I Got Crosby’d in LA!

Shannon Kernaghan Crosbyd-web-400 I Got Crosby'd in LA! Humor

 For a week, I teetered between life and death. 

I wasn’t ill or injured but living my best life in Los Angeles where I’d been invited to read a short story. Our six-person lineup for the VAMP Storytelling Showcase was led by three performance coaches and event producers.  

Not only was I in Cali for a reading, but I was about to meet my second cousin Carl. It felt like I already knew him, both through his New York sister who I’m close with, and through the movies he’s worked on (as Jaws co-writer and screenplay, for one).  

Earlier when I told him how near he lived to my West Hollywood venue, his message was hospitable: How terrific! I am in town and free that evening, and we’ll be hanging out while you’re in L.A., right?  

As soon as I arrived in L.A. I found out Carl’s a night owl; he also had scheduling issues that week. Our only chance was late Thursday afternoon. No worries, from his place I could head straight to my event, held at a cool vodka bar.  

Meet my cousin? Read my story with new friends and drink voddy martinis? What could be better? 

One major thing.  

                                                            ~ 

Ahead of my reading, I had several days to explore the City of Angels. A day-long tour took me past clubs and hotels. One drive-by was the Viper Room; our tour guide pointed out the sidewalk where actor River Phoenix died of an overdose.  

Next, our shuttle stopped in front of the Chateau Marmont where John Belushi died of an overdose and photographer Helmut Newton also died after crashing his car into the hotel wall.  

The next day I carried my “death story” forward by spending half a day in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Founded in 1899, it’s one of the oldest cemeteries in L.A. and the final resting place for hundreds of Hollywood legends.  

I’d wanted to visit after writing a story on how the cemetery hosts regular events for the community – live music and summer movie screenings. What a positive way to spin death into public celebrations. This cemetery has become a welcoming “living place” as well as a final “resting place.” 

I also realized that Hollywood Forever was the closest I’ll get to a raft of notables, from those my parents adored to those who’ve entertained me. 

I’ve never spent as much time or had such memorable moments in a cemetery, especially one with such a tranquil park-like setting. Usually, I’m at a gravesite because of a funeral; the season is generally winter, the weather is cold and dreary, and the day is sad because I’ve lost someone important.  

Not this day! The sun shone, the temperature was mild and peacocks strolled when I started my walking adventure. 

I read and recorded the stones and plaques of many celebrities interred in Hollywood Forever: Judy Garland and a memorial marker of Toto; Burt Reynolds, Valerie Harper, Chris Cornell, Rudolph Valentino, Mickey Rooney, Hattie McDaniel and so many more. 

My husband, who stayed in Alberta, had one simple request: “Find Bugsy Siegal and send me a pic!” Bugsy co-owned both the El Cortez and the Flamingo, and was murdered in his girlfriend’s home in Beverly Hills. Our interest in Sin City’s mob history developed after spending a lot of time in Las Vegas. 

Using the site map I’d purchased from the office, I entered a large columbarium with long rooms. Each room had hundreds of niches on either side; worse, every bronze plaque looked almost identical. I started with the furthest room and let my eyes trail across name after name . . . and suddenly there he was, Benjamin Siegal, with nothing more to draw attention than a few plastic flowers. Then I saw a row of pink lipstick kisses on the stone under his plaque! (I read later that kiss marks are for good luck in Vegas!) 

I took several photos for Paul, pleased that others still found Bugsy a captivating character.  

Another discovery was the life-size bronze statue of Anton Yelchin, an actor who died at age 27 when his own SUV crushed him in 2016. His statue faces a lovely bird-filled pond.  

As I stood feet away and explored other headstones, a woman walked from a car and climbed onto the base of Anton’s statue. With closed eyes, she hugged his back and kissed it. Weird, I thought, she seems too old to be such an emotional fan. Minutes later she returned to her car and drove off.  

Hollywood Forever was different from other cemeteries. I’ve never seen so many personalized plots, complete with rows of spinning whirligigs and personal items, from teddy bears to sports equipment. And many people ate at gravesites, arriving with lawn chairs and bags of food.  

