Big doings across the pond these days. A new Pope in Vatican City and a bun in the royal oven. It must be peculiar to be in the public eye in such a manner. People pushing and shoving to touch you or to snap your picture. I would hate it. I can’t imagine having to pull myself fully together, make-up, hair, and designer clothes to run out to the store for a pint of buttermilk. No matter what the lifestyle offered in exchange for entering into such a contract with the world, I would never be willing to pay the price of my privacy in order to obtain it.
Looking back, I’m not sure I ever satisfied my alloted fifteen minutes of fame. I did write a newspaper column for nearly two years on cooking. Not sure that counts. The closest I came to stardom was at the ripe old age of five. I was an invited guest on a local children’s television show in Halifax. The show involved a clown as it often did in those days, and several puppets, none of which I recall by name. A new dress with embroidered duckies was purchased for my screen debut. The only recollection (naturally) I have of the experience is an Eskimo Pie handed to me by a crew member. Between the hot lights and my natural grace under fire, when the camera panned to my chubby cheeks I was nearly unrecognizable (perhaps a plus). According to my mother’s oft told version of the events, the lovely embroidered yellow ducklings were totally obscured by the mess of melting chocolate and sea of vanilla ice cream moving down the front of my small person. Wouldn’t you know my only brush with fame would somehow involve food and a hot mess? My mother, always the fashionista, was suitably horrified. I guarantee she was not wearing her party smile when she claimed me immediately following. I’ve always harbored the secret notion at such times in my young life she would gladly have left me by the side of the road with a sign around my neck reading simply “take me”.
This got me to thinking who I know personally who had captured their fifteen minutes in the spotlight. My other half was featured on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News when he obtained his U.S. citizenship. Back in her twenties my mother was a model and regaled the pages of a number of Canadian fashion publications.
A dear friend of mine, Carol also had her day in the sun. She appeared on a morning talk show in San Francisco a number of years ago. Unbeknownst to Carol, her daughter entered in a contest to receive a complete makeover on the air. Along with four other entrants her daughter’s letter won. Although a lovely looking woman, Carol was holding firmly to the Cleopatra hairstyle worn since her eighth grade graduation. Her daughter believed it was time for a change. Carol, a feisty Italian girl, not the least shy of the camera nor hesitant about speaking her mind, agreed to appear. After a briefing from the production manager, the winners were herded on stage in their “before” visages. The show’s host solicited a brief bio from each participant. Introductions made, the participants were then ushered back stage to let the magic begin.
Each winner was assigned a stylist, makeup artist, and hairdresser to aid in effecting their amazing transformations. As Carol tells it, the outfit chosen for her got a thumbs up, the makeup artist did an outstanding job, but the poor bugger from Vidal Sassoon assigned to update her “Cleo-do” had bitten off far more than he could chew. Every time the man approached Carol’s head with a comb and scissors she deflected his hands like a judo master after a double espresso. A half an hour into it and no progress noted, the frustrated stylist stormed out of the studio vowing never to return again. On cue, the revamped participants returned to the stage. Carol entered at the end of the line. “Before” pictures were posted on the screen next to images of the “after” live shots of the now transformed participants. The first four reflected dramatic changes in each person’s look. Arriving at Carol, other than the outfit and a little mascara, she appeared to look exactly the same in the first picture as she did after the makeover. Undaunted, she happily waved at the camera.
Fame perhaps is not for everybody. Look at the headlines over the years following the downfall of rock stars, athletes, and movie stars once they grabbed the gold ring. Again it goes back to the premise, it’s not what happens to you in life, but how you handle what happens to you.
I often think of J.K. Rowling, down on her luck, a small daughter to raise. Out of money and nobody to help her she sat in a coffee shop every day and penned her first Harry Potter book. Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix, I would suppose. What an amazing rise that must have been for her, going from relative obscurity to having the public spotlight shining directly on her. It seems, outwardly at least, she has managed the transformation and all it embodies with grace and style.
Lately I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to be when I grow up. Most of my adult life I’ve worked, taken care of my children, been a wife or a girlfriend, but now, with retirement looming somewhere down the road I turn my thoughts to what I would like to do for the rest of my life. Truly I am thankful because I am rarely bored. Most days I find life offers up new things to think about or to explore and my mind still eagerly looks forward to doing exactly that. My rock stars days are behind me now so loftier thoughts are in order for the future. It’s kind of exciting to contemplate. I’ll let you know what I come up with.
This Russian dressing is my absolute favorite. What I have left over I drizzle on a wedge of iceberg lettuce and garnish with some grape tomatoes and cucumber slices. Yum.
Reuben Sandwiches with Tangy Russian Dressing
8 slices rye bread
1/2 lb. corned beef, very thinly sliced
1 cup sauerkraut, wrung dry of liquid
8 Swiss cheese slices, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter, softened
Russian dressing (recipe below)
Butter one side of four slices of rye bread. Place buttered side down on a griddle or large frying pan. Slather top of each slice with about 1 Tbsp. of Russian dressing. Distribute the sauerkraut evenly among the sandwich bottoms. Top the with corned beef and then Swiss cheese.
Butter one side of the tops of the four remaining slices. Turn over and slather another 1 Tbsp. of Russian dressing on the inside. This step is a bit messy. Place dressing side down on top of sandwiches in pan.
Heat over med-high heat until bottom is golden brown. Gently turn over and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown. Turn heat down to med-low and continue cooking until cheese is melted and gooey. Serves 4.
Tangy Russian Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp. catsup
1 Tbsp. minced yellow onion
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hr. to marry flavors.