My One Degree of Separation from Stephen Sondheim

David Holliday

When I was a wee twink, I was in a production of “Camelot” starring Broadway veteran David Holliday as King Arthur. Every night, 8 shows a week for two months, I got to wear tights on stage as a paige to King Arthur, and best of all, at the climax of the show, I had the great honor of bringing King Arthur his famed sword Excalibur.

Now it might have been how great my 18 year old behind looked in those tights, or maybe not, but one night David asked me to dinner at his place. Like most actors, he was eager to share his Broadway bona fides.

His most famous role was probably opposite Katharine Hepburn in the Lerner and Lowe musical “Coco”, followed by “Sail Away” with Elaine Stritch. (You can hear his lovely voice on those cast albums.) He was also in Man of La Mancha on Broadway, and he played the King in a TV movie of “Sleeping Beauty” starring Morgan Fairchild (he played a lot of Kings). And he was the voice of Virgil Tracy in the first season of the cult British show “Thunderbirds”!

David’s Virgil Tracy from “Thunderbirds

But David got his start with Stephen Sondheim, who cast him as a Jet in the original production of “West Side Story” and as the understudy for Tony. Later on, he got to play Tony in the London production of WSS with Chita Rivera and again for the 1966 London revival.

He was a pal of Elaine Stritch and David loved the story of how one day, out of the blue, Judy Garland called him up to invite him to a birthday party she was throwing for Stritch. He was also besties with Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise.

He would send me Christmas cards every year for awhile (those tights were magic). But sadly he died in 1999 from cancer.

As Don Quixote

Anyway, here’s the cast album of West Side Story with David Holliday as Tony. He starts singing “Something’s Coming’” at the 4:08 mark.

David Holliday from “Coco”
A video tribute for David Holliday with his gorgeous voice singing “Dommage Dommage”

Continue reading

Wasted Away In Lake Geneva-ville

This pic is from a camping trip to Lake Geneva I took with my friends Tom, Giovanni and Jonathan. Unknowingly, our trip coincided with a Jimmy Buffett concert nearby and just our luck, our camp site neighbors were “parrot heads”.

We did not know this embarrassing fact about our neighbors until they loudly returned from the concert around 2am.

While I’m a very sound sleeper, my tent mate Tom was awakened by their loud, drunken campfire antics. I might have even slept through all their obnoxious laughing and yelling, were it not for Tom yelling every 5 minutes:

“Shut up!”

“We’re trying to sleep!”

Their parrot party went on past 5am, despite frequent warnings from the camp ground security guard. They would quiet down for a few minutes after getting a warning, only to start back up again when the coast was clear.

They finally passed out around 5am and the campground was at last quiet and we were able get some sleep

When we woke up around 10am, our noisy neighbors were loudly snoring in their crowded tent, their site littered with crushed beer cans and their campfire still smoking.

So we started packing up our gear to go home.

Loudly.

Each time we closed the car trunk or car door, it was with a bang; and I also kept “forgetting” to turn off my car alarm, so that every time we opened the trunk the alarm went off blaring.

Then I couldn’t find a lost shaker of salt, which required us to unpack and then repack the car, setting off the car alarm a few more times.

On our way out, with the car fully packed, we wanted to say good bye to our neighbors. So we paused the car in front of their tent and blew our horn until someone poked their head out.

“Goodbye!” we shouted painfully in unison to the bleary eyed, hung over Buffett bores.

My fear that our revenge scheme might have also annoyed the other campers was dispelled when we received a standing ovation from the other campsites as we rolled out of the campground.

Now I’m hungry for a cheeseburger. Hold the paradise.

Praising Pelosi

There’s a media drum beat against Nancy Pelosi, one of the most effective parliamentarians to ever hold the Speaker’s gavel. Don’t fall for it.

The reasoning goes that because the GOP use her as the boogeyman in campaign attack ads, Dems should dump her.

The truth is the Republicans would vilify anyone in that leadership role. They love to use Pelosi to stir up their base because she is a woman representing San Francisco, so there is a lot of underlying homophobia in their demonization of her.