I carefully tiptoed around graves when a man on the nearby road waved and asked how I was doing. 

“I’ve been to many cemeteries,” I said, “but they had more space, some even had dedicated paths. Here, I feel disrespectful. Should I be standing on their graves?” 

He paused and with a smile said, “Don’t worry, I think they’d be happy you’re here.”  

What a sweet comment; I felt my hand reach for my heart. When I said I came from Canada, he seemed impressed that I chose to spend my time in the cemetery instead of doing the usual tourist stuff. He lives in the area and comes often to walk, he said. 

He pointed to Anton’s statue. “Did you notice that woman who hugged his statue? That was his mom. I’ve seen her before and she’s always crying. 

Of course! She looked like Anton with the same dark curly hair! Again, my hand touched my heart. 

“And this one here? This is the photographer Halyna Hutchins, the woman Alec Baldwin shot while making his movie?” 

Moments before I’d read her name and looked at a picture someone had left. 

“Come this way,” and he pointed to a mausoleum wall. “It’s not marked yet, but it’s for Anne Heche.” For the next half hour, he pointed out celebrity locations and told stories about them. My only offering was the direction to Bugsy’s niche, one he’d never been able to find. 

                                                                ~ 

It was Thursday morning, the day of my reading. Since this was my last full day, I’d planned to visit Westwood Memorial Park, another well-known cemetery.  

While Westwood is smaller than Hollywood Forever, I would find many celebrities, from Marilyn Monroe, Rodney Dangerfield and Roy Orbison to my husband’s favorite Natalie Wood. But I had my afternoon get-together with cousin Carl and a 7 pm run-through at the bar.  

Was I cutting my schedule too tight? I decided to pass on the Westwood excursion and relax at my hotel.  

Minutes away from heading to Carl’s, a text from my husband pinged: Bad news – Crosby just died! 

This news wouldn’t shock many. Musician David Crosby was over 80 and had battled drugs and health issues: a liver transplant, diabetes, hepatitis C and heart surgery. 

But my cousin would be affected by his death. I phoned him to offer my condolences and let him know I was ready to come over. He cancelled, too overcome with emotions, processing his feelings and fielding calls and messages from others.  

Dammit! But he’d come to my show, he assured me.  

The evening was a lot of fun, filled with great stories, but Carl didn’t show. His text arrived at 11 pm as I sipped a martini and celebrated with new friends: Terribly sorry about missing our connection, Shannon, but David’s death struck me particularly hard, we were close friends for 50 years. Predating the Byrds even. I co-authored two books with him. Call me after your gig.  

I’d been Carl-blocked and Crosby’d! Not to sound cold, but if only he’d waited a couple of hours.  

And that “one major thing” I mentioned earlier? No more death stories, please. I’d had my share. 

At least we had a deep and satisfying conversation when I returned to my hotel and phoned him. Carl told me he signs off messages and phone calls with “may all grief be far.” A fitting expression, considering how a celebrity death ruined the only chance for us to meet (Carl is over 80 and I live 1,700 miles away. Unless Hollywood calls me again, and soon, I might not make it back in time.)   

Years ago, Carl sent me an autographed copy of their book Long Time Gone. While I didn’t meet my cousin in person, I have his writing with Crosby; in a small way that connects me to both of them. 

Home again and watching a YouTube video taken at our event, a final irony made me grin. For the first time I noticed the tagline of my VAMP showcase: SAVING STORIES FROM THE GRAVE.  

Talk about apropos. 

When it comes to losing people I care about, I hope to keep everyone alive through my stories. 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stellar Nursery

Shannon Kernaghan Twinkle-Steller-Nursery-400 Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stellar Nursery Humor

“Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling the transmission.” This useful advice comes direct from sci-fi series “The Outer Limits,” which would have been scary when it ran in 1963.  

I discovered reruns on YouTube, amazed at each full hour of drawn-out stories and limited special effects, from visible wire holding up the UFOs to monsters wearing zip-up costumes. Loved it! 
 
For some “unearthly” reason, I compared relationships and marriage to the Outer Limits, that far away galaxy where dating stops and a phase with one solitary star begins. 

