A friend and fellow blogger (Lois Alter Mark from Midlife at the Oasis) was recently tasked with writing her own eulogy for “Blogger Idol“. I read her piece and the other entries with great interest. I momentarily thought that I, too, might engage in this writing exercise, you know, for the amusement of others.
Then I thought better of it — mainly because I’m Irish and everyone knows that the Irish are a morbid people. The “Irish wake” notwithstanding, we get kind of morose around death. We invented “keening” for crying out loud! The Irish wake isn’t so much about celebrating the life of the deceased anyway, it’s more an event that provides a distraction from thinking about one’s own mortality and serves up an opportunity to get knackered on some fine whisky. Really, that’s what it is. My Irish family doesn’t go in for that sort of thing. We wallow in our moroseness. We don’t keen, but we come very close.
I was also afraid that if I participated in this writing assignment and chose to go about it in my usual, humorous way that I might take self-deprecation to a whole new level. Because, honestly, I try to avoid at all costs spending a nanosecond of my time thinking about how I am perceived by others in any real way. I am truly that self-involved. As a result of my complete and utter lack of a soul-searching nature, I decided that the piece would really have to be funny. Usually funny is good, but the danger of a funny eulogy is that it can descend into something ridiculous — and, really, who would want to read that? Or, for that matter, write it?
The other pitfall to writing your own eulogy — even a funny one — is that your family would take the easy way out and USE it at your funeral. Then, of course, you’d never have any idea what nice things other people might have had to say about you.
The eulogy was out, but I couldn’t get the IDEA of it out of my head — something about the whole enterprise stuck with me. I began to think about how I could make something of this nature work without it coming off as self-aggrandizing AND without leaving a pre-written eulogy conveniently lying around for my lazy family to read aloud at my funeral. And then it hit me. Who among us hasn’t practiced their Academy Award acceptance speech more than a few times? Don’t lie. You know you’ve done it!
I’d like to share with you what I would say if I were to win The Academy Award in the Best Actress category (I have others, Best Screenplay from an Original Work, Best Song, and the always underappreciated Oscar for Best Sound Editing, but those will have to wait for another day.)
First, I want you to imagine me in a hot little fuschia number — I look awesome in jewel tones. I’m thinking something with a fitted bodice and a tulle skirt — just sheer enough to show a little leg, but not so sheer as to be considered trampy or — God Forbid! — land me on “The Worst Dressed” list. You know what I mean? I’m sure there would also be a smattering of diamonds strategically sewn onto the tulle — to catch the light and to draw attention to my fabulous leopard print Jimmy Choos — and, no, they wouldn’t be crystals or rhinestones. They would definitely be diamonds. No Academy Award-nominated actress would be caught dead in crystals or rhinestones. Don’t you people know anything about how Hollywood works?
Once my name was called and I demonstrated an appropriate amount of surprise (but, really, they’d have to be crazy to give it to Meryl AGAIN! What is she, 80 now?) I would turn and hug my companion (George Clooney, of course) and acknowledge my castmates (smiling graciously, yet haughtily, over at Jessica Chastain won’t kill me — even if she is a stuck-up redhead with a borderline personality disorder). I would then glide to the stage, lifting my skirt ever so slightly — both so that I wouldn’t trip over it and to insure that everyone could take note of the to-die-for shoes. I’d take the statuette from Denzel or Leonardo and this is what I would say:
I’d like to thank the Academy.
[It would be nice if I could leave this part out, but really, how can you? It's boring, but it's requisite. I wouldn't want to go down in Academy Award history as the bitch who didn't thank "the Academy". Talk about a surefire way to NEVER get a second Oscar!]
I’d like to thank my late husband, whose insurance money made it possible for me to have the surgery and the lipo that were necessary for me to live out my dream of making it here in Hollywood. He wouldn’t have been happy about the breast reduction, but the girls sure are perkier now.
[This is where I would kiss the little gold bugger, hold it aloft, run a hand over my new boobs, and look heavenward --- paying my teary-eyed tribute to dear, departed Fang.]
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my daughter, the lovely Fangette. How could anyone ever hope to play this complex, very Medea-like character without having had the experience of child-rearing herself? Acting can only take you so far — some things require life experience.
Fangette couldn’t be here tonight because, well, I chose George over her. Wouldn’t you? Only a crazy person would give up the opportunity to be on the arm of George Clooney. And, regardless of what you may have heard, I am not crazy.