The media obliges the GOP in this endeavor by asking every Democratic House candidate if they support her as House leader. But they never ask Republicans about Mitch McConnell, who polls 5% lower than Pelosi. That’s sexism. And how come we don’t see the media asking every Republican candidate how they are “wrestling” with their vote for Jim Jordan for House Speaker?

The Bernie left hate Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, because she supported Hillary. Well guess what, Pelosi not only got the Affordable Care Act and Dodd Frank passed, she also managed to pass the public option to the ACA that the same Berners accuse Dems of not supporting – though it passed the House and got the vote of every Senate Democrat, but failed in the Senate when newly Independent Senator Joe Lieberman blocked it. The Bernie folk would be very lucky to have her around to pass their proposed single payer bill if we retake congress. She has the track record of passing complicated bills. The Senate is where progress goes to die, not the House under Democratic control.

The best part of this is Pelosi has given her approval for red state Dems to say they oppose her, because she understands winning those seats is more important than her ego or career.

I can’t think of a male politician who would be as pragmatic a team player as Pelosi.

Voter ID Laws: The Latest Poll Tax

No, you do not need an ID to buy groceries – for the moment anyway. But some states require you to produce a specific ID card for you to exercise your constitutional right to vote.

One of my former hobbies was registering people to vote. I’d do it at street festivals or events and I’d even bring my stuff to parties. It was cool to register first time voters.

So, I have an opinion on voter ID laws, which are just an attempt to suppress minority votes and votes of other economically vulnerable people, who may move often and can’t afford $20 for a government ID each time they relocate. The discriminatory intent of these ID laws is plain to see when you notice they usually allow NRA membership cards but not college IDs to vote.

A person establishes their eligibility to vote when they register to vote, not when they attempt to participate. To register to vote, you have to establish your identity and address. Just like a state ID card, you do this by providing a postmarked utility bill or some other official correspondence received at your current address along with a birth certificate or some type of a photo ID.

You attest to your eligibility to vote when you register and swear under penalty of perjury that the info you provided is correct. When you go to vote, a copy of your registration is there that contains your signature. If a person’s address and signature match, that person should be allowed to vote. Voter ID laws are a thinly disguised attempt to suppress minority voting.

Here are Illinois requirements to register to vote.

Buzzing for Jesus

So, this afternoon some kindly, well dressed Christian lady with her equally well dressed two young daughters just randomly buzzed my buzzer hoping to talk to me about Jesus. I was expecting a UPS delivery, not deliverance.

She was already on thin ice when she greeted me with “I’m so sorry, I see I got you up from a nap.”

Instead of replying,” No bitch, I always look tired and disheveled, thank you very much,” I was gracious.

Refusing her religious pamphlet, I politely informed her I was comfortable with my decision to burn in hell; and unless she had a package from Amazon, she should please move on to her next address.

She then asked me which buzzer was mine, as she was planning on ringing the next apartment in my 7 unit building. “Maybe they want to hear the Good News I bring.”

“Look,” I said, getting a bit annoyed, “I know my neighbors, and they’re also comfortable burning in hell. We’ve made a pact.”

As they left the lobby, I complimented her two young girls, both adorably dressed in their church best.

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Barbies


5FE74B32-16B0-4EFE-BEA5-7930887F4C02

One night, back in college sometime in the late 1980’s, a buddy and I were hanging out at my apartment with a camcorder, and some beer, along with construction paper and a few dollar store Barbie knock offs; and we decided to make a movie we called “Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Barbies“. (We were both huge Russ Meyers fans.)

The plot centered around Varla, a deranged, stiff armed, dollar store Barbie who – out of bitter jealousy over her lack of bendable arms and legs, plots revenge on the real Barbie who can bend and pose anyway she pleases.

A sub plot involved a kinky Ken and his dominatrix interior decorator named Barb Wire. Yup, we beat the comic book “Barb  Wire” by 6 years!

Enjoy!