Take you: when young, you’re free-wheeling star matter, spreading your gases in wild abandon, preferably with the cute stars who have great biceps and large . . . solar systems. 
 
Then it happens, a meteoric fireball of sorts and you collide with that special star. Suddenly you can’t imagine a world where you aren’t orbiting around each other, the gravity too strong to pull apart.  

You know it’s love when you stop spending money on expensive cosmetics and start buying toss cushions and area rugs. And where you once worried about finding the money for rock concert tickets, today you’re shopping for life insurance and learning about mortgage rates. Until now, premiums and amortization calculators fell in the category of yawn, bo-ring.  

Enlarge your universe with a little nebula of your own? Paint the stellar nursery in cosmic colors now that you’re a couple?  

Maybe you will, since your ovaries are controlling the transmission, if you happen to be a woman. 
 
That works for some, those of you anxious to buy maternity smocks as your solar mass flares. Me, I wore an invisible flak jacket because in my constellation, the cataclysmic moment never arrived and I’ve remained one uncharted black hole. 
 
Sure, I enjoy a Big Bang with my partner every now and then, but that hasn’t resulted in a new nebula. Instead, we’ve remained happy binary stars. We’ve chosen to spend our eternity figuring out how to survive the eclipses that occur when diverse genders share the same galaxy. It’s been a ride! 

At some point we decided to leave well enough alone.  

After all, there’s enough competition over the TV remotes.  

If Freddy Krueger Knocks, Don’t Answer!

Shannon Kernaghan halloween-22-400-insta If Freddy Krueger Knocks, Don't Answer! Humor

With Halloween about to knock, get ready for scary movies with their goblins, cobwebs and skeletons. But enough about my closet.

Spooky movies aren’t only for teenagers who love the many versions of Nightmare on Elm Street. Or for kids who shiver around the campfire while someone with a flashlight under their chin tries to make everyone lose their S’mores.

Adults can be equally enthusiastic. One of my friends asked if I’d ever been scared, “Not your garden variety nervous, but really terrified.”

“Yup, the time Paul and I boondocked in the desert.” I explained how we wanted to spend a few nights in our RV away from city lights, with nothing in sight or sound range.

As we drove from the town of Quartzsite, Arizona, I questioned our decision. Not only were we out of range, but we were out of roads, driving slowly to avoid deep gulches and rocky terrain.
“Honey,” I said, “if we have to get out fast, there’s no way–”

“Stop worrying all the time, have a sense of adventure!”

“Just saying.”

Turns out it WAS a cool experience, but we had no idea how far we headed from civilization. Our only sights were cacti and rocks, along with a bobcat and roadrunner.

We also spotted a few small tents while we drove, yet nobody was around, not even a parked vehicle.

“Maybe people sleep in them and work in town,” Paul said. “Why else would anyone pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere?”

Hmn. Weird.

We parked and pulled out our chairs. The sun shone warm, the beverages ran cool . . . and then the sun set. Suddenly everything outside our RV windows looked shadowy and unrecognizable.

“Paul, what if something goes wrong? We’ve no idea where we are, so how will anyone find us?”

“We’ll be fine,” he said, but with less conviction since losing daylight. Cue the spooky soundtrack.

We’d just gone to bed when a light flashed across our dark RV wall. “What the hell . . .?” A car appeared and made a slow circle around our trailer before driving away. “That’s not right,” I said.

Then it circled again, just as slowly.

Our escape plan? We had nothing. Weapons? Nada. Worse, we couldn’t drive away without leaving the RV to get into our truck. And how fast could we go across deep trenches in the dark?

Minutes later the car circled a third time! By now we’d pulled on our jeans and Paul dug through our cutlery drawer for sharp objects. Every horror movie I’d ever watched fast-forwarded in my brain. Neither of us said anything; all I heard was my shallow breathing and pounding heart.

And then . . . nothing. Paul started to giggle.

“What’s so bloody funny?”

“I bet that was somebody looking for their tent, they were probably lost in the dark!”

While my heart rate slowed, I kept my jeans on and didn’t sleep more than a few minutes at a stretch. I’ve never appreciated the rising sun as much in my life!

