In spite of short legs, a few too many pounds, and a big head, I am vain. There’s no point in denying it or pretending otherwise. When I was a pre-pubescent girl on a collision course with boy crazy, I gobbled up the amnesia cases, dream sequences, and partner swapping of All My Children. That’s when I first saw her. She rivaled Sophia Loren for the most beautiful woman I had ever beheld, and I wanted to look just like her. Susan was a take-no-prisoners force of nature when I was singing Rubber Ducky with my five-year-old. Years later, armed with too many glasses of wine, a case of Girl Scout cookies, and only one American TV channel, I welcomed her into my living room in Spain. Mi casa es su casa.
Susan never aged, never had a bad hair day, and never got a pimple. An acquaintance once told me that I looked like “that soap opera star.” I could scarcely draw enough breath to ask, “Do you mean Susan Lucci?”
“No that other one,” she snorted. “I can’t remember her name.”
When otherwise literate people snort, it’s time to take up llama herding in Peru. I have never forgotten the crushing sense of disappointment and humiliation.
I never cheated in school, so I didn’t want to copy off Susan, but 10 or 15 years later a pair of earrings that she wore were still haunting me, I figured that the statute of limitations on copycat accessorizing had passed. It was longer than I had waited before adopting Linda Evans’ “Dynasty” hairstyle. My kids look at pictures of me from that time period with absolute horror.
Daughter: “I can’t believe we let you leave the house looking like that!”
Me: “It was all the rage in the 80’s.”
Daughter: “Mom, your bangs are sticking straight up. It looks like you’re walking into the wind wherever you go.”
Me: “Quit being so judgy!”
Daughter: (Miming walking into the wind.)