Helen protested: "Speaking of hats, I would like to point out for the
record that I have never owned or wore a hat that had flowers in them."
And I asked: "Errr, Helen, I seem to recall a little black number with a big
red flower on front, at the Halekulani?"
Helen said: "It's black but with gold trimed bow on the back."
I replied: "Ah, the tricks memory plays on us (and believe me, the older
we get, the more capricious it becomes). Reminds me of once
writing about Betka and her clove cigarettes. Much as you
did, Betka said she'd never smoked cloves in her life. (I
was confusing her with another California 'Garden Ornament').
"Appropriate the Boys call them 'stories'. Heaven knows, if
any of them ever actually read the things, I'll be writing
a long series of corrections."
Quite some time ago, I wrote a "profile" of Kory K, thought perhaps I'd do
likewise with the major players in these Tales, but abandoned the project
on the [quite legitimate] grounds that I don't really know any of them
well enough to undertake such living word-portraits. A reader wished for
such a thing for Helen R, though, so let me try to oblige.
I think it is necessary, from the start, to discuss one thing about Helen.
Helen is, unwillingly, a man. Judging from what Helen has said, she would
be quite happy, given the funds, to go through the necessary surgical
procedures to become female. Having known Helen for at least five years
now, and having some indication of her income, it is also clear
that she doesn't want it enough to save for it. We can leave any
conclusions which might be drawn from that to psychiatrists or, perhaps
even better, to Helen herself.
For me, and thus for purposes of this profile, it doesn't matter in the
least whether Helen has a penis or does not. What is, and has been for a
long time, abundantly clear is that Helen has a kind heart. Now,
we hear about "kind-hearted" people, we're even lucky enough now and then
to meet one of them. I'm not one, although I'd like to be and maybe,
sometimes, I manage it. But Helen is one. Always, in my experience.
Let me give you a stupid example. For those of you familiar with that zoo
called Usenet, you are aware of "flaming", you know that just about
everyone, no matter what their credentials or intent, will be "flamed" by
some idiot on Usenet, no matter how well-intentioned and how eloquent
their writings are. Not Helen. In all the time I have been on Usenet,
Helen has only been attacked once. That was for not posting more
worthwhile things on the newsgroup hawaii.test! A number of
people immediately jumped to Helen's defense, all of us with
tongue-in-cheek and chuckling with delight, as if a test newsgroup was any
place for "worthwhile" posts to begin with. And even more silly because
some of us use that newsgroup for irrelevant yakking about what we had for
But the "serious" battles on Usenet? No, Helen escapes those totally,
even when expressing her opinion.
Part of that, and I think crucial to being truly kind-hearted, is that
Helen doesn't talk trash about people. And, perhaps most importantly to
me, she doesn't think she knows what is best for someone else or, if she
does, she keeps her mouth shut about it. Oh, she suggests sometimes,
nudges a little, and always with the most sensible ideas, so sensible no
one could deny that she is right even if they ... we ... are too stupid to
So, yes, what is most important, most unique about Helen is that kind
heart and with it, generosity. If Helen were not so generous, she could
no doubt long ago have had that operation and then no one could object to
her wearing floor-length black gowns, long black wigs, boots, leather
jackets, funny little hats with flowers on them, whatever her good heart
desires. Even as it is, no one objects. Helen goes to her job at a
community college in those gowns when she feels like it.
Helen is, thus, brave, far braver than I could ever have been or could be
She loves motion pictures, sees the majority of new films released each
year, has a special fondness for science fiction. She also launches model
rockets, is an active member of a group here which does it at least once
or twice a month. Helen R, the Rocketeer. (She
sensibly doesn't wear the
long black gowns at the launchings.)
What else can I tell you about Helen? Kind heart, generosity, enthusiasm
for films and rockets, refrains from talking shit about people, tends to
mind her own business unless she feels she has a subtle piece of advice to
offer a friend and then does it in a way which cannot fail to hit the mark
even if the hearer is too stupid to listen.
Helen is unique. I've never known anyone like her and count myself most
fortunate indeed to have met her and to have somehow kept her on the
ever-decreasing list of people I can think of as friends.
May she live long and prosper.