Once back in town and plugged into the services of an RV park, back to the smells of neighbors grilling, the sounds of music, laughter and barking dogs, we agreed that our boondocking experience was over.

With nothing stronger than flimsy locks on our RV, how would we keep out Freddy Krueger, Jason or the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Besides, we didn’t want to find that urban legend ‘arm with a pirate-like hook’ hanging from our door.

Do I like scary movies? Sure, providing I never play a starring role.

Happy Fright Night!

No Disappointment in My Fantasy

Shannon Kernaghan Fantasy No Disappointment in My Fantasy Humor

Welcome to my weekly confessional. Today’s subject is fantasies. Take mine. I can’t be the only woman who stands in a checkout line and thumbs through magazines to see what my favorite celebs are wearing. And who they’re canoodling.

What about you? You hear a song from your past that evokes memories of good times. In truth, those “good times” were likely fraught with youthful chaos and confusion. But they’re your memories, dammit, and you can choose to remember the highlights, like how you fit a pair of size 26 Levis, and how you often had your pick of the litter. (I’m talking men, not dogs.)

Back to my fantasy. While waiting at a red light, you glance over and spot a gorgeous man in the next lane. Since I always occupy the passenger seat – be it car, taxi or donkey cart – I have plenty of time to safely gawk. And dream.

In my fantasy, if an interesting male enters the storyline, I can’t be the contentedly married woman I am in real life. No, I must be a widow and a respectable period of mourning has already passed. My poor partner died a painless death, of course. He isn’t even allowed to be in a coma because miracles happen and in my fantasy, I don’t need that kind of pressure.

Crank up the fantasy volume: when I hit the dance floor, I move like an incarnation of Beyonce and Shakira. In reality, I look like a flailing fool, never quite sure in what decade I’m dancing. I might be doing the funky chicken, the hustle, hip hop, who can tell?

More likely I’m still dancing the step-shuffle routine I learned in grade six to The Archies song “Sugar, Sugar.” I fear the day I’m forced to watch a video of myself on the dance floor. Never again will I budge from my folding chair.

As for appearance, all body hair is sublime in my fantasy, and it doesn’t grow or shed. In other words, you won’t find me primping, plucking, or slumped in a salon chair washing that gray right outta my hair. In my make-believe world, I yank the ball cap off my head and slo-mo twirl as if I cat-walked out of a Herbal Essence commercial.

In my fantasy, I’m never disappointed. Peek in and you’ll find me doing everything with success. Might as well, I’m the one writing the script. Just make sure no editors get their hands on my work. I’d hate to see all their red ink.

Ah, screw the editors. Next stop – the red carpet. I haven’t awarded myself any Oscars lately.

Undies Give Up the Ghost? Spooky!

Shannon Kernaghan Halloween-web-400 Undies Give Up the Ghost? Spooky! Humor

UFO sightings. Near-death experiences. Underwear mishaps. Many people have them and are too shaken up to speak openly. Especially about their underwear horror stories.

One of my nieces bravely shared her near-death underwear encounter. The underwear didn’t expire, but according to her, she almost died from embarrassment. She was young, and it’s easy to keel over from shame at age 20.

While getting dressed for work, she discovered she was out of undies so became resourceful – she pulled on bathing suit bottoms and hurried downtown. Of course, that was the same moment when a gust of wind blew up her dress and gave bystanders a generous view of her bathing suit. She was mortified and will forever remember her “Marilyn Munroe” moment.

At least she was wearing a woman’s swimsuit. And from a distance, who can discern Lycra from Spandex?

My own underwear story took place when I lived in North Vancouver. I worked downtown and used the Seabus to cross the Burrard Inlet.

Although these floating buses run every 15 minutes, daily riders develop a “personal best” mentality when it comes to catching them. The challenge is to race through the terminal and board the ferry before the gates close.

One day I forgot to set my alarm and slept in. Worse, I realized there wasn’t a single pair of panties in my drawer. No worries, I could always snipe from my husband’s stash. Not his panties, but his Joe Boxers and Stanfields.