 

music credit: “The Rich Man’s Frug”

I wish I could credit my friend, who  painted Barb Wire using White-out and magic marker and supplied her voice. I came up with the idea of shoving a coat hanger up her ass to give her some movement. Also, note the funny visual of Barbie on the phone, while literally being on a phone

04175982-AD48-4118-B3A1-F347D6DFA2CF

85C317FB-1E2B-4014-88DF-71F08A5EE311

Introducing Barb Wire

My Coming Out Diary

coming-out-title

It’s been several years since I’ve “come out”. After telling my immediate family and close friends, and experiencing the liberating feeling attached therein, I  made it my mission to come out whenever possible to whomever possible. This is an excerpt from My Coming Out Diary.

 

Monday, February 5

I came out to the cable installer today. He was quite surprised at first – a reaction I’ve come to expect after coming out to the Sprint operator earlier today. Despite my hopes for furthering understanding, the cable guy ignored me, saying, “I’m just here to install your cable.”

I could tell by his avoidance that he was in deep denial and desperate to hide from the shocking truth that one of his cable subscribers is a homosexual!  I followed him about as he hooked up the lines, relating how horribly misunderstood gay people are and how tough it was for me to reveal such personal information to strangers, but also how important it was for me to be honest and open in all my dealings. His discomfort with my truth must have overcame him for in his haste to leave, he accidentally hooked me up with free HBO, Showtime and the Spice Channel. I sure hope HBO reruns that Streisand concert!

Wednesday, February 7

It was Margarita night and I had quite a few of them. So many, I found myself “coming out” to the bartender, before remembering I was in a gay bar. The bartender cut me off.  On my way home, I came out to my cab driver. He was very understanding, and then he told me his own personal tale, some of which I actually listened to. Evidently, his native country’s culture demands absolute purity from their women, and thus the men find it difficult to release their sexual energy. At some point, he pulled the cab over and asked me for a blowjob. Afterward, he drove me home and do you know, he had the guts to charge me full fare? Of course I didn’t tip him.  You know, some cab drivers really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Thursday, February 8

Home alone – again. Feeling bored. Nothing on TV. Just a bunch of jiggling breasts on the Spice Channel.  What is it with soft porn? They give you every conceivable view of a woman, frontal, back-al, you name it. It’s a complete breast fest, but you barely get to see even a guy’s ass. This is wrong and another example of the unfair treatment for LGBT. I’d call and complain, but I’m getting the channel for free.

Thank God the doorbell rang! l was greeted by rug rats selling Girl Scout cookies. I politely explained to the green skirted children that I reserve my charity contributions for gay related causes only, but as they were walking away I spied a box of Thin Mints, so I relented.

Friday, February 9

I met someone! He’s a cashier at Burger King. Granted, it’s not a profession I  imagined my future husband to be involved in, but he’s in college. Our meeting was tender and memorable. l had just ordered my Whopper, careful to specify no onion (you never know who you’re going to meet). When he saw my Pink triangle lapel pin he asked me about it and I explained that the pink triangle was a symbol of homosexual oppression in Nazi Germany and that in recent times had been adopted as a gay rights symbol, adding that not much has changed and homosexuals are still being oppressed.  He looked at me quizzically and responded, “I just wanted to know where you got it –  mine just broke.”
Well l almost fainted. I heard strains of “Some Enchanted Evening” and thought l was dreaming until l realized it was just the Muzak. Well, to make a long story short, we agreed to meet tomorrow. Oh,  and he threw in an order of free chicken fingers!  I never noticed before, but those burgundy polyester uniforms look kind of hot. I hope he doesn’t wear it on our date.

Monday, February 12

Chip and I had our first date. It wasn’t as romantic as I’d hoped, but we’re both between paychecks so we dined at Taco Bell. Chip spent a good part of the dining experience commenting how much nicer the uniforms at Taco Bell were and how he wished his Burger King had free drink refills so he wouldn’t have to deal with it.  I got really bored by this. Then he let it slip – the deal breaker. He wasn’t “out” to his mom and dad!

As someone who “came out” just last week, this infuriated me. I told him off right there and then about the importance of coming out to your family and how if everyone came out we wouldn’t have the discrimination we encounter today. He then lets it spill that he’s an orphan – just my luck! I said that was no excuse and he stormed out.

