Looking through my brother's Batman comic book, it occurred to me that our Aunt Margaret, my father's sister, looked exactly like the Joker. I pointed this out to my family, and they agreed. The resemblance was uncanny. She had the same crazy hair, and put her lipstick on the same way. She was referred to, from then on, as -- 'The Joker.'
I was vacuuming the living room rug, when my mother needed to have a 'sit-down' talk with me. It was one of those talks that I knew I was about to learn a new family secret. I knew that whatever I was told was to never be repeated among the family, which was a promise that I guarded well.
I was informed that my Aunt Margaret lived in Chicago, with my Uncle Red, before they were married. If that wasn't scandalous enough, they met when she was at the height of her vast career of 'taking her clothes off and dancing naked in the circus.'
Before I had the chance to paint these pictures in my head, she said, "You know, when your father was eleven years old, exactly the same age you are now, he woke up in a hotel room, in the middle of the night, with his sister being arrested by the police for having sex with some man. Having sex in a hotel room without being married was against the law back then, and they'd put you in jail if you got caught. One time, she was arrested for having sex with some old man by the railroad tracks." I asked her why Margaret would want to be with some old man in the first place? She said, "For money. She did it for money."
I thought to myself, "Wow! You can make money doing that?" I decided that if Aunt Margaret could make money dancing naked and having sex, then anyone could, and there's no excuse for poverty in this world!
In the lunch room at school, I delivered this information to my best friend, Sandy. She said, "Of course you can make money doing that. It's called 'the world's oldest profession. They talk about it in church all the time. Maybe if you paid attention, you might learn something! The word for it is 'prostitution.' Haven't you ever heard of that word before?" I said, "Yeah, but I thought it meant something like being in an institution."
I was always fascinated with 'The Joker' from then on. Every time she sat in our house, going from drunk, to stinking drunk, I would imagine her making a fortune!