I’d never worn men’s briefs before, except on my head for a few minutes at a Halloween party, but I was late. And desperate, so I folded and safety pinned the waistband’s elastic for a better fit.

“This is kinda nice,” I told a co-worker during the day. “Men’s gonch are comfy, with room to spare.”

Arriving at the Seabus station after work, I glanced at the clock and knew I’d have to sprint alongside a pack of transit users if I hoped to make the next bus. We were off and running.

Down to the last stretch, the safety pin holding everything in place under my skirt decided to give up the ghost. My comfy undies suddenly broke anchor and slipped to my knees. They were heading south to my ankles.

I stopped and grabbed for them, all to the curious stares of people around me, people who gave me a wide berth. Any idea how tough it is to look dignified when you’re hauling up men’s unmentionables in public?

Yes, of course I missed the Seabus, and no, I’ve never again worn men’s underwear since that experience.

At least I learned some valuable lessons – either buy more lingerie, bump up the laundry schedule, or wear pants if I’m ever brave enough to don another pair of men’s skivvies.

Since Halloween is fast approaching, I plan to be ready for every spooky party possibility. Better buy new safety pins.

Post Covid Scissors Sale!

Shannon Kernaghan Shan-Bang-clse-up-web400 Post Covid Scissors Sale! Humor

(from online ad) FOR SALE: JW SHEARS, 27 TEETH

Funny backstory on these scissors: about five months ago my wife was frustrated with her hair. But salons were closed with the Covid lockdown, so I offered to help by trimming a little. Surprisingly, she agreed.

First, I consulted my University of the World: YouTube. Hair cutting looked pretty easy, at least after watching my max retention limit of three videos. “I’ve got this!” I shouted to Shannon. “I’m off to the beauty supply store to get some hair cuttin’ tools.”

Home again, I was excited to show her my purchases. Instead of smiles, she freaked out at the price. “But these are pro shears, babe, gotta have the best. After all, it’s YOUR hair.” With a little convincing (plus her desperation), I pulled out a kitchen chair and motioned for her to sit. “Relax, I got this.”

I wouldn’t let her watch me work or take a peek until I’d finished. Twenty minutes into my styling, something seemed different from the YouTube results. Oh well. Based on the growing hair pile at my feet, I’d done enough.

“You can look now!” and I pulled the towel from her shoulders. She hurried to the bathroom mirror. I expected joyous exclamations and was ready for hugs because once again in our years of marriage I’d saved the day . . . not a sound. Hmn. Not quite the reaction I expected. Wow, I thought, this is gonna be great. Maybe I can cut other peoples’ hair–

She raced from the bathroom and barrelled towards me: “What the f*ck! Why did I trust you with scissors?!” Her face turned an unhealthy shade of red. “It’s a good thing I don’t have to go any where for the next few months, as if that’ll be enough time for your hatchet job to grow out! This is worse than when my mom cut my bangs!”

I heard more curse words as she stomped away, and that’s when she yelled, “Get rid of those scissors! It’s either me or them, one of us goes!” I promised to make them disappear but simply hid them in a drawer . . . until she found them yesterday.

PS things are slightly better now that her salon opened again. “Jeez,” said the stylist. “You sure have lots of straggly bits . . . I’ll have to take off tons to get these sections even . . . did you have a fight with a weed whacker?”

REDUCED PRICE IF YOU BUY TODAY! I’m still sleeping on the couch. Please help.

Reflective Surfaces Are Scary!

Shannon Kernaghan Beholder-400 Reflective Surfaces Are Scary! Humor

When do you consider yourself old? Do you base aging on a number? Or on how many daytimers you’ve filled with events through the years? Or do reflective surfaces have the final say?

Anyone with an opinion will argue that age is a state of mind. Me? I say that age is a state of mirror. I’m putting my money on the reflective surface theory.

There are other ways to remind you of the dwindling sand in your hourglass. I call them “age assisters.” My age assister caught up with me recently in the form of a teenager. She did the unthinkable: she offered me her seat on the LRT.

