Saturday, May 29, 2004

Secrets & Lies

When I was a girl, I had secret lives. Several, actually. Although maybe I should say secret passions, but I felt like separate people when I inhabited my fantasies for each one.

In one life I was a hand-waver extraordinaire, a la Vanna White. After school, when no one else was home (mother working at department store, father coaching at the high school, little bratty brother mercifully somewhere...ELSE), I'd make my way through the living room and kitchen imagining that I was Carol Merrill on "Let's Make a Deal." (Vanna can't hold a candle to Carol, but that's another story.) I'd begin with the Encyclopedia Brittanica housed in the nice little wooden bookcase next to the front door, move past the large windows in the corner of the room and the huge boxy TV (which wasn't glamorous enough to bother waving over) to the Baldwin Organ, past the fireplace to the Magnavox stereo (the enormous, low, cabinet kind--where the lid on top slid open to reveal a turntable on one side) into the kitchen to the Frigidaire. I used to dream that we'd one day own a fridge with separate freezer and refrigerator compartments so that I'd have two doors to open on that appliance. (But, alas, we owned a huge freezer that was in the garage, much like every other family I knew.) I would repeat this cycle endlessly: Encyclopedia Brittanica, Baldwin Organ, Magnavox Stereo, Frigidaire. It helped that these were actual items that appeared behind doors numbers 1 through 3 on "Let's Make a Deal." If only we'd owned some Broyhill furniture...

No one in my family was aware that I longed to grow up to be a television hand-waver. Carol was elegant and lovely and added a touch of class to an otherwise tacky show. And I was a naturally graceful girl and had great hand movement (my dance teachers told me so). I would seem to have all (two) of the qualifications required for the job, but unfortunately my future held other things in store for me.

In the late '80's I was living in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle had some sort of essay contest. I honestly can't remember what the idea behind the contest was, but I decided to out myself. I submitted a short piece I'd written a couple of years before while visiting friends in Petaluma. It was called "I Coulda Been Vanna" and it was chosen as one of the winning essays. A slightly-butchered version of it was printed alongside the other winning entries. Family and friends were surprised to learn that 25 years earlier I'd spent my after-school time crafting my hand-waving skills.

I no longer dream of hand-waving as a career, but I have fond memories of the hours I spent perfecting my skills. And I've still got skills. I'll match 'em against anyone's. Takers?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's dreams that make days worthwhile.

When I was a kid I tried so desperately to hone my ESP skills. I'd sit in the living room, right in front of the window, and concentrate concentrate concentrate. I thought if I tried hard enough I'd be able to crack through the 10% brain use that everyone knew was a Fact.

I've learned since then that our brains are always abuzz with activity and although some people I know truly only use 1-3% of their brain, most everyone else puts the little organ to great use.

But that doesn't mean that my ESP dream should die, and maybe, just maybe your hand-waving practice shouldn't die either. Who knows, when you're Queen of Everything and you need to wave at the throngs of adoring fans lining your carriage route, your parade wave practice sessions will come in very handy.

- Mark

12:23 AM  
Anonymous msb said...

Marilyn, I did not know about your hand-waving thing. I am learning more about you as I go through your blog. Lovin' it.

1:00 AM  

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