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#41 To Be Yourself is All That You Can Do

One weekend when I was 12 years old, Mom and I found ourselves completely on our own. This was highly unusual so I can only imagine that my older siblings were working and that Dad was on his annual boy’s trip to Scranton, PA. I can't imagine why they chose Scranton and what they did while they were there. Maybe a visit to Dunder Mifflin?

We spent the time cheating on our diets and going to 3 movies in 2 days. We must have racked up thousands of calories, but it was worth it for the quality time with Mom and the important life Hollywood lessons I learned.

Terrifying Illnesses are Rewarded

We started with a movie called 6 Weeks, a weepie starring Mary Tyler Moore and Dudley Moore about a kid with cancer who dreams of being a ballet dancer. A wealthy benefactor pulls some strings with the NYC Ballet and the kid gets to play a mouse in the Nutcracker for 5 minutes before succumbing to her disease.

I think it might have been only the second movie I ever saw with a dying kid. The first was Something for Joey, a classic sports/dying kid movie that was required viewing for Philadelphians in the 70s. It’s based on the true story of the Cappelletti brothers who, it should be noted, lived down the street from my Aunt’s boyfriend. The older one went to the same high school as my brother. So, we’re practically related, is what I’m saying. Anyway, the kid gets his brother’s Heisman Trophy dedicated to him and also gets a movie named after him.

6 Weeks had a profound effect on me and my imagination. For weeks afterward I pretended to be dying as I swanned around my bedroom practicing for my inevitable 5 minutes of ballet glory.

Marriage Can Ruin a Perfectly Good Friendship

As we left the theatre, Mom — who had loved Dudley Moore in Arthur, and was very likely expecting another madcap comedy — said, “Well THAT was depressing. Let’s go see something else.” And we walked right back up to the ticket window and bought a ticket to see Best Friends, a romantic comedy starring Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn as 2 screenwriters who are best friends and lovers who vowed to never marry. But, marry they do and everything goes to hell.

There was definitely some hanky panky in this movie and I still remember one of the jokes:

Goldie (reading Burt’s script): Breasts too large? Do you realize that all of your female characters have "breasts too large"?

Burt (charmingly): Yes, but I make them suffer for it.

I’ve had many male BFFs since I saw this movie and I’ve made sure never to marry any of them. Plus, a bonus lesson: large breasts = eternal suffering!

If You Want to Be Loved, Don't Be Yourself

Mom and I had so much fun on Saturday that she suggested we go out again Sunday afternoon and see the hit comedy sensation, Tootsie.

Tootsie is a crazy comedy starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange and Teri Garr about an out-of-work actor who reinvents himself as a woman and becomes a huge soap opera star. I barely understood the jokes, but seeing a man in a sparkly ladies gown made me giggle and my mother laughed so hard I thought she might pee her pants. I’ve since seen Tootsie many times since (including the unnecessary Broadway musical version) and, once I was old enough to get the jokes, it became a favorite.

I spent years afflicted with “Tootsie Syndrome,” changing my personality, my clothes, my body in the service of being liked and accepted by other people. It took me a long time to realize that who I am is actually my super power. And the people who don’t like or accept my personality, my body, or my clothes aren't really worth knowing anyway.



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