Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When I Grow Up

I'm not sure why I am not yet famous. Or at least invited to more parties. As a child I aspired to be an international bon vivant who wore bright red lipstick and tossed her head back with a signature laugh. Though I now know how to pronounce bon vivant the truth is I look like a clown in lipstick and no matter how many glittery, popsicle red glosses I buy I always seem to fall back on cherry flavored Chapstick, hardly lips worthy of crossing international waters.
I wrote my first book at the age of six. Titled "There's No Land Like Maryland," it was the tale of two male ghosts who lived together. In hindsight, they might have been lovers, influenced by the brightly colored capers of Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street. But mainly the book was my own way of working out any disbelief I had that there was an actual state called Maryland. I don't know why this fascinated me so. In my memory, the book was an opus, hundreds of pages the result of me swinging my legs from the kitchen table, writing. In reality it was probably no more than five pages, the result of an afternoon waiting for my mother to get off the phone. The original manuscript has never been found.
Later I wanted to be a runner. My dad was a runner which meant he changed into his silky 70's shorts in the afternoon, tucked his hair beneath a red bandana and disappeared for an hour or so. Carefully I drew a picture of my own sneakers, the ones with the rainbow stripes on the side, and I wrote above it "Susannah Clay Jenkins, Runner," and I hung the sign on my bedroom door next to the ceramic plaque that read "Penny," a remnant of my infatuation with "The Rescuers." I had never run anywhere without fair warning but I thought it sounded like an interesting enough job though I never was sure of the pay scale.
In high school I witnessed the rise of The Supermodel, though I was far too pragmatic to think I could ever do that. Instead I watched Cindy Crawford on "House of Style" every day after class and sketched bad Nagel knock-offs, girls with pouting lips and piercing cocaine-addled eyes. I was going to move to New York and be a fashion designer. I practiced my signature and mouthed the words to George Michael's "Freedom" while driving my Volkwagen Cabriolet, something I am sure a young Isaac Mizrahi did in whatever corn-fed state he grew up in.

I am not sure why it is that by this time in my life David Letterman has not had me on his show. At least for stupid pet tricks. You'd think that I'd have been able to get Nacho to fetch me my slippers by now, but no. My feet are still cold. I have never lived in a foreign country. I speak French poorly and only when drunk. The strangest thing I have ever eaten were turkey nuts, though they were so deep fried that for all I know I was eating deep fried lint from behind the ice machine in the restaurant kitchen. My life, as of now, is ordinary.
Some say that there is no such thing as success or failure, there is just living your life. I am not so sure. I would argue that success is finding the glamour in your life regardless of what you're doing: watching Zoey ring her lips 1001 times over with my cherry flavored Chapstick, tossing my head back and laughing when she does, running because I have rainbows on my feet.
I have never told anyone this last story because I was afraid I would get in trouble, but when I was around eight years old Jason Doolen told me I could not fit a hard boiled egg in my mouth and so I went home intent on proving him wrong. We were out of eggs so I placed a Weeble Wobble in my mouth and swallowed. I gagged. For a full minute I could not breathe and I sank to my knees saddened by the knowledge that my mother would find me dead by Weeble Wobble. But somehow it finally worked its way down my throat and I felt vindicated. See! See Jason Doolen! I can swallow an egg whole! And to this day I still have that Weeble Wobble in my stomach because I don't remember it coming out, surely I would have noticed. I think of this sometimes, the Weeble Wobble and where it went, what it's doing in there, trying to remember which character I swallowed. Was it the postman? The cowboy? A baby? And is it true that it never ever, not even once, falls down?

37 comments:

monkey said...

i so so so badly want you to get an mri. stat.
i wish i could say it was because i was worried for your health.
in truth, i just want to see an x-ray of that weeble wobble bouncing its way through your innards.

Jen said...

I can assure you that having a beautiful family, as you do, is not an ordinary thing. I would hesitate to say YOUR life is ordinary!

Enjoy those pink leotard, Christmas tree, quietly humming moments. Those, my friend, are anything but ordinary!

Jennifer said...

I think swallowing a weeble would be an excellent Stupid Human Trick. I'll call Dave and set it up.

And your life is not ordinary. You have Z, which makes it extraordinary. Don't ever forget that!

Sarah Danielle said...

