Who Would I Like to Be?
Way back in 1979, when I was just a little girl (yeah, I wish!), I took a humor writing class at Boston’s Emerson College. It was taught by Sybil Adelman, a woman who was living my dream. Many years before, she had been Carl Reiner’s secretary (I, too, had once been a secretary!). Sybil later become a writer for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Northern Exposure, Growing Pains, Maude, and several other hit sitcoms of the day. (Another coincidence! I, too, wrote many TV sitcom scripts — also for Mary Tyler Moore, as well as The Bob Newhart Show, Mash, One Day at Time, and Rhoda! Unfortunately, none of mine were ever produced.)
One week Sybil asked us to write an essay on who we would like to be. The following was my answer. (I wrote this in 1979, remember, so please forgive the outdated references. For one, some of you may not have recently seen on screen the Academy-award-winning actress, Joanne Woodward, who was married to the late Paul Newman. And if you don’t remember Paul Newman, you don’t know what you missed.)
WHO I WOULD LIKE TO BE
Who would I like to be? God! Hold it! That’s not my answer — it’s just an exclamation. Not that it isn’t an interesting possibility, but there’s no way I’m going to take the rap for creating this messed-up universe. Also, I’m rather fond of the concept of the four-day work week; and if you’re God, you get only the seventh day off.
You know who I’d really like to be? Joanne Woodward. But if I can’t be Joanne Woodward, then I’d like to be the other woman in her divorce case.
And if I can’t be that, I’d like to be Sybil Adelman. Why? Because she probably knows Paul Newman. Also, because she no longer has to sharpen Carl Reiner’s pencils. (Come to think of it, I don’t have to sharpen Carl Reiner’s pencils either; so Sybil and I still have a lot in common.)
Maybe I just want to be me — only young, pretty, rich, and famous. Regrettably, the only one of those attributes I’ve ever had in my life was youth. And George Bernard Shaw was so right. It was wasted on me. I was much too young to appreciate it.
Okay. No more kidding around. I’ll tell you what my real fantasy is — if you’ll promise not to breathe a word to Gloria Steinem. I’d like to be a sex symbol. Who am I kidding? It’s way too late for that, so I’d settle for being someone who can ice skate (on the blades instead of my ankle bones), or who can swim more than three strokes without sinking, do the latest dance steps without looking like a sneaker in the dryer, play a mean game of tennis, or even someone who can gargle without gagging.
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