Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Naked Ambition

The following appears in the June edition of Chicago Parent.

There have been countless times where I wished I had not grown up in the 1970s and 1980s. My biggest complaint? I never won anything. There were no trophies for 8th place. I did not get ribbons for participation. While my older brother’s award shelf was crowded with basketball and track trophies, mine was a lonely little island holding a medal from the 5th grade Bible Bowl and a “Perfect Attendance” certificate printed on Ditto paper.

If I was not such a competitive person, this would have been a non-issue. Yet I craved victory so much that I once ditched my volleyball-deficient best friend in gym class to play for a team with a better shot at Junior High PE supremacy.

Recently, a miracle happened. I actually won something. The Parenting Media Association bestowed a national Gold Award on this column (see write-up in Beverly Review HERE). Fancy PhDs and college professors christened me awesome. I patiently awaited the inevitable glory and paparazzi this would most certainly bring.

Sure enough, the phone rang. It was someone representing Steve Harvey. I was stoked. My kids and I love Family Feud. The producers were probably casting nationally recognized columnists for an upcoming taping.

The conversation went along the lines of:

Producer: So we’re doing lingerie make-overs for moms and we think you’d be great!

Me: You want me to wear a thong on The Feud?

Producer: No, this isn’t for The Feud. This is for the Steve Harvey Show. And everything will be extremely tasteful!

Me: So tasteful garter belts? Got it. Are you aware I’ve had three c-sections and gallbladder surgery? I possess the muscle tone of a sloth.

Producer: NOT A PROBLEM. We will make you look stunning!

My mind whirled. Was this the normal progression to international acclaim and fortune? Perhaps donning some rhinestone slippers and a sheer teddy was the backdoor entrance into a three-book publishing deal with Simon & Schuster? The Steve Harvey guy did say they wanted moms to feel beautiful. I was a mom and I definitely wanted to feel beautiful! It all made sense.

Right as I was about to agree to the show, I remembered a few key points:

  • I have pretty much slept in my husband’s boxers and a tank top for 12 years. Lingerie itches.
  • My kids go to Catholic school. I would never be able to look Sister Jean in the eye again.
  • My husband works in a Chicago firehouse. This sort of thing would get mileage for YEARS.
  • Two words: SCREEN SHOT. Me in a bustier would live forever. They would probably show it at my 50th wedding anniversary.
For once, I completely set aside ambition and the desire to win by any means necessary. After turning down the opportunity, the producer was very gracious and understanding. I mumbled something about saving face with the PTA crowd.

I am not positive as to when exactly it happened, but I have definitely lost my old bravado and willingness to try anything. Missing out on this experience did not feel as much like a loss as I dreaded it would. I guess in many ways, I have already won everything important.

It took 41 years, but my trophy shelf is full.

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