Shit - you swallowed a weebble wobble?? You might want to get that looked into... just saying - LOL

Misplaced Country Girl said...

Holy cow! A weeble wobble? If that doesn't get you on Letterman I don't know what will. I'd tune in for that!

Kendra plus 2 said...

Your last story sent a sudden spark of inspiration coursing through my body. Just what exactly is that Weeble Wobble doing now? It could be the next hot thing, like Harry Potter, only with intestines and stomach acid. If you do a flip does it stay upright?
Can I just say I'm glad you're still around. Death by Weeble would have robbed us of such talent. Oh and btw, it would make a terrific 10th chapter or so.

betsy said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to blog everyday! It's one of the highlights of my day. Once again, you never fail to give me something to laugh about or think about. I wonder if when you swallow a Weeble Wobble you become one with the Weeble Wobbles and are now assured of never falling down yourself.

Melissa said...

I can't believe you swallowed a Weeble.

zakary said...

Holy Shit, that is the best thing I have read in a long time.

I put a whole pack of Wrigley's Spearmint(chewed) up my nose when I was 8 and I got in a shit ton of trouble and a trip to the doctor.

I can't chew it to this day.

Aartee said...

A stray weeble wobble inside of you?? That can't be good!! LOL

Meghan H said...

Wait.
Bert and Ernie are gay??

Oh Brother! said...

Duuuuuude! That was MY Weeble Wobble! I had been looking for the Police Officer for God knows how long.

Ok, maybe not.

Say, you should ask Zoey; she'd be the last person who might have seen it :)

-brother

Robin said...

You are far from ordinary, and I mean that in the best possible way. For the love of god, you swallowed a weeble wobble! I better get my laughing out now because I have a 3 hour yoga workshop tonight and I don't want to think of this post & have a giggle fit during meditation.

mrlfvl said...

This post totally struck a chord with me...I subscribe to your blog and I love your stories, and I am pretty sure your beautiful little Zoey will marry my precious little man, V. The Weeble reference - hysterical...but tell me this...do you remember the Tree Tots???

Erin said...

You let Jason Doolen peer pressure you??

Kwana said...

Who are you lady? Are you me over there? Saying these things? Ordinary you are not. You are AMAZING!!
That Weeble story stopped my heart for a moment. What you are is incredibly talented and a very gifted writer. Just saying.

cybill said...

I read your blog but I don't comment very often, but I justed wanted you to know that you are famous to me and I look forward to your 'blogshow' every day!

amber {daisy chain} said...

Now this, miss M, I did not know about you. You really swallowed it down? I'm totally impressed.

Good Enough Woman said...

Your life is definitely not ordinary. First, your writing is extra-ordinary. Second, you recently showed us pictures of your mom's place. If those pictures are authentic, then your life can't be ordinary. ;)

Megan said...

I'm laughing out loud, really hard! I really can't believe that you swallowed a weeble-wobble! That is so great! ER, a great story. My mom and dad still have our weeble-wobble airport and vacation trailer, but no weeble-wobbles. Someone must've quietly swallowed them all.

I love your childhood aspirations, and wish I could have read your book, I'm sure it was a corker.

Vanessa said...

The thing I find so crazy is that you really don't seem average or like a failure at all. We always see ourselves differently than others, but you're a talented writer and I look forward to reading what you have to say every day. When my own blog is finally up and running next week, you can read all about someone who REALLY doesn't have a clue about life. Should make you feel better :-)

jane said...

oh my gosh. so funny. not ordinary. where is that weeble? now i wanna know.

Patois said...

Remember: Weeble Wobbles don't fall down. Nobody said nothing about them not going down.

Sarah's Fab Day said...

Coming here makes me laugh. A whole Weeble Wobble?? I was just explaining to my son why his uncle, my younger brother is still called Weeb. Because he was such a chubby baby he looked a lot like one of those egg like charecters.

Monkey said...

That weeble wooble story might just be the best thing ever! I'm so glad I found your blog through the other monkey's comments!

Judy said...

First, I have to tell you that I had to make an emergency hair appointment with Addison due to the influx of a large, new batch of gray hairs on my head as a result of the Weenle-Wobble swallowing and near-death experience so slyly and eloquently described in this post.