Also, Fangette, remember that time that you wouldn’t run me over to the store to grab my Power Ball tickets and that bottle of Diet Coke I was jonesing for? In the rain? Who knows? We might’ve been big winners. Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it? Let that be a lesson to all of you children out there. Be nice to your mother, you never know when you’ll be left behind at an internationally televised event!
[George and the rest of the audience would, of course, find this hysterical --- I have no idea whether Fangette would share in their enthusiast laughter, but her reaction couldn't be further from my mind at the moment --- the Jimmy Choo's may be stunning, but they hurt like hell! Knowing Fangette as I do, it's possible that she skipped the broadcast altogether, in favor of a rerun of "Sponge Bob Squarepants".]
I think you’d all agree that turning in an Oscar-worthy performance doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I’d like to thank my director and my co-stars for their support. Frankly, after that incident at ‘Hooters’, I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had never spoken to me again. But, really, ‘Hooters’ DOES NOT have the ‘best’ wings — not that the waitress should have, in any way, been held responsible for that. I realize that now. But, really, Ang, I think that lifetime ban may have done you a favor. You were starting to pack on the pounds. And, let’s be honest, you may be getting a little long in the tooth to be hanging at ‘Hooters’. Maybe YOU should be thanking ME!
Speaking of Ang — he took a considerable risk and no small amount of criticism for casting me — a Caucasian woman from New Jersey — in the role of an overwhelmed Jamaican immigrant with seventeen children — all living in an actual shoe. Originally I thought that getting the accent down would be the hard part, but climbing in and out of that giant shoe in the fat suit was, at the end of the day, the more arduous task. I did enjoy watching the kids slide down the laces, though. Yeah, that looked like fun!
Once I got used to them, I loved the dreds. I think the look suited me. I would have kept them, but George had other ideas.
There have been, along the way, many people who supported and encouraged me. I could go all the way back to my middle school drama teacher, whose name eludes me at the moment, but whose advice to “ENUNCIATE” has stayed with me all these years. To be honest, it served me well, this advice, more in my previous restaurant career — yelling at cooks whose first language was NOT English — than it has in filmmaking.
Ang actually had to break me of the habit — “YELLING IS NOT ACTING!” — REMEMBER THAT, ANG? Making the transition from restaurant kitchen to the big screen was rather difficult for me. Thank the good Lord that Ang is a patient man — and that he needed the money that I put up to make this movie. Otherwise, I fear that I would have been out on my fat suit-clad keister by day three.
New Jersey has a long history of filmmaking. Did you know that the first movie studio was in New Jersey? It was. Owing, I suppose, to Edison’s invention and innovations in moving picture technology. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you how expensive an enterprise filmmaking has become, do I? No. What you folks at home may not realize is how important a role New Jersey still plays in the movie industry. Mainly its involvement is on the business end — lots of guys from New Jersey invest in Hollywood movies — guys known mainly by nicknames — nicknames like Joey Bagadonuts, Louie the Hand, Mikey Cadillac, and, of course, there are the Tony’s and the Tommy’s — Tony C., Tony D., Tommy G., and Tommy Two-Fingers, to name a few.
What? You thought I put up my OWN money?
I see you down there, Bill, getting ready to queue up the music — put that baton down for a second, would ya? This is probably the one and only time I’ll be up here and I’m going to make it count.
My parents always told me to work hard — that hard work was its own reward. Well, that’s not entirely true, but it certainly sounds good, doesn’t it? I toiled for years in relative obscurity, waiting tables and tending bar, but at the end of the day it’s really the plastic surgeon that I have to thank for this little guy — no one would have looked twice at me without HIS handiwork! Don’t worry, Ladies, I have BUCKETS of his cards in my bag. See me at the after parties, I’ll hook you up!
Finally, I’d like to thank my friends — you all know who you are. While I suspect that some of you would have liked to see me fall flat on my face, to you I say: stay tuned because in these shoes it still may happen. As for the rest of you — well, you’ve been super. Just super! If I can make off with more than one of those bags of bling that I understand are backstage somewhere, I’ll be sending you all some tooth whitening and waxing coupons — white and hairless, that’s the new tan and trim!
[This is where I turn on my very high heel and glide effortlessly --- much to the chagrin of my frenemies --- off stage to score some well-deserved swag!]
NOTE: It’s a shame that I had to kill off Fang, but we all must make sacrifices in the name of art. Fang understands. At this writing, he is, as far as I can tell, alive, well, and watching baseball while wrapped in his favorite afghan.
PHOTO CREDIT: Oscarish Statuette