@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
It isn’t so surprising that Pepe Le Pew was ‘canceled’ considering his actions were questionable, at best. But this is a cartoon. And it’s kind of cartoons’ ‘thing’ to exercise ghoulish overkill. Additionally, I’m willing to bet all the money I have (it’s not an impressive amount, admittedly) that no one watched this cartoon and that directly correlated with their ease to harass women. In fact, I’d argue the opposite was true. I’d argue that when you watched that lusty Skunk chase that femme fatale feline you empathized with the female— you laughed at it, but you knew Pepe was a creep. That was part of the gag. Of course I’m against kissing women against their will. But I’m also against planting TNT on someone for kicks. In either case, it doesn’t bother me in Looney Tunes. Mel Blanc was a genius and vastly superior intellectually and creatively than those offended by his characters.
But what did make me laugh about this cancelation was that one of my mom’s nicknames for my dad growing up was “Pepe Le Pew.” For reasons, at the time, was mostly because he smelled bad, but probably also reasons I won’t think about because, ew, these are my parents (one of my nicknames was after Looney Tune ‘Chicken Hawk’ because my head was abnormally big for my body, I had a little nasally voice and I was bossy to my older sister). The thought of my dad getting canceled for a cartoon made me chuckle to myself.
In reality, my dad was nothing like Pepe Le Pew. Because my dad isn’t at all romantic. This became a point of discussion after we made a failed attempt at coaching my brother in romance for his girlfriend who is soon to give birth to his baby. When given advice on how to be sweet, his reply was, “sounds gay.” And I can guess with certainty my brother went back to his usual way of farting and laughing about it. Somethings just don’t change.
The lack of his romantic side is learned from my dad. And my dad’s inability to summon even a rose petal of romance is because his father never made romantic gestures to my grandma. Not that he wasn’t a loving husband, but if anyone deserved some romance it was my grandma. Never has there been a sweeter woman, perhaps a close second is her daughter, my dad’s twin, Aunt Nancy (who did actually marry a very romantic man and fantastic cook).
If my dad did buy my mom flowers, I could probably count the amount of times on one hand. He almost never bought jewelry for her save for a few times I coerced him into a special mother’s day gift and picked it out myself. I’m unsure I’ve ever seen my parents hold hands and I’ve never seen them kiss besides a quick peck (though this I am thankful for).
If my dad had suddenly done something vastly cheesy like buy flowers, light candles, have surprise gifts wrapped in fancy boxes all of us, including my siblings and mom, would assume something was horribly wrong. Like he had a brain tumor.
Lisa, my older sister, is by far the most romance thirsty of us. Her favorite show is ‘Outlander,’ and while I’ve never watched it my mom described the show as, “imagine the most perfect guy ever— charming, handsome, strong, smart—is completely in love with you and will do anything for you at all cost and all of his dialogue is written by a woman who cleverly writes all the things women want to hear. That’s what “Outlander” is.” “Sounds gay,” I said.
Romance often makes me uncomfortable. Because more than not I see it as a thinly veiled fraudulent gesture of adulation. Which is some ways is sad. If not a tragic logjam of a mental amelioration. But it is also alarmingly accurate in more cases than not. This is not to say at some primal level I both desire and long for it, it’s that when it’s in front of me, I question it. As I question anything. And that, I could unpack, but that may be a whole other passage of contention for another time.
I’d fallen so head over heels for comedy, my knack for it, the validation from comics better than me and the social fulfillment it brought, I saw little need for romance, and all the heartache it could bring. And comedy is never without heartache. The lows outnumber the highs but those highs are really fucking good.
While I don’t regret many of my so called ‘mistakes,’ as they shape who you become, I do wonder what loves I robbed myself of by shutting people out and making myself emotionally unavailable. This, too, was somewhat of a repercussion of my childhood— and not just the learned examples of relationships but the being the mediator, the classic ‘middle child,’ the good one and perpetual emotional supporter… the fact that emotional weight so often fell on me I loathed the idea of being a burden to anyone else. Independence was attractive to me. Being alone was sexy in the sense that it meant peace. But being alone, I learned, comes at a very high price.
It would be wrong of you to read this as me expressing woes. Because while I was not an unfaithful lover, I haven’t always been easy. On more than one occasion I’ve called someone I just had sex with “gay” for telling me I was beautiful. I’ve been distant and met kindness with sarcasm. It’s like a nerve response to me. I can’t help it. In retrospect, stings come from now knowing that people I liked had no idea I had any sort of feelings for them at all when, in my mind, I had been sending signals. But I guess when people said I wasn’t normal, or somewhat on the spectrum, they weren’t wrong. How my brain works isn’t reciprocal for the masses. This is not a trait I lament. Save for these limited times. These limited times when even my best friends say, “I can’t even imagine you flirting.” Or worse, hearing someone you flirted with say, “I can’t even imagine you flirting.”
In what was the wake of heated family feud, a rare instance occurred where I had completely lost my cool and snapped. I said to my mother in response to being caught between the heat of my siblings quarrel something to the effect of, “it’s always me being the mediator. It’s always me being the mature one. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of playing this role I didn’t sign up for. And no one appreciates it!”
“I appreciate it,” Mom said.
And just then I felt bad. I felt bad because I knew Mom did appreciate it. All the times I swallowed my anger.
Perhaps there it is right there. The breakthrough. The fear of failure. And inevitable disappointment you will bring to the ones you love.
Though they are without grand gestures, my parents are a great match. Even many of my 19 first cousins said they think my parents had the best marriage in the family. It’s true my parents rarely fight. They bicker, as couples do, and it usually ends in laughter. They are very silly and when it comes to humor, they are on the same page. A well timed joke is priceless. Diamonds are pretty, but they aren’t fun. If we were nothing else, despite our flaws, we were a family that knew how to had fun. Because what is more genuine than the sound of laughter?