Tuesday, February 13

Went to pick up my clothes at the cleaners. I just got my “Gay Dollar” stamp and stamped all my currency with it at breakfast.  The woman who owns the cleaners was there and I handed her my ticket. She’s usually a nice little old Asian woman, but she didn’t seem so nice after I carefully counted out fifteen dollars all stamped with my pink and glittery “Gay Dollar” stamp, which I had to count out twice because she didn’t see my political statement at first. “Notice anything?”

Her eyes widened in fright, pushing my cash away, “You defaced money – that’s a crime!”

“No it isn’t” I insisted, now wondering if it was.

But she didn’t want to be part of a crime, so I had to find a cash machine to pay for my dry cleaning. Note to self: try the Gay Dollar trick on someone who isn’t holding $500 in dress shirts hostage.

Today

After cross checking on my computer the names of people I know against the people I’ve “come out” to, I’ve come to realize that there is no one left. Short of waiting for some employee turnover at Burger King, for the near future everyone I know knows.

Briefly this though left me in a fit of despair until I spied the telephone book. Then it struck me – there’s a whole lot of people out there I don’t know! My God, there’s billions of Chinese alone who I don’t know and who don’t know that I’m gay! So, I picked up the phone and started dialing the A’s.

Hello world, I’m coming out!

 

20161011_140249

gab-my-coming-out-diary-020796-006

gab-my-coming-out-diary-020796-007

gab-my-coming-out-diary-020796-008

20161011_140204

Don the Con: The Cheapest, Sleaziest Bastard Alive

How’s this for a grift:

You start a tax exempt “foundation” in your name using other people’s money. Then you go around donating that very same money as if it came from your own pocket! You get the glory and the headlines, but you still have those extra millions in your pocket to buy back your repossessed yacht.

Donald Trump brags about donating money to charity – but it’s never his own money. As Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has uncovered, Trump gets other people to donate millions to his tax exempt Trump Foundation, which he then loudly donates to other charities in his name, and then accepts all the acclamation, press releases and “thank you” plaques that comes with big ticket philanthropy.

If that isn’t a perfect enough con, throw in Trump using his phony charity to buy himself expensive gifts, like $12,000 in luxury sports memorabilia or blowing $20,000 of his charity’s money on a grandiose 6 foot tall oil painting of himself to decorate his golf course.

image(Trump’s charitable gift to himself -with altered hands!)

The Trump Foundation paid $20k for this vainglorious painting, but it could have gotten it for $5 bucks, as Melania Trump opened the bidding at $10k, and when there was no counter bid, she upped her own winning bid to $20k.

Can you imagine if the Clinton’s bought a 6 foot oil painting of themselves with their foundation money?

Trump also used his tax exempt foundation to buy Tim Tebow’s game worn helmet and jersey for $12k at a public charity auction in 2007. Trump got the applause and the merchandise, but his charity got the shaft.  The last anyone saw Tebow’s jersey, it was decorating Trump’s business offices, which means he used charity money to enrich himself. It has since disappeared from public view like Tim Tebow’s career. No one even knows where it went. Like Tim Tebow’s career.

image

Donald Trump  has a long history of enriching himself at other’s expense; from cheating poor contractors to squeezing well meaning social elites to donate to his lousy charity. He also brags about extravagant gifts he never even gave. One journalist has recently estimated Trump has lied to the IRS about giving to over three-hundred different tax deductible charities.

In the case of buying himself gifts with tax exempt charity funds, it is We the Taxpayers who helped Prince Donny acquire his $20k narcissistic oil painting of himself and his $12k in now worthless sports memorabilia.

Then there is his opportunistic and illegal “donation” to Florida AG Pam Bondi’s re-election, who then conveniently dropped her investigation of his Trump University scam just days after cashing her $25,000 Trump Foundation check.

Get this: Bondi actually called Trump directly to ask for the cash the day after she announced her investigation of him!

Yet there was media crickets about all this. The most damning evidence of Trumps sleazy operation is documented! Trump used $25,000 from his charitable foundation to bribe the Attorney General of Florida. Trump is so cheap he steals from charities to bribe public officials!

I wonder how many 9/11 widows Trump could have helped with the money he blew on himself?

