Tag Archives: tomboy

Penny Marshall

When I was nine years old, my favorite color was green. The walls of my bedroom were painted light green like a lime Necco wafer. I had requested green carpet. Bright green like a golf course. But I ended up with a shag rug peppered with different shades of green.

I had two posters. One was a blacklight poster featuring a psychedelic version of Mickey Mouse. What can I say? It was 1976.

download.jpgOn the back of my bedroom door was a Laverne and Shirley poster. The picture was from the opening of the iconic television show. Shirley was pedaling away on an old  bike, and Laverne was sitting on the seat, her arms spread wide as if she might perhaps take flight.

Laverne and Shirley was my favorite television show back then.

I saw pieces of myself in Laverne DeFazio. She was a tomboy like me. Never underestimate the power of seeing pieces of yourself in a TV show, a movie, a book.

Laverne could hang with guys. If you were picking teams for a baseball game, she would be your first or second pick for sure. Same for bowling.

imagesLaverne was funny and loyal, especially when it came to Shirley, her best friend and roommate. She had a hard edge to her but a softness inside.

She was boy crazy in a loud, demonstrative way in much the same way that I was because I thought that’s how girls were supposed to be. Voh-dee-oh-doh-doh and all of that.

I often lament the fact that there was no Ellen on TV when I was growing up.

But there was a Laverne who gave hope to girls like me. A milk and Pepsi chugging tomboy who wasn’t afraid to be herself.

Rest in peace, Penny Marshall. You made the world a better place for girls like me.

#RIPPennyMarshall

 

 

 

 

 

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Fallen hero

I remember the first time I saw her.

I can still feel the excitement in my heart. The way it fluttered like a hummingbird’s wings inside my chest.

I was 30 years old but had never seen anyone like her.

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Chyna in the squared circle with the Road Dog.

Her name was Joanie Laurer, but she wrestled under the name “Chyna.” Tall and muscular, she was billed as the 9th Wonder of the World.

Chyna wasn’t the first woman to wrestle, but she was the first I had seen square off against the guys. 

In  a small way, she reminded me of my tomboy past — me in my blue jeans and baseball cap playing ball with the guys.

But she busted open gender boundaries on a grand scale with the world watching.

It was validation, but it was something else, too.

Even at 30, I needed to be reminded that I could be anyone and do anything.

* * *

Laurer passed away today at the age of 46. A few months ago, I read that she was attending a convention in nearby New Jersey. I thought about going and getting an autograph and telling her that she is one of my heroes. I guess she already knows.