How Mickey Mouse Saved My Life — And Vice Versa
I knew I had an obsession with food decades ago when I suddenly realized that the main reason I was looking forward to a movie starring Paul Newman (who was absolutely gorgeous back then) was because it would give me an excuse to inhale an industrial size bucket of popcorn (with extra butter).
That was a sure sign I needed professional help; and since I couldn't afford a personal nutritionist or a shrink, I decided to join a weight loss group. My mother was horrified when she heard the news. Better I should have announced I was entering the world's oldest profession. "Why don't you just slash your wrists," she suggested. "It's quicker." We couldn't discuss it further because she had to leave to plan my funeral.
In Mom's defense, I must explain that she wasn't a fat faddist who thought everyone needs at least twenty extra pound to ward off the plague. It's just that she never got over my scrawny childhood when I was the world's finickiest eater and she was convinced I would die of malnutrition before my fifth birthday. I would have made Morris the cat look like a glutton, except he wasn't around until later, when he achieved fame in TV commercials for refusing to nibble anything except the sponsor's overpriced gourmet cat food.
Mickey Mouse was around back then though, which was fortunate, because he saved my life. It seems I wouldn't swallow a morsel until Mom convinced me that Mickey would be devastated and die of sorrow unless I took "just one more bite."
You must understand that this was a long time before Mickey was luxuriating at his palatial palaces in Disneyland and Disney Worlds around the globe. Back then he was just a poor little creature who only made a weekly appearance in the Sunday funnies. With not much going for him, he seemed much more vulnerable; and I truly believed that if I didn't please him by eating at least some of my breakfast, lunch and dinner, he would pine away from sadness.
Well, Mickey survived, and so did I. I grew older and less picky (i.e., I would eat anything that didn't move) and, inevitably, heavier. That damn mouse did too good a job! But Mom (and everyone else) still perceived me as skinny because my thin face belied the excess padding on the rest of my bones. So she wasn't really worried about what she considered my ridiculous plan to join the weight loss club. She was sure they wouldn't even let me in the door. "They'll take one look at you and laugh," she predicted. She was mistaken. Nobody even snickered. They told me to lose seventeen pounds. It was a struggle, but I did it. And much to my mother's surprise, I didn't fade away and die. She never came out and admitted she was wrong; but after that, whenever I went to dinner, she didn't set the Mickey Mouse plate at my place.
Mickey and I are the same age, only he doesn't look it. You can't tell me he hasn't had a lot of work done — and I'm not just talking Botox. Also, he has achieved so much more than I have. Just about everyone in the world knows and loves him. He's still making a ton of money; and, unlike me, I'm sure he's socked enough away to insure his financial security forever. Ironically, though he's a mouse, I'm the one still running the rat race, trying to keep the wolf from my door. It seems I have more in common with the Three Little Pigs than with that well-heeled rodent who's up to his famous ears in royalties and ignoring me completely. Not that I begrudge his good fortune, but wouldn't you think he'd show a little gratitude and send me a check now and then? After all, I did save his life. Yes, I realize he returned the favor, but still. . .
I even went to visit him once at his digs in Florida, and he acted like he didn't even know me — treated me just like one of the crowd of his adoring fans who were always clustered around him. Did he offer me complimentary hotel accommodations or even a free ride on It's a Small World? No. Nothing.
When I think of all the food I forced down my throat and the life-long weight control problem I developed just to make Mickey happy, and this is the thanks I get. I'm really surprised. I can't help but wonder if one of his pals became jealous of our relationship and turned him against me.
I smell a rat. And her name is Minnie.
Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.