Everyone thinks you’re a swell guy when you give money away – except none of the money was EVER  his.

Donald Trump is a fraud. Let’s compare:

The Clinton Foundation provides AIDS drugs to 11 million people.

The Trump Foundation bribes public officials and buys Don the Con expensive tax free gifts.

The Clinton’s have donated $14 million dollars of their own money to their charity.

Don the Con hasn’t contributed a dime to his since 2008.

Vote Hillary Clinton – America’s future depends on stopping this bigoted maniac.

The Mystery at Camp Sister Lick

20160811_092846.png

Nanci Dwuu’s convertible darted down the country road headed for mystery. Exactly what the mystery entailed, Nanci’s friend George wouldn’t divulge over the telephone. George, a tomboyish girl with short dark hair, was one of Nanci’s closest friends, but the girls hadn’t seen each other since George had moved to Camp Sister Lick, a women’s only retreat where, according to George, “Strange things had been occurring”.

“Please say you’ll come,” George pleaded, “the owner is a real darling and she needs your help.”

Although Nanci was intrigued by George’s mystery, she was hesitant to leave Hannah Gruel, the Dwuu’s longtime housekeeper. Hannah had lived with the Dwuus since Nanci’s mother suddenly passed away when Nanci was three.

Nanci had always been suspicious of her mother’s death, and in her last adventure, The Case of the Murdered Mom, Nanci discovered that her own father had poisoned Mrs. Dwuu in an insurance scam – resulting in Mr. Dwuu’s new residence on Death Row, all thanks to his daughter’s expert sleuthing.

“Oh, and don’t bring that asshole Nick, men aren’t allowed here.” George added before hanging up.

Nanci couldn’t have brought her longtime boyfriend Nick Nederson anyway. Nick was with his buddies the Hardly Boys on a fishing trip, staying at the popular sportsmen’s resort The Rainbow Lodge. According to Nick, the lodge didn’t have phones, although judging from the evening clothes Nanci helped him pack, the lodge had a disco.

image

Camp Sister Lick was located in neighboring River Side. The property was formerly an old cattle ranch newly converted into a retreat facility for women. The camp’s unusual name paid homage to the new owner’s mission of promoting sisterhood and to the property’s natural salt deposits used by ranchers as “salt-licks” for livestock.

As Nanci’s convertible approached Camp Sister Lick’s entrance, she was greeted by a bevy of angry protestors waving vulgar signs demanding the camps immediate closure on moral grounds!

“How could a women’s only camp be immoral?” Nanci thought. “Maybe they offer Yoga.”

Nanci hit the accelerator on her Mustang, causing a few protestors to scramble as she glided easily into a spot in a parking lot filled exclusively with trucks. Looking around,  Nanci felt confident that she’d  have no trouble locating her car for her return trip home.

As Nanci followed the signs directing her to the main lodge, her old friend George suddenly emerged from a path leading from the woods “Nanci Dwuu, you made it!”

George hadn’t changed much since the last time the two girls were together. She still sported her short, chopped hair, and was dressed in her trademarked unbuttoned blue flannel shirt layered over a black T-shirt tucked into her denim shorts, with a pair of beaten, black leather boots framing her pale, unshaven legs.

“So, what’s the big mystery?” Nanci asked.

“First I want you to meet the proprietor of Camp Sister Lick, I just know you’ll love her, she’s so keen!” George pulled Nanci into the lodge’s office. Behind a desk sat a woman who appeared in her late fifties, stout like a bulldog, with graying hair whipped up into a beehive.

Nanci offered her slim, well manicured hand to the woman who took hold with a firm grip, shaking Nanci’s hand as much as Nanci. “I’m Virginia Diesel, the owner of this retreat, and you must be the famous Nanci Dwuu.”

“George hasn’t filled me in yet, what’s going on?” Nanci asked.

Virginia’s voice hushed to practically a whisper, “Someone is trying to destroy Camp Sister Lick.”

image

“Who would want to do that?” Nanci asked, incredulous.

“Our retreat has had some local opposition,” Virginia explained, “Maybe you saw the protestors.”

