This is Tiger, also known as Ellen. Photo by OmorphyPhotos.
Lila: I think this was in fourth grade, or fifth grade. […] I remember this boy that I liked kind of — I think I learned to flare my nostrils for that boy, because he could flare his nostrils. I can still do that. I practiced for several weeks when I was a kid.
Tiger: The things that we do for love. It’s true.
Lila: And I think he offered me a pen. And he said, “Do you want this pen?” And I said, “Yeah…” And he said, “How does it feel to want?”
Tiger: How old were you?
Lila: I think I was 10.
Tiger: Oh! Jeez! That’s such a good movie line. I can just see that scene right now.
Lila: And then, and then, you know, boy runs off. And girl just stands there.
Tiger: Wow. I feel like, if there was a biopic of your [life], that would be the opening scene.
Tiger: One girl turned around once freshman year. Freshman year of high school, she turned around at her desk, during a lockdown — ‘cause it was to practice in case there was a school shooting and they turn off all the lights, and we all go under our desks, and she kind of turns around and she goes, ‘Are you … Are you depressed? Do you take pills? (beat) Do you play guitar?’ And I was like, and it’s funny, because I wasn’t … and I didn’t … and I didn’t … but I kind of thought that maybe she thought I was cool or something. […] I was just very, so weird.
Lila: Do you play guitar!
Tiger: Right, it was just very funny.
Lila: Well, it’s Kurt Cobain era, right?
Tiger: (emphatically) Yes. Yes. I did have a Kurt Cobain t-shirt. I wasn’t wearing it at the time.
In this episode, I lie down with my housemate Tiger.
Tiger goes by many names, but we’ll only use two of them here. Tiger is a Professional Cuddler, or, Cuddlist. Her cuddling name is Ellen. She’s also a reiki practitioner, a trained yoga instructor, a comedian — known as “The Comedy Witch,”— and a cats fanatic. (That’s the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical theatre kind of cat, to be clear.) In lieu of performing in the actual musical,
Tiger cosplays regularly as feline, and soon plans to host Cat Cuddling events at Hacienda Studio, in which the cats are actually humans in cat costume because, and I quote, “you could cuddle real cats, but they’re unreliable.”
She writes and performs funny songs, and last year I saw her in an original hour-long one-ish-woman show entitled Kiss Me, I’m Jew-witch. She sang about celebrity sex dreams and her period. Her parents were there. It was pretty amazing.
Tiger is the closest thing I have at this point, to a sister. We have deep talks in the kitchen, during which we usually quote the title of her yet-to-be written inspirational memoir, “Breakthrough Junkie.” She scrapes me up off the floor when I need it and texts me that there are Puffins in her cabinet for a late-night snack, when I don’t.
In the first half of our episode, recorded in my bedroom at the Villa, we talk about dad disappointment, how the stork didn’t bring me, inappropriate clothing, and coming out as bisexual.
I love her. I hope you will.
Come lie down with us.
Links to Things:
Ellen’s Cuddlist profile, where you can book her for a pro cuddling session
The Comedy Witch / Ellen Snuggles, her Instagram, replete with cosplay (sometimes as Prince, sometimes as a cat, at other times, Sweeney Todd)
Reid Mihalko’s formula for having difficult conversations. Try it. I think it’s life-changing.
The Stork Didn’t Bring Me, a sex ed board game and book for kids
Show Notes (feel free to share quotes/resources on social media, and please link to iTunes, this website, or my Patreon!):
website link: https://horizontalwithlila.com/
Patreon link: https://www.patreon.com/horizontalwithlila
[3:11] “My parents are still together. They’ve— their relationship was … generally good, but I always kind of wondered as I got older what ‘good’ means, because they’ve been together as long as I’ve been around – I’m an only child – but … they … there was a lot of yelling. But I always kind of thought that was normal.” – Tiger
[3:11] Tiger’s family and yelling. The difference between Italian-American yell-y and Jewish yell-y.
[5:53] The most important people in Tiger’s life.
[6:27] Tiger’s dad and the bicycle.
[11:32] Reid Mihalko’s formula for having difficult conversations. Try it. I think it’s life-changing.
[13:00] Fighting for privacy and space as an only child.
Tiger: Even when I go home to visit, you know, I’ve had to train my parents to knock on the door and not just burst in while I’m on the toilet taking a crap, you know, like—
Lila: I did the same thing with my mom when I was home, I mean, I’m 34 years old, you know, and I closed the door, and actually, I would go into the bathroom to take a shower, and I would lock the door just so she couldn’t barge in! So I had some moments to myself! You know I think there’s something about, “I created your body, so, what’s the big deal?”
Tiger: When I feel like I have my space, then I’m more generous to give more of myself.
Lila: Absolutely, the boundaries enable us to offer more intimacy.
[16:33] “When I feel like I’m being told what to do or given unsolicited advice or opinions that it’s hard for me in … it’s been difficult in the past to figure out what’s right for me because I have these voices of the people who are saying, ‘Get this kind of job, make sure you have security, make sure you have the this and the that, and it’s like, I have both parents and grandparents who have pensions. We don’t have that anymore, so it’s very, it’s, you have the voices of people saying, ‘We want this for you and that for you,’ and it’s like, I don’t know if I want to give my parents grandchildren or not! It’s something I am starting to think about more, but I want to think about it in the way of, ‘Do I want children,’ not, ‘Do I want to give my parents grandchildren?’” – Tiger
[18:30] Lila and Tiger’s relationship to their bedrooms.
[22:57] How Tiger feels about the words “ex,” “boyfriend,” and “partner.”
[27:38] “Masturbation is your sleep aid. Who needs melatonin.” – Lila
[28:16] Tiger uses Judy Blume’s book Deenie to tell her mother.
“As soon as I got into bed I started touching myself. I have this special place and when I rub it I get a very nice feeling. I don’t know what it’s called or if anyone else has it but when I have trouble falling asleep, touching my special place helps a lot.” – Deenie, Judy Blume
[28:59] re: masturbating, “I think I’ve put in my 10,000 hours at this point.” – Tiger
[29:48] Tiger’s first sex talk. The board game and book set, The Stork Didn’t Bring Me.
[33:07] The sexism of what makes an outfit “inappropriate” for school. The trick Tiger used to get around her mom’s dress code.
[35:00] A talking-to Lila got in college about being distracting.
[38:49] Tiger’s first crushes at 11 years old (sixth grade), one on a boy, and one on a girl.
[40:38] The first girl that Lila was attracted to, when she was 15.
[43:01] The boy who offered Lila a pen.
[44:52] Tiger’s misstep with a girl friend of hers at the pool.
[46:04] The girl who asked Tiger if she was depressed.
[47:37] Tiger’s friendships in elementary school, middle school, and high school.
[48:17] “Sanctioned weirdness,” hanging out with theatre kids.
[49:18] “If you’re accepted somewhere, it doesn’t matter if you’re accepted everywhere.” – Lila
[49:30] “It made me feel like, I had my cup of tea, so it didn’t matter if I wasn’t someone else’s.” – Tiger
[49:50] Tiger dances with a boy and a girl at the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) dance
[54:21] Tiger’s first time kissing a girl.
[56:05] Coming out to Tiger’s parents as queer.