the summer when i was eight years old, sandwiched by the youth of second grade and the impending maturity of being in third grade, was stellar. besides the usual summer affairs of a child in the south, we also visited family in southern california.
we crammed as much as possible during that week or so of vacation. we went to disney land and rode the tea cups. we watched the fireworks every night from my great aunt’s back porch. i saw my favorite hollywood star’s names in their stars on the boulevard, and put my hands in maryiln monroe’s. heck, we even ate at our first olive garden, and experienced totally smoke-free dining for the first time.
i didn’t have many expectations for the vacation…except for one. the minute we pulled into the parking lot of universal studios i had only one thing on my agenda.
i was going to be discovered.
maybe it was hearing the story of lana turner, maybe it was all of the sun, or maybe the motion sickness patches i wore on the boat ride out to see the queen mary. all i know was that i was certain that some big time hollywood producer would be walking around the park during a break in filming the next thriller and they’d find me,
charming, dazzling, talented me.
i have to admit, i was basically a triple threat. i could sing, i could act, and i could dance. i had stunning good looks and a sharp wit. i was the quintessential disney dream. so once we got into the park, my big plan began.
for starters, i had to look mature. i needed to pass for at least 11 or 12 so i could straddle both the child and young teen roles. and mature people? well, they sure aren’t walking around universal studios with their parents and grandparents. no. that wouldn’t do. i wasn’t going to let me parents hold me back. so while walking down the streets of the theme park, i kept a solid three foot barrier between my family and myself. three feet was the perfect distance. enough to look independent, and close enough to not get stolen.
BECAUSE WHO WOULDN’T WANT THIS, AMIRIGHT?
the second factor into my plan to stardom was my smile. i had practiced before leaving arkansas, and by the time we hit california i was on FULL SMILE ALERT. so much so that my cheeks strained, leaving my face pinched and sore.
the third and final step in my plan was to draw attention to my superior acting abilities. dramatic, grandiose hand gestures, over the top laughing, and model-esque poses filled every spare second.
unbelievably, after a full day of experiencing universal studios, i left undiscovered. i was completely defeated. my big break had come and gone, and i was staring at a life stuck in arkansas straight in the face.
they never knew what they missed.