"I used to think romance was bunk. A double Mickey for the hickey..." Well, not so much. But I have always enjoyed a good Bette Midler tune here and there, and there are many reasons for it. Following is a Top 10 list of life lessons learned from The Divine Miss M, the fabulous Miss Bette Midler.
10. Well, you gotta have friends.
You see, the thing is, as a bookworm growing up in middle-of-nowhere Connecticut, Bette Midler's early recordings were a salvation for me. Sitting there on my daybed belting out "Delta Dawn" and "Mr. Rockefeller" were not things most kids my age, well, did, quite frankly. But I was different. I was always very, very unique. So was Bette. I think that was the kinship I felt with the woman -- barely above my height and stature (she is 5'1" and I was a mere 4'10" at the time). If one thing's for certain, it is this simple truth: you gotta have friends. The feeling's oh so strong. Come on, now I know you're singing along, too...
9. Boobs aren't all that bad after all.
Especially on a relatively vertically-challenged gal. My boobs began to grow at the tender age of nine years old, and yes, they were actually extremely tender. I skipped right over the training bra and scored a home run in the A cup department. Never mind the easing into things, I pulled those straps up and never looked back. Now, some xyz cup sizes later, it's very evident the lesson learned here: over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders are a girl's best friend.
8. You're either a Bette or you're a Barbra.
Not that there's anything wrong with loving both gay icons. Generally speaking, though, you're either a Bette -- or a Barbra. You're a Funny Girl or you're The Rose. You're the Yentl or you're the Beaches. Is it possible to be a Yentl on the Beaches? Quite possibly, but stick to what you're good at and "Sing out, Louise!"
7. Duck masks and bunny costumes only really look good on certain body types.
For instance, you might want to opt out of a singing telegram career if, say, you have any junk in the trunk (as I proudly do. It's "All About That Bass," my friends). Duck masks were all the rage in the '80s, but aren't as popular anymore and should most likely be burned at the mere sight or mention of said object. With this lesson learned, it was on to...
6. Every girl needs a sidekick.
Enter: The Harlettes. Bette Midler without The Staggering Harlettes is unfathomable. I mean, where would Peggy Bundy have landed if not for The Harlettes? Plus, every girl needs someone to work with "From A Distance" or during a performance of "The Big Noise from Winnetka" while walking through the office corridor downtown. Trust me, your co-workers will appreciate it. Otherwise, it's just a small noise from Winnetka and a lot of smeared makeup, and who wants to see that?
5. Poi balls are not easy to interact with by any means.
Delores De Lago, the Toast of Chicago, I mean -- come on! But who can spin those ropes around and around like The Divine Miss M? I certainly could not. Remember those boobs we mentioned earlier? Now imagine trying to swing poi balls in the air without much coordination or balance. Yeah, out. Bette, you go, sister, but leave those things away from me! Dry docks, fishtails, Vegas specials -- we have nothing on the singing mermaid from Chicago!
4. A lot can happen Under the Boardwalk.
One thing for sure: losing shoes. I've lost a lot of shoes in my day. There was also a line I didn't quite pick up on when I watched Beaches for the first time, and that was the "hand-walking queer" line. Now, one has to put this joke aside and recall Bette's outstanding commitment to the AIDS community, the LGBTQ community at-large, and, well, the gardens throughout New York City. What do these things have in common? Not much, really, but they are all individually unique and important.
3. The Chapel of Love will one day be a real thing for everyone.
When I was in high school, I belonged to a Glee-like show choir that you would've had to have seen to believe. I was a Soprano, rightfully in my place in the front row. The time came to sing a duet with a dear friend -- the only gay student who was out in the entire student body -- and we were off. Imagine the scene, will you? A lesbian, still in the closet, and the gayest 17-year-old you've ever seen in your entire life singing, "Chapel of Love" with the "that was the pit's ending to a really terrific song," moment at the bottom. You're welcome.
2. I'm Beautiful, Dammit!
Unconventional beauty rocks, if I do say so myself. Who needs pasties and cheap see-through underwear in the middle of the day on Hollywood Boulevard to feel special? Miley, this one's for you: dig a little deeper. "Some People's Lives" include big noses, large boobs and a constant need to wear heels to even reach the pedals. Get over it, America.
1. Never forget where you keep your vase.
You never know when an unexpected visitor named Ernie may show up on your doorstep and ask you to open your legs. In other words, make sure you have a few vases around the house at all times.
Images courtesy of Bette Midler/Warner Brothers.