You are a BAD girl! There is only one Karmic satisfaction to be savored from this...one night soon it will dawn on you that one day, when you don't know it, never anticipated it, Zoey will try something like this and it will only be many years later when you find out...maybe reading one of her novels. Even then, your adrenaline will pump through your system making it hard to catch your breath when you realize that, of all the fears you had and all the safety precautions you took, she still did things that would have scared the pants off you had you only known!

And, if my memory serves to take me back to the Dark Ages of my grade school playground youth...long before people "punked" each other and a joke was still a knee-slapper, the entire POINT of daring someone to try to put a whole egg in their mouth, was that the outcome would be that the naive punkee would end up with raw egg and shells in their mouth! NOWHERE was it mentioned that the dare involved SWALLOWING the egg-or Weeble=Wobble as it were!

I will try to get my hair touched up before Xmas. And I love you even if I now picture you with Andy's, by now, acid-etched, partially-digested Weeble-Wobble Policeman bobbling around somewhere in your GI tract.

Older Than Before I Read Your Post,
Mom

Claire said...

"Famous" has so many meanings - you should read the poem by Naomi Shihab Nye titled "Famous" - it will reinforce what others have said (and I agree!) about your being famous to us, your loyal readers.

Petunia Face said...

Claire--thanks for the poem suggestion. I looked it up and it's stunning! Here is the link if anyone is curious:
http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems/poem.html?id=177521

Thank you all,
Susannah & the Weeble Wobble

JackeeG4glamorous said...

OMG! You must be so proud! Weebles are BiG! First let me say, EEWWWWW. Second, Don't you wonder where it is now?
I used to accidentally swallow things as a kid, but I remember 99% of them making thier way out.

You are so very interesting.
My first novel was written at the tender age of 9 or ten and involved me running away from home and surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a shack in the woods raising a litter of puppies. It was uncommonly good-and I kept it in "editing" for a year or so, my mother read it and made fun (she called it laughing with you) of it so I destroyed the only copy.

jlisaash said...

Hey weeble wobble--you're insanely talented and the only reason you're not famous yet is because your talent has possibly kept you from finishing that novel you've been working on (I will assume, that you, like me, have at least one or two novels you've been working on the last ten years since I've seen you. I have two) because you just don't think they are good enough. That's my crippling problem. But in reality anything that spills from your lips IS good enough. So finish the damn thing and get an agent. (Can you tell I'm giving myself the same pep talk as I type?) Much love and thanks for entertaining us with your wit and talent....xoxo

MJ said...

Susannah Clay Jenkins!!!!!
You ARE a bad girl!

Holy crap I'm crying from laughing so hard...and your brother shot me a look of death, super pissed that you swolled his weeble wobble. I'm taking you to get that removed pronto!

Love your Sis

MJ said...

Susannah Clay Jenkins!!!!!
You ARE a bad girl!

Holy crap I'm crying from laughing so hard...and your brother shot me a look of death, super pissed that you swallowed his weeble wobble. I'm taking you to get that removed pronto!

Love your Sis

Stefanie said...

You are so so funny. Did we meet at Blogher? If so, was I really drunk? I'm putting you on my blogroll.

Petunia Face said...

Hi Stefanie,
We probably didn't meet at Blogher unless of course you were in the bathroom stall with me on Sunday morning eating cantaloupe (although I think I would've remembered that). I totally chickened out and only went to the last day.

Anyway, thanks for you comment. I LOVE your blog, have been reading it forever, and just might love your books even more. I swear that if I ever sign up for Blogher again I will bring a bottle of courage and go. :)

Thanks,
Susannah

crabapple said...

Hi Susannah-

I live in Maryland, and yes, it is real, and you are famous to at least one person here. I plan on spreading your fame here by forwarding on this blog post. It made me laugh. hard.

liz.mccarthy said...

OMG, this made me just burst out laughing (after I read you were ok) with your weeble wobble experience. It made me remember a time when my baby brother (5 years younger than I) was smelling pepper corns (I have no idea why he was smelling them in the first place), he ended up "snorting" a few pepper corns and my mom had to take him to the ER!

Just came across your blog, thanks for the good laugh!

Miss Lady Finger said...

Aaaahhh ha ha ha ha! That is the most hilarious story I've read in a long time xxx