There are a number of people who have been heros in my life. People who I thought I wanted to be. Or be like. For example, from the time I read my first Judith Viorst book, “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day,” she has been one of my role models and I would say, heros. She wrote that book when she lived on Q Street N.W. in Washington, about 3 doors down from where we lived and Seth was consumed and comforted by the idea that Alexander was his neighbor and often had the same kind of days.
I then discovered that Judith wrote poems and books for adults. It's what I thought I should do. I loved her thinking about life love and growing old. It was so Me – but I’ll get to that. Some of my favorite Viorst quotes about those topics have been the following:
“When he is late for dinner and I know he must be either having an affair or lying dead in the street, I always hope he's dead”
“You end up as you deserve. In old age you must put up with the face, the friends, the health, and the children you have earned.”
“You know you're getting old when you look at a beautiful 19-year-old girl and you find yourself thinking, "Gee, I wonder what her mother looks like”
When I worked for USA Networks the job required travel to the coast. It was a time when corporate big shots could still fly first class without having to create some kind of disability. I met wonderful people on these flights. Like the violinist Boyd Tinsley, from Dave Matthews band. We had flown on a small plane from Telluride to Denver. The flight was really rough and while I didn’t notice many people, I noticed Boyd because he was tall, wore lots of beautiful leather and had the most fabulous manicured hair. By the time we landed and were surprisingly still alive, it was time for the flight to DC. I took a deep breath, looked forward to lots of big drinks, got into my not so luxurious, first class seat and much to my surprise, Boyd was sitting next to me. I had no idea who he was – I often don’t know who anyone is, so I began our conversation by asking him how he spent his day. I find that much less elitist than 'what do you do?' — especially for women. But he said he played music and I thought maybe on a street corner. By the time we landed we were great friends and I told him my kids were great fans. He offered me concert tickets and I offered him seats to the US Open. It was terrific to recount the story to Seth and Jordan, who agreed I was a dope. Then on another trip I sat with Golden Girl Bea Arthur – who reads tons of movie and trash magazines when she flies. We laughed about everything and I introduced her to the "New York Observer". But my best seatmate on a trip from DC to LA was my hero, Judith Viorst. We had a wonderful bonding flight and agreed that since the food was apt to be terrible, we would skip right to the hot fudge sundae dessert. We had many of them.
Well I have never been able to write like Judith. And despite the things we have in common, I will never reach her stature, but I had always pictured myself as having a kind of Judith Viorst like personality. I was wrong. While it is true that she is wonderfully entertaining, smart, clever and devoted to her family, she was not zany. And for a long time I thought I was zany(not crazy) but couldn’t define it. People in Washington always describe me as zany. I have never liked it much because if you live in Washington, people think that means flighty bordering on nuts. Then the other day I met my dear friend Kathleen for breakfast at the Mclean Family Restaurant. It’s the closest thing to a New Jersey diner that we have in Northern Virginia. We go there because they serve grits with the eggs. OK it is Virginia and almost anywhere you go they have grits, but this place is owned by Greeks and feels like a NJ diner relocated in a strip mall instead of some silver pretend place where they offer gourmet fare. So we were talking about some idea I had that involved something outrageous (I don’t remember what because it is an everyday occurrence) and she looked at me and said, “you know, you are eternally colorful.”
I loved that. Let’s be honest, I am simply too old to be adorable, too opinionated to be sweet, too wacky to be subtle, and too irreverent to be pleasant. But this description was totally flattering and such a good way to describe who I think I am without either overstating the obvious or being dismissive about the possible.
Anyway, I find it’s nice to be comfortable about who you are and even nicer when you can find a few easy words to describe yourself in a way that makes you smile. I hadn’t thought about it as an exercise and OK I didn’t do it for myself, but it’s fun as game you play with friends or yourself. For Gods sake, don’t do any soul searching but take a few minutes and see if you can do it. All I can tell you is am a much happier person now than I was a few days ago, because I am know who and what I am. I is eternally colorful. We’re just sayin...Iris