Funk-the-Janitor, Part 1

I grew up in a really weird house.

I came into this world knowing things. I don’t know how I knew, only that I did. This didn’t go over so well in my New York Italian home. Girls in my family didn’t get to have a voice, and they certainly didn’t “know” things.

Only special people knew things. Special, meaning males.

My parents believed ghosts could control people. On the one hand, the idea of ghosts terrified them, but on the other, they revered people who could see them. My Uncle Carl was one of those people. Not me. Because what little girl could be powerful or special?

At five years old, as I was returning from the bathroom one night, I saw a man standing against the back wall of my bedroom. I was so terrified I couldn’t scream. When my voice finally returned, the sound was so bloodcurdling that my father was instantly at my side, searching for the intruder. No one was there.

Seeing that spirit was one of the biggest reasons I was afraid every moment of every day.

I remember thinking when I turned ten, I wouldn’t be afraid anymore. And yet I was. To soothe myself, I started planning my escape from the house of torture. I imagined being Cinderella, married to Prince Charming. But instead of Prince Charming, God gave me Funk, a six-foot-eight hick from West Vagina.

Funk was nine years older than me, a professor at the college I attended. Back then, they didn’t make clothes to fit a tall frame, so he wore his father’s khaki work uniforms. I thought he was the janitor. After he deciphered one of my dreams, I was taken with him and we started dating. By dating I mean, we went to the local bar to listen to live Bluegrass music and then to his house afterwards. Anyways, little did I know that that would be the last time the head guy I’m married to would speak about the philosophical things this heart girl loves talking about. I should’ve run the other way while I still had the chance, but that’s the story for Funk-the-Janitor, Part 2.

Back to my parents. I couldn’t win no matter how old I was.

After Funk dropped me off at my dorm late one night, I placed a collect call to my mother to tell her about my new boyfriend.

Her response?

“What would a professor want with you?”

Who cared that he wore his father’s Mobay Chemical Uniforms? He was a professor AND a man! What could someone like that possibly see in a little nothing like me?

Well, this girl is 64 now, and Funk has always helped me see the good in me that I can’t see for myself. Just the other day when my cosmic whip was out, to send it back into the closet, he started ticking off a list of my “accomplishments.” Such as, I raised two natural children and the two we took in and welcomed 10 exchange students into our home. And I did all that while managing our household and running my own business. When the kids were older, I ran a mayoral campaign without any experience, and my candidate actually won! I’ve written two books, the first is still selling and the second is holding strong in the #1 New Release position on Amazon. I’m a regular contributor for See Beyond Magazine and recently, Facebook said I was a “Rising Creator.” I still have no idea what that means, but I’m a whore for a compliment, so I’m taking it!

When Funk listed all those qualities, I thought to myself, “If he was telling me about some other woman with those attributes, I would’ve thought she was all that.” For whatever reason, I tend not to view myself that way.

When I reflect on my own life I don’t really see my “accomplishments” as that big a deal. They were just things I was passionate about and wanted to do, so I did them. The things that are most important to me are having an abundance of loving and fun relationships, even if they take loads of work to nurture. That, and stepping with kindness with strangers, even the less likable ones. Because being kind not only lifts those up who need a hand, it’s also the key to influencing others to my way of thinking, and that is way more satisfying than popping off at someone who is acting stupid. (Lord, if I did that, I’d be in Funk’s face three times a day!) And finally, high on my list is the thrill of experiencing new cultures.

Here’s to you if you’ve also suffered tons of small forms of torture in your childhood home. Now that I’m older and have more confidence, I miss the daily phone calls with my mother, even if she did continue the negative talk until the end of her life. She couldn’t help herself. She was Italian.

The Photo: Funk-the-janitor/professor, 27 years old, Salem, West Virginia.