“The attacks started two weeks ago when someone stuffed tampons in all eighteen holes of our golf course. When the sprinklers came on, it looked like a field of white mushrooms sprouting out of our cups. We had to cancel the golf tournament.”

“At first we thought it was a prank, but then something else happened.”

“What?” Nanci asked, her pulse beginning to race, “what happened?”

George took over for the distraught Virginia. “Last week was the championship game of our darts competition. Everyone was just terrible. No one could get a dart on the board. The dart would sail flawlessly through the air, perfect arc, expert aim, but the dart would strike the board and fall to the floor. It was eerie.”

“Let’s have a look at those darts, maybe they’ll shed some light on this mystery.” Nanci said.

“I hope so,” Virginia cried, “if this keeps up, Camp Sister Lick will be run out of business.”

George led Nanci on a short walk to a rustic building with a plaque that read “Gertrude Stein Field House”. George opened the screen door with a rusty creak. A ping-pong and pool table indicated to Nanci’s keen intuition that this must be some sort of building where ping-pong and pool tables were kept.

Nanci walked across the room to inspect the dart board hanging from a rusty nail while George produced the darts. “I think I have the answer to your mystery,” Nanci proclaimed, holding the darts up to the light, “These are Velcro darts and you have a cork dart board. Someone must have switched them.”

“But, but, Nanci,” George stammered, “we don’t use Velcro dart boards at Camp Sister Lick!”

Just then, from outside came a piercing scream. Nanci and George ran from the field house. Emerging from the woods was a petite brunette woman with bright red lips, her flower-patterned culottes stained with mud.

image“Ahhhhhh!” she screamed.

“What happened?” Nanci asked.

“Men – in the woods” the young pretty lady gasped falling to the ground, holding her hand out to Nanci before fainting, “My name is Lizzie Lipshtick, and you must be Nanci Dwuu.”

As the two sleuths propped up the fallen girl, George filled in  Nanci. “Lizzie runs the art classes at Camp Sister Lick. Her classes aren’t well attended because they can’t compete with sports and Lizzie has never felt quite accepted. And now this!”

A crowd started to gather as Nanci took Lizzie’s pulse.

“That’s it! I’m leaving,” one guest proclaimed angrily, “This place is dangerous!”

image

“I’m ruined,” Virginia later proclaimed to Nanci and George in the privacy of her office, “What was I thinking, trying to establish a little utopia for my sisters, an Eden without Epiladys. A place to celebrate our womanhood surrounded by the warm embrace of our Earth Mother.”

George was on the verge of tears, hugging Virginia, “Don’t you dare give up! Nanci Dwuu will solve this case!”

“Where do those woods go?” Nanci asked, determined to solve this mystery. George explained that the woods bordered the Tuscashawnee River, which was popular with fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. On occasion, boaters would pull their canoes over on Camp Sister Lick property, although there were “No Trespassing ” signs posted along the river bank.

“Whoever frightened poor Lizzie is probably still out there,” George surmised, anxious to confront the trespassers, but the approaching darkness made Virginia fearful for the girls’ safety and she insisted they wait until morning to search the woods.

Reluctantly, Nanci agreed. Back at her cabin, Nanci was finally able to rest after a long day of driving and sleuthing.

Drifting into a fitful sleep, Nanci was suddenly awakened by the sound of shattering glass. Bolting from her bed, a brick lay at Nanci’s feet with a white slip of paper secured around it. Untying the paper, Nanci detected a flowery smell before she gasped at the note’s content.

“You’re in grave danger Nanci Dwuu.” The letter was scrawled in what looked like red crayon. The note ended, “P.S. I think you’re cute!”

“Hmmm,” Nanci thought to herself. ” I didn’t think men were allowed anywhere near Camp Sister Lick.”

image

The next morning, George and Nanci set out to explore the woods. Lizzie came along to point out where she saw the trespassers the night before.

Seeing Lizzie dressed in shorts and a thin T-shirt, Nanci lectured her on the dangers of deer ticks.

Lizzie laughed, “I’m so tired of flannel. Am I a traitor because I like frills and lipstick?”

“Not at all,” Nanci laughed along, “I like frilly things too!”

