of you may remember Buffy from the '60s TV show, Family Affair.
Well, because of that show, at least in my family, pigtails were
called Buffys. I think my Southern mother found the term much more
appealing, considering a pig's tail resides just above the hole
where it does its business. So the TV characters Cindy Brady and
Buffy inspired my mom to keep my hair in perfect curly-que Buffys
most of my young life. Every night just before bed, Mom would ever
so methodically roll my hair into pink foam rollers, never missing
father, who art in heaven, ouch!"
Melanie, for heaven's sake it doesn't hurt that bad!"
at a very early age that beauty hurts and get over it.
I was 26, I got let go from my job on Saturday Night Live
and all I could think of to do was to head back home to Tennessee,
rent a cabin on the river, and figure out where the heck to go from
there. Just a few days after I got the news about SNL, I received
a call for a job opportunity -- to be the next spokesperson for
Jenny Craig! With a can of Slim Fast in hand, I couldn't believe
they were asking me. How dare they? Did my healthfully zaftig size
10 body really merit this invitation? I had taken such pride in
the fact that I was a girl with a normal body right there on TV.
Had no one noticed? I learned at a very young age in my acting career
that showbiz hurts and get over it. But at that time in my life,
the place where my sadness was really stemming from was the fact
that I had not found love. In Tennessee years, 26 was just about
too late. So I had my dad over to ask his advice.
right before he showed up, I was trying to make garlic bread in
a stove that probably hadn't been used since 1975. The awful '70s
décor hadn't been touched either. Yeah! '70s décor
in a cabin! Not to mention the baby blue, satin Farah Fawcett pillowcase
in the bedroom. Which was stained. When the stove wasn't heating
I thought, "Oh well, I'll just light a match." Boom! I
literally was knocked in the air onto my tailbone. The hideous,
olive green and orange macramé wall hanging flew right off
the fake wood paneling. I chose to bypass the small fire on the
mustard shag carpet, heading straight to the bathroom to see what
the explosion had done to my face. First things first! My bangs
were frizzy and standing straight up, and my eyebrows had been singed
right off. The Whoopi Goldberg look did not serve me well.
then there was a bang on the door. Off I went, stomping out the
remains of the small fire on the way. When I opened the door, to
my surprise, it was a guy I recognized from high school. Sandy Ledbetter!
He had always looked rather elfin, with a boyish angular face and
pointy ears. He was a tiny little thing, no bigger than a minute.
He still looked the same as ever, with the exception of a small,
but prominent, potbelly. But who was I to judge? He was looking
back at a woman with no fucking eyebrows. His voice was like one
of the little people from Munchkinland, only with a thick southern
accent, a la Ernest T. Bass from The Andy Griffith Show,
or for those of you who remember the voice from Jimmy Dean's sausage
commercial, the little cartoon of a hillbilly that said, "Take
home! A package! Of Tennessee Pride!"
is that you? Somebody tohd me you had come here for the summer.
I live two cabins down and thought you done blowed the place up.
Are you okay?"
I'm fine. It's good to see you. You haven't changed a bit."
sure enjoyed you on Saturday Night Live!"
voice kept getting louder and louder. Did he think I had gone deaf
from the explosion or what?! "WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW, MELANIE?!"
God my dad showed up. Intimidated by my dad's football player physique,
Sandy left in a flash yelling out, "Holler if you need anything,
Melanie! We've got a case of Natural Lite if you git thirsty!"
expounding on how lucky I was to be alive, Dad and I sat down to
a dinner of salad and lunch meat, with the smell of gas still lingering
in the air. So here we were, sitting at a tiny little metal parlor
table that made my dad look giant and uncomfortable, but he had
never been one to complain. As I stared out of the screened-in porch
at the Little Tennessee River, watching the thousands of sun rays
rippling through the trees and dancing furiously on the water, I
said, "So Dad, why do you think I haven't found love yet?"
also tell you that at that time, I had been taking lessons on feminism
from my good friend, Miss Jill Soloway, and I was going through
quite the bohemian phase -- sporting a one size fits all, army green
and pee yellow tie-dyed dress and not a stitch of make-up, not even
a coat of lip gloss. In fact, I recall a moment at Mom and Dad's
house right before heading up to the cabin, when my mother chased
me with a tube of coral lipstick. "Just a little color Melanie!"
With every syllable her voice would go up another octave, "Oh,
Honey, why? Please!" Her voice got much smaller when she realized
I was not giving in. "Have a little pride."
I am about to say may not make sense to most. But in addition to
my mother's love for hair and make-up, right there in Maryville,
Tennessee, this woman who was once crowned Miss Hilltop in high
school and was even head cheerleader, was also a natural born feminist
without even really knowing it, always pushing me towards independence
and being my own woman. Neither she nor my dad ever said a negative
word to me about my weight, which has been more empowering than
anything. But back to that yearning question, "Why do you think
I haven't found love yet?"
first my dad completely evaded the question, sounding like a sweaty
preacher in mid-sermon, "Now why would Lorne Michaels hire
that Ja-neen Girraffe-alow over you? I don't get it! And doesn't
she already have a movie career anyway?"
friends back in Hollywood and New York had asked me the same question.
No one, including me, would have guessed that Janeane, with her
mask of dry wit and cynicism, could possibly have had a dream to
be on SNL. But I felt desperate to get him back to the topic at
hand. "Dad! We're talking about my love life here! I mean,
I've had all of this excitement around me, and no one to share it
he got quiet and intense. "Now Mel, you're not going to like
this, but you need to start wearing some make-up. What with yer
lipsticks and yer eye shadows and yer blushers. And I believe if
I were you
I'm just going to say it -- Buffys!"
Put your hair in Buffys! Now listen to me! If you do all of that,
I guaren-dern-tee you, you're going to find yourself a man!"
pretty sure there were a handful of prostitutes in downtown Knoxville
that were having plenty of luck with this look.
PAGE 1 2
version for easy reading
material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission|