Main | Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Two Apples

Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar winner, and her husband, whats-his-name from Coldplay, named their new baby girl 'Apple'. Which is just FINE.

I think unusual baby names are great. Only a few months ago, I was trying to convince my sister to name her new son 'Supernature.'

'Supernature? Supernature? What kind of name is that?' she questioned flatly.

She's used to me having unorthodox opinions, obviously.

'Well, "Supernature" was this REALLY cool disco song by this French guy named Cerrone. It came out in the late '70s and it's all spooky and scary and it was a huge hit all over the world and it's one of my favorite songs EVER!'

'Well, I never heard of it. What's the song about?'

'Oh, it's about... experimenting on animals and the animals grow up to be partially human and they rampage through the countryside taking out their revenge for being deformed on the real humans.'

'And this is a DISCO song?'

'Yes.'

'And you want me to name YOUR nephew after it?'

'It's a REALLY cool song. AND the album cover is VERY cool, totally an 'Island Of Doctor Moreau' thing going on.'

My sister considered it, for a minute.

'No, not gonna happen, sorry'.

'Oh, c'mon! Why not? Don't be BORING! How cool would it be to have 'SUPER' in your name?'

'First of all, the other kids would call him 'Stupidnature'.

And dammit, she was right. Children are horrible to each other. I can still recall my own tormenting of the unfortunate Harry Enis, back in middle school.

Gywneth isn't being all that innovative, by the way. I'd already known a girl named Apple, from way back in my college days.

OK, maybe Apple wasn't a girl, but he dressed like one.

Apple Love was one the regular cast of female impersonators that performed nightly at the Parliament House, the notorious Orlando gay nightclub complex. Apple was perhaps the most popular drag queen in the ensemble. During her performances the customers lined up ten deep down the center aisle, dollar bills in their outstretched hands, waiting in line to tip her.

Cynic that I was, I always suspected that a huge portion of Apple's popularity was from the pity factor. You see, Apple had had polio as a child, and yet even with iron braces on both legs, she'd don stiletto heels and mini-skirts, and gamely work the stage, vigorously swiveling her hips to swing her almost-useless legs around and move forward.

Sometimes, if I'd had a bit too much to drink, I'd mock Apple Love in front of my friends, pretending to have braces on my legs, and furiously strut a mock runway.

'C'mon, let's walk like Apple Love!'

'Joe, that's HORRI....oh, hee hee....you better stop!'

My friends would break up, but they'd look around to make sure no one saw them laughing.

I'd all but forgotten about Apple Love until about five years ago.

I was standing near the edge of the dance floor at Club 1015 in San Francisco. The place was mobbed. The DJ had been playing a long string of forgettable techno songs. Abruptly, he allowed a dramatic pause between records, alerting the room that whatever was coming next, he thought it was pretty special.

As the unmistakable sound of Cher's voice filled the room, the crowd erupted in recognition. Cher hadn't had a hit in the clubs in many years. The song was irresistably catchy, and by the second verse at least half of the room was singing along.

And THIS is what I heard Cher singing, that first time, and what I continue to hear to this day: 'Do you believe in life, Apple Love?'

Maybe one day, on a plane or somewhere she can't get away from me, I'll be able to tell that story to Gywneth, and then she could sing the Cher song to her Apple, using MY lyrics. I won't mention polio.

Probably.


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