Big Fucking Deal

Are Yor There God? It's Me, Margaret

You know that Carrie Fisher novel made into that one-off Meryl Streep comedy, Postcards From the Edge? I don’t know if guys pay attention to these things, but it was a big deal for me and every lady friend of mine with a mother who was not just eccentric but, you know, ready for her close up, Mr. DeMille. The Carrie Fischer-esque heroine gets out of rehab and in order to get hired for her next film must agree to live with her mother and submit to daily drug testing. This is all discussed in her agent’s office with her mother sitting right there and because it’s a question of insurance she can’t negotiate her way out of the terms. She is perturbed, to say the least, and her agent says, “That’s the problem with your generation, you all want instant gratification!” She says something like, “I don’t have a generation and instant gratification takes too long.” And then she moves in with her flamboyant, narcissistic, alcoholic mother…to make sure she won’t take drugs anymore.

Postcards From The Edge

I was able to escape life with my mother, narrowly. But I wound up largely marginalized by a father who would have been more comfortable with a son or, come to think of it, no child at all. About six months after I lost my virginity he came into my room, put a copy of Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) on my bed and told me to let him know if I ever needed condoms. Needless to say my passage into womanhood was not celebrated. And it’s hard for me to blame the guy. Once he took me shopping for a training bra and I don’t know who was more mortified, him or me. Anyway I heard about this girl who had a book about what happens to girls who become women…when they’re still girls…and I knew it was my only hope.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. was loaned to me by the older sister of a girl in my neighborhood and even though the product placement references were 15 years old (Would you be able to define “sanitary belt” without the help of Google?) I received enough guidance in those pages to cope with the major changes happening in my body…despite the fact that I was just an awkward ‘tween trying to piece things together on my own. Seriously, it was 1986 and I was shuffling between media icons like Mr. Rogers and Nancy Reagan (sadly a bit too young for Jello Biafra).

Are Yor There God? It's Me, Margaret

I love Postcards From the Edge and I identified with Susan Vale, the Carrie Fisher-esque heroine, in a lot of ways. Because I had woefully ill equipped parents and because I never felt surrounded by people who could appreciate the deep end of ignorance that left me in (hence none of that talkin’bout my generation type vibe). But the secret that everybody tells you and nobody believes until way later is that somewhere in there all of us were helpless and awkward with our physical bodies and psychological selves. And no matter how good or bad our parenting there was never a surefire answer to all our questions.

There was, however, a star blazing the way and we knew her as Judy Blume. She talked straight, while keeping us turning pages at a fever pitch, about periods, masturbation, sex, bullying, and more than one of the overwhelming self-image issues young women face. And when they banned her books in public libraries she stood her ground. Thank goodness she did because I already have enough to do in therapy.

I only thought to mention all this tonight because I happened to have dinner with her. Randomly, we have a mutual friend. I’m usually a pretty cool customer, but I’ll admit I had to prepare myself to hold back on some serious gushing and I felt a little giddy all day. This surprised me, so I decided to float the 411 on facebook. Immediately the coolest 30-something women I know were atwitter with envy and delight. It’s one thing, I think, to impress an adult; it’s something else entirely to reach out through the page and help a child who doesn’t know how or who to ask for the direction he or she needs. And the latter is never forgotten.

I’m still not sure if I have a generation, but the people who get that last bit…those are most definitely my people.

Hillery

Hillery eventually learned not to say everything that came to mind. Some were too good not to write down.

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