“We have so much in common! Lizzie proclaimed, grabbing Nanci’s hand, the two skipped along the dirt path through the woods. Nanci felt protective of Lizzie after seeing the poor girl so frightened the day before.

“I have a hunch were going to be good friends!” Nanci said, giving Lizzie’s hand an affectionate squeeze.

The forest was bristling with birds and busy squirrels looking for nuts. Suddenly, Nanci signaled the girls to be silent. Out of the peaceful chatter of the woods came the sound of male voices!

“Walk quietly, we’ll sneak up on whoever is out there,” Nanci instructed.

The girls hadn’t taken more than a few steps when from the dense bushes someone called out “Nanci Dwuu!” Looking past greenery, a smile of recognition mixed with relief swept over Nanci’s face. It was Nick Nederson, Nanci’s long time boyfriend.

“Nick! What are you doing here? I thought you went fishing with the Hardly boys?”

“We did, we lost our canoe.” Nick then called to his companions and from the trees emerged Nanci’s sometime sleuthing partners The Hardly Boys.

When George came running into view, Nick’s smile turned sallow, “Hey.”

“Screw you, Nick and your fascist paternalistic society.” George said warmly.

The two old friend’s friendly quarrel was soon interrupted by Nanci inquiring how the boys found themselves at Camp Sister Lick. Nick explained that he and the Hardly Boys were out pole fishing the previous evening when their canoe was inadvertently swept down stream, stranding them in the woods, where they stripped naked to keep each other warm.

“You gave Lizzie the fright of her life when she spotted you in the woods yesterday,” Nanci chuckled.

“Yesterday? It was well after dark when we lost our canoe.” Joe Hardly chimed in,

“We could barely see our poles.” Frank snickered and struck his brother’s arm.

Then someone else must have been in the woods, but who? Nanci thought to herself, not wanting to raise an alarm.

The girls hated to bid Nick and the Hardly Boys farewell, but men weren’t allowed at Camp Sister Lick. As it turned out, women weren’t allowed at the Rainbow Lodge, either.

“That’s too bad,” Nanci teased, “There’s nothing like a soprano voice for those great old campfire songs!”

“Nick sings soprano just fine,” Joe Hardly declared, before his twin brother giggled and punched his arm back.

image

Back at camp, the three girls, hot and sweaty from their long hike, hit the showers and changed into fresh clothes before lunch. Afterward, Virginia called Nanci and George into her office. The brick that was thrown through Nanci’s window the night before sat on her desk.

“I’ve made a decision.” Virginia said to the girls, “I never thought our opponents would resort to violence, but I can’t have bricks being thrown through my girl’s windows. I’m closing down Camp Sister Lick.”

“What!” George cried, “You can’t let these terrorists win!”

“I think it’s an inside job,” Nanci said matter of factly.

George gave Nanci a worried look. Ever since Nanci helped convict her father for the murder of her mother, Nanci hadn’t been her usual self. Her sleuthing skills had suffered and she was prone to grandiose pronouncements about minor  inconveniences, like when she solved The Mystery of the Missing Car Keys or The Secret of the Stained Carpet.

“Are you sure someone from the Camp is doing these horrific things, Nanci? Why?”

“I don’t know yet,” answered Nanci, “I need more time. Don’t make any announcement until after the Softball Tournament tomorrow. That will give me enough time.”

Before Nanci could leave, Virginia wrapped the young detective in a hug and whispered, “It’ll lighten an old ladies heart if you solve this mystery my dear.”

image

“Do you like our uniforms?” George asked Nanci, showing off her team’s denim baseball pants and flannel jersey with their team name “Bull Dogs” emblazoned on the back. “We’re playing against the Dykes.

“Oh, are they from Holland?” Nanci asked with excitement, “Such a lovely place!”

“Yeah, they’re Dutch,” George said, inserting a protective cup into the crotch of her baseball pants.

“I’ve always wanted to save a town by putting my finger in a dyke.” Nanci mused.

“You might get that chance.”

George then revealed to Nanci her “secret weapon” for winning the softball game, a prized baseball bat George made years ago in high school wood shop. Caressing the bat’s smooth curves, George cooed, “I d be lost without my baby.”

