“You two look like Mutt and Jeff.”
I imagine this is the first thing my grandmother would say if she were still alive and got to meet my girlfriend, Julie.
Mutt and Jeff, published in the early 1900s, is regarded as the first popular daily comic strip. It featured a pair of mismatched friends and working class everymen. The duo — Mutt, tall and gangly, and Jeff, short and stubby — was a precursor to Laurel and Hardy, and the height discrepancy was both amusing and exacerbated when the pair stood side by side.
My grandmother would bring up Mutt and Jeff whenever she met one of my taller friends. Since I’m barely pushing five feet, and even lied to the DMV about my stature, this was just about everyone I knew. So I heard the Mutt and Jeff line often growing up.
Tall, blonde and beautiful, when she wears heels – and she often does, given the nature of her job as a ballroom dance instructor – I come right up to Julie’s breast line. It’s not a bad place to be, so I’m not complaining. When not in heels, she’s still a head taller than I am, and I’m able to easily nuzzle my face into her neck when she puts her arms around me. Again, I’m not complaining. But Julie says that I’m bad for her posture.
My grandmother never got to meet Julie. She never got to meet anyone I’ve dated.
When I first came out to my parents at 18, my mother suggested I not tell my grandparents.
So I didn’t.
Even after my grandmother offered sage advice about how I should marry a rich man. Even after I gushed to her about whomever my current “best friend” was. Even after she saw the pictures of the woefully small one-bedroom basement apartment I moved into with one of these “best friends” when I was 23.
The irony is, my grandparents encouraged my weekly attendance at Sunday mass and helped fund my Catholic school education.
An all-girls Catholic school education. Lesbian breeding ground.
A small school of about 200 students, my high school was set in a gorgeous, rambling old hotel, with winding underground tunnels and a bell tower, on a bucolic 200-acre campus cloistered from the outside, rundown ghetto by a quaint stone wall. All the girls, even the straight ones, dated girls.
It was like lesbian Harry Potter, minus the wizardry and charming accents.