What a week! Or, should I say, “Wart a week!”
Yes, a horrid wart! In full view of my public? Can you believe? That’s what I get for trying to avoid the H1N1 virus. What the hell am I talking about? I’ll explain all about Mr. Wart in just a moment. First, let’s talk about something more uplifting and festive:
The Barneys holiday windows! This year I have created, along with my elves, an homage to Saturday Night Live. What prompted this? Glad you asked: It’s the 35th anniversary of the Lorne Michaels laugh-a-minute juggernaut. Barneys and SNL, two fabulous New York icons, eternally reinventing themselves. Why, the press release writes itself.
For the past six weeks, my elves and I have been szooshing and papier-mâché-ing and caricaturing the most iconic SNL characters into giant holiday ornaments: Maya Rudolph’s Condi, Steve Martin’s King Tut, hermaphroditic Pat, Church Lady, Wayne’s World, etc., right up to the brilliantly loony Kristen Wiig channeling the malevolent and bizarre Gilly.
And there are cigarettes! For the first time in years, I have been able to stick fags in the window without fear of censure. Killer Bee Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Father Guido Sarducci are all lit up!
Raking through the SNL archive was a brutal reminder of the passing of time: When I arrived in the U.S. in the 1970s, just a simple window dresser with a dream, Saturday Night Live, with its good-looking cast of groovy long-hairs, provided me with a nifty shortcut into American culture. The catchphrases spread like herpes, or warts (but let’s not go there yet); ’ere long I, too, was shrieking “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not” and “Jane, you ignorant slut” and “Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!”
Reading the old scripts brought back bittersweet memories of many deceased greats. Babawawa (Gilda Radner) interviewing Marwene (Madeline Kahn in full Dietrich mode) is a personal fave:
GILDA: Marwene … you are so withe and swender. How do you stay so swim?
MADELINE: Swimming keeps me swim. My daily wegimen incwudes swimming twelve waps in my pool. It’s wonderful for my wegs.
I wish my wart was on my weg where nobody could see it. It’s not. It’s in full view on my wight middle knuckle.
It all started with Barack Obama and that fist bump. When I saw him do it, I thought, “Bingo! The perfect way to sidestep the horror of shaking hands with people whose paws are, if not crawling with microbes, then at least clammy and foul.”
Full disclosure: I have a long history of obsessive hand-washing. By the age of 10, I had earned myself the nickname “Lady Macbeth.”
Armed with my new fist bump (please don’t call it “fisting”; that is something entirely different, and very horrid, and involves many, many more germs and requires a lot more equipment, including, but not limited to, a sling), I charged into the fall season. I felt empowered by having found the perfect germ-free solution—bold, forthright and butch—to a complicated social dilemma. Wart could possibly go wrong?
Suddenly last week, I noticed a suspicious nodule. “Verruca vulgaris,” said my dermatologist, Dr. Grace Pak, adding, somewhat unnecessarily, “the common wart.” As the Church Lady/Dana Carvey would always say, “Well, isn’t that special?”
Dr. Pak confirmed that the wart was, most likely, a direct consequence of my Lady Macbeth routine, plus bumping. “Excessive hand-washing can impair the skin-barrier function, “ she noted. “Forceful contact can easily transfer the HPV wart virus to the knuckle area.”
Oy vay! Wart a disaster! I have no idea when I contracted the unsightly thing, or how many thousands of bumpees have been the unwitting recipients. Of one thing I am certain: Typhoid Mary has a new friend. Warty Walter, at your service.
And, now, as this most festive of seasons descends, Warty Walter has to scramble to find a whole new socially acceptable greeting. As Roseanne Roseannadanna once said, “It’s always something.”