The softball game was a welcomed diversion for everyone, but all through the game Nanci couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to happen. Standing outside the Bull Dog dugout, Nanci suddenly became aware of a familiar sweet fragrance emanating from somewhere behind her, but when she turned to look, no one was there.

The Bull Dogs were trailing the Dykes by two runs going into the seventh inning when the Dykes sent in a new pitcher, the glare from the sun prevented Nanci from seeing who it was.

“Ball one!” the umpire called as the first pitch stopped short of the plate and bounced into the crowd. The next three pitches either sailed wildly over the batter’s head, or dropped short of the plate. With one runner already on base, the batter was walked and George was up next.

“Come on George, you can do it!” The Bull Dogs cheered. George smiled and made the traditional adjustment to her uniform cup, then reached for her prized bat… but it was gone!

“It was right here!” George insisted. Nanci felt horrible that she hadn’t kept a closer watch on things. Nanci was convinced that the sweet odor she smelled was somehow connected not only to George’s stolen bat but to the other acts of vandalism that had been plaguing Camp Sister Lick.

Reluctantly, George took the plate without her prized bat. The first pitch wobbled well outside the strike zone, but George, feeling defiant, swung anyway and her bat connected. The ball flew high and straight, making a beeline for the home run fence. The crowd went wild as George took her triumphant lap around the bases, stopping only to unleash a stream of tobacco spit at third.

A fanfaronade of buttocks slapping greeted George as her foot touched home. The Bull Dogs had won the tournament!

As the teams congratulated each other, Nanci was alerted to the same sweet fragrance she smelled earlier. Sniffing around, Nanci found the source of the perfume smell. Grabbing that player’s arm, Nanci turned the girl around, “I’d like a word with you -“

“Lizzie! What are you doing, I thought you didn’t play sports,”Nanci gasped, her eyes wide with surprise.

“I don’t, but I’m pitching in!” Lizzie laughed at her own pun. It was Lizzie who had pitched so horribly the last inning and probably stole George’s prized bat!

“You’re behind the attacks at Camp Sister Lick!” Nanci cried out, holding tight to Lizzie’s arm. Lizzie tried to pull back, but Nanci’s grip was too strong, so instead Lizzie shoved Nanci to the ground and the two girls wrestled in the dirt for about a half hour before George finally separated the mud soaked girls.

“Nanci… have you lost your mind?” Virginia cried.

“I’ve discovered who has been sabotaging Camp Sister Lick.” Nanci declared.

Just as Nanci predicted, George’s purloined baseball bat was found in Lizzie’s locker, along with the missing darts and several bricks similar to the one thrown through Nanci’s window.

“How’d you know it was Lizzie?” George asked her old chum.

“Well, Camp Sister Lick is fragrance free,” Nanci explained, “I noticed the first time I met Lizzie that she was wearing Calvin Klein. At first I wasn’t sure it was Lizzie, because Calvin Klein is a unisex fragrance”

“Lizzie tried to throw suspicion off of herself by making it appear a man was behind the attacks, first by making up a story about seeing men in the woods, and then throwing a brick through my window with a flirty message. When I saw Lizzie wearing that stolen softball uniform, though, I knew she was the culprit.”

“Uh, Nanci, she’s been playing softball all Summer – her name is stitched on her jersey.” George interrupted. “Anyway, why would she do these things?”

“Employment security!” Nanci replied, “Lizzie thought if she ruined all the more popular activities the women would have no other choice but to attend her art classes.”

“Will she go to jail?” George asked.

“That depends on whether Virginia wants to press charges.” Nanci said, turning to Virginia, “I’m hoping you won’t. Lizzie needs a steady job more than prison. I’ve arranged an interview at the Rainbow Lodge where Lizzie’s art classes will be more in demand. You’ll give her a good reference won’t you Virginia?”

“Anything for you Nanci Dwuu!” Virginia laughed.

And so Nanci Dwuu closed the file on The Mystery at Camp Sister Lick. But Nanci and a mystery were never far apart, and soon Nanci would be immersed in The Clue to the Secret of the Misplaced Remote.

image