I say, why not eliminate the intermediary and go directly to a Pharmaceutical Fair where drugs that interfere with hormones and chromosomes are dispensed to gals cut rate? But I digress.

Remember how embarrassing the menstrual accessories were? Huge boxes of Kotex and the attendant sanitary belt, kept out of sight so no one would know it was "that time of the month," as in: (a) you're temporarily insane; (b) you're unattractive and unavailable. Nowadays, tampons and pads are not only in your body, they're in your face and up the whazoo. Recently, I was watching one of my favorite TV gal-oriented sport shows, the National Video Dance Championships. These teams of gals in Lycra and Spandex came prancing out to do five minutes of very strenuous activity. Behind them, on a huge billboard, was an ad for Stayfree Maxipads. All I could think about, while these gals were spreading and bending and kicking, was whether it was their "time of the month." And if so, whether their Stayfree pads were gonna work loose and come flying out into the audience on the four count. Or whether we'd see some staining of the Lycra on one of those high kicks. (Cause you know, Gals, none of those pads/pons work. You can shove five of them in there, along with a sponge, and a pad the size of a diaper, but that red stuff--blood to today's gals--still bypasses all of them like the Baltimore Beltway. But I digress.)

I know you're asking, as I did, what next in these our bodies, our smells and the personal is a tampon modern times? Why don't these gals just come out waving the darn things as pompoms? Or pin them right on the Lycra, like brooches. Or tie them in the laces of their Nikes? Or as bows in the hair?

But I changed my whole point of view when Kira, one of the gals here, showed me a full page ad for the New Freedom Maximums--extra long pads tapered to feel thinner and fit better, with center protection to help direct fluid and trap it. It seemed to have been written by a kindred spirit, what with the gal reference, the equating of freedom with a super maxi rather than anything substantive, and the descriptions of inane gal snack-consuming behavior. Plus they refer to "it" as "that time of the month," just like in the old days.

I can tell you that ad made me realize how swell it is to be gal, with one hand in a bowl of sugary sweets and the other in a bowl of salty snacks. I realized what is a gal if not her menstrual accessories? Not to mention hormonal "yodeling."

Now, I am so in love with constant, front page, very very public discussing/selling of "that time of the month" pads and pons--the maxis, the minis, the slims, the ultras, the heavy duty's, the supers, the purse size, the tapereds--that I've started a whole line of pad/pon products. I've got pads and pons that can be worn as jewelry, hats, scarves, anklets, nose/ear rings. I pushing them at all gal sporting events--the National Cheerleading Contest, the National Aerobics Dance Contest, the Ladies Golf Tour. I now feel there are two products that should be very visible at all gal sporting events: tampons and cigarettes (preferably slims). I'm also sending sample menstrual accessories to Jennifer and Lisa Marie and Wendy and Taslima and Steve's mom and Judge Cashen's little woman, because no matter what we do or who we are, we all need maximum protection.

And, Gals, when it comes to freedom, skip the college courses, the striving for a better life. A long tapered, maximum absorption pad is as good as it gets until it's gone.