I remember the sound of the movie, the soundtrack, playing like a hopeless romantic lullaby to young 6-year-old ears. This was my introduction into the world of entertainment and hollywood. It was the movie Bed of Roses. OKAY, I realize that at six years old, you probably shouldn’t be watching an idyllic romance about a lonely woman who finds herself with the help of a mysterious florist who delivers her flowers after peering into her window and watching her cry. (Christian Slater at his best.) But to me, the movie was enchanting, mostly because Mary Stuart Masterson had my haircut and there was an actress named Aly. By age seven, I had grand ambitions of being Mary Stuart Masterson, starring in my own movie, and producing and recording the soundtrack.
I wanted to be an actor, a singer, a purveyor of twisted plot lines and quick witted retorts. I wanted to make everyone laugh but not in the way everyone laughed when my brother shoved cake in my face at my fifth birthday party. I wanted to be in all of the televisions!
I had an explosive imagination — I believed I could fly up until about age seven because I would climb my picnic table in the backyard and think really hard as I flapped my arms like bony little girl wings, fooling myself into believing I got a little higher each time. So becoming the female lead in a major motion picture didn’t seem too farfetched — I was already a little obsessed with myself and had already proudly garnered the nickname Ms. Photogenic. The amount of times my mother would explain to me, after I came home crying because the popular girls wouldn’t let in their beanie baby club, “Oh! They’re just jealous of you because you’re so special and beautiful and talented!” may have had something to do with my attitude.
I also had no problem rationalizing my dreams — it is what I wanted to do therefore it would happen (American attitude, much?). Oddly enough, I still have this outlook — If you can’t believe in yourself how do you expect your seventh grade Creative Writing teacher to choose your story for the famed wall of story-telling?
So, I did a lot of things to reach my dreams. Mainly I begged my parents to let me take lots of lessons — I had just learned the word novice from watching Family Feud and it did NOT seem like something I wanted to be. Guitar lessons, or the worst idea for a young girl with bony, child fingers were first and I quit after it hurt my fingers too much to play with my polly pockets. All the while I wrote plays in my journal where I was the star and my older brother’s cute best friend was the male lead. I had my priorities straight at a young age.
After guitar lessons, however, my parents were a little less inclined to drop serious cash to suit the whims of their seven-year-old soon-to-be starlet. Singing lessons were off the table so I’d have to settle for wearing glittery, blue, borderline Show Girl costumes at dance competitions like I was trying out for Toddlers and Tiaras. However, I did get some encouragement from Kaitlin, the overweight girl from down the street I played with before I became a social-standing-obsessed preteen (I’m sorry, Kaitlin). I was singing Mariah Carey’s “Always be My Baby” when Kaitlin looked at me and asked if I took lessons.
“No,” I said, my head inflating with every breath, “you know, I just think raw talent works itself out.” I was an awful ten-year-old egotist with larger than life dreams and a My-Size Barbie to offer emotional support.
Acting didn’t come till middle school (which is also where it ended) when I joined the improv club after school because Mr. G was the hip new teacher and my parents still didn’t take my hollywood hankerings seriously. I pretty much sparked a riot of hilarity with my impression of a person doing the backstroke! It was GOLDEN.
Obviously the next step was to try out for the school musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown with a rendition of Britney Spears’ “Hit me Baby One More Time.” I remember staring into the trash can my entire performance and thinking to myself, I bet Mary Stuart Masterson didn’t have to go through this shit. Britney let me down that day, like she would in a year’s time when my mom, brother, and I went to meet her at Copley Square only to find out she cancelled the performance due to post-Rosie O’Donnell lip-syncing rumors. Apparently, I wasn’t meant to be the next Kristen Chenoweth either.
Chasing boys on the playground, becoming “Aly Dicky” at my new school and the burgeoning prevalence of kids in after school sports overtook my performance pretensions for a while. My writing never stopped, however, and I took every opportunity available to make people laugh — I still can’t believe LaToya beat me out for “Best sense of humor” in high school (she was just louder not funnier).
Although I no longer want to be the next Mary Stuart Masterson — let’s face it, she went way downhill after Fried Green Tomatoes anyway — I still dream of being the woman in the television inspiring a young, quixotic, Tweety bird-obsessed girl (probably more like One Direction obsessed these days) to follow her larger than life dreams no matter how tone deaf she is, no matter how often no one laughs at her jokes, no matter how many times she gets beat out for class clown and no matter how stupid she feels during after school improv class.
Dreams are there for a reason, you idiots, now go do something about it.