In theory, this gesture sounds generous and thoughtful. Her offer was the sign of a well-behaved youth, aware of the world around her and alert to more than what’s happening on her Instagram page. 

After declining the offer, I thanked her, saying I’d be getting off soon.

Despite my short ride, there was plenty of time to study her flawless skin while I stood and gripped the overhead bar. There was more time still to wonder when my hair last shone like hers, without the boost from caustic chemicals and pricey products.

Then I weighed the facts: I wasn’t carrying bags of groceries and none of my limbs were bound in a cast. Here’s where things turned ugly. Instead of being thankful for her generosity, I screamed in my head, “Does she think I’m old? It’s not fair! I’m not ready!”

Sigh. “It’s official, I’m getting old,” was my next thought, with less drama. My self-assurance came to a clichéd screeching halt as quickly as my LRT ride.

But I’m over that negativity today. I’m back to my positive self with little more than an unexpected kick start.

Why such a turnaround? This morning a group of young men in their twenties drove by and whistled at me from their car, yelling a phrase that included “Hey baby!” and “nice [undecipherable body part]!” I spun around to make sure no one else was standing behind me, at least no one younger. And then I scanned my own body, in case I was dragging toilet paper on my sneaker.

Since the vehicle traveled past quickly, those young men had no idea what was beneath my ball cap and sunglasses.

But who cares? As an aging woman, I don’t mind occasional attention from strangers, even those who yell from their vehicle and confuse me with someone younger, or someone else entirely.

Today I’m fast-walking to the gym where a good workout might hold back a few of those falling sands.

Wait . . .  the gym has mirrors. Better leave my glasses at home. What I don’t see will thrill me, not kill me.

Gotta Have Sole

Shannon Kernaghan Gotta-Have-Sole-400 Gotta Have Sole Humor

I associate myself with Vogue magazine like I associate myself with Albert Einstein. If Vogue and Einstein were in one room discussing Prada and Pi, I wouldn’t have much genius to add to either conversation.

But the acceptance that I’m a simple jeans and sneakers consumer doesn’t stop me from buying the occasional Vogue magazine. Why the purchase, when I don’t aspire to wear the uber-fashions and overpriced strips of linen and leather? Because I like the purdy pictures.

While flipping through a recent issue, thick as a phone book, I developed tunnel vision and focused primarily on the pages with shoes.

Many of the styles would be perfect for women with the polymer stance of a Barbie doll. One pair that stand out (pun intended) have immeasurably high heels and are bent in the middle at a severe right angle.

I’m a fairly typical woman. If I slip on a pair of heels, I instantly feel great. Not only am I taller, but I’m thinner. According to the charts, my weight and height are magically the ideal specs for a 21-year-old in perfect health.

Perhaps shoes are being sold solely for closet ornamentation. One fact is obvious: many of the shoes splashed across Vogue’s pages are not designed for long walks.

If I slipped on a pair for a night out, I’d need an air-lift from the parking lot to the restaurant entrance. From there, a host would have to carry me to my table.

But my feet would look divine. And for the few seconds I could totter to a standing position, my legs would look even better. Immobility is a small price to pay.

I smiled after hearing the latest fashion quote: “Your feet are the new face.” For anyone with bunions, corns and a medley of foot or nail fungus, this is one dismal discovery.

The announcer went on to ask, “How far would you go to fit a stunning stiletto? Would you shorten a toe? Inject collagen into your heels? Shave down a bone to achieve the perfect peds?” Eww.

I fret over an impending teeth cleaning at the dentist’s office. The odds that I’ll anesthetize myself to cosmetically alter my tootsies are as likely as me owning that $1,000 pair of Manolos or Louis Vuittons.

Someone in the shoe industry did a survey and discovered that 37% of women would wear high heels, even if their feet were uncomfortable. Those shoe industry moguls must be the same brains behind the term ‘toe cleavage.’

I’m not sure what toe cleavage is, but I hope I don’t have to start buying a bra for that. Worse, would I need ten of them?

If Einstein were alive today, the equation for Pi would need some reformatting: energy (E) equals mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared . . . as in square-toed pumps and wedge heels are what’s sizzling hot for this fall season!