"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Remember that old TV show, "This Is Your Life"?

Each week, an unsuspecting celebrity was lured by some ruse to a location near the TV studio. The celebrity was then surprised with the news that he was to be the featured guest, and he was escorted into the studio where, one by one, people significant in the guest's life were brought out to offer anecdotes. At the end of the show family members and friends would gather 'round the guest who was then given a variety of gifts.


I've come up with my own reality-TV show rendition of This Is Your Life...I call it, "My Life In Totes", and it goes something like this:

Each weekend, an unsuspecting middle-aged woman in the throes of a menopausal, pre-empty nest "where-the-hell-did-my-life-go" crisis, is lured by some ruse down into her unfinished -- and very dusty -- basement. She is then surprised -- aghast, really -- to discover that every person who ever wrote her a letter, sent her a birthday or Christmas card, thank-you note, a picture, throughout her life, or is mentioned in one of a gazillion of her old diaries and half-finished journals, has been invited as a special guest to help her clean said unfinished and dusty basement.

Next, the woman is escorted by the throng of special guests into the mildew-scented catch-all room of the basement, a room lined wall-to-wall with plastic totes containing at least 41 years' worth of the aforementioned birthday and Christmas cards, thank-you notes, diaries and journals that the woman --much to her husband's chagrin -- just could not part with o'er these many decades.

As the woman sorts through the mementos of her life, and re-reads each card or gazes at each old photo, the significant person who either sent the card or is shown in the photo, steps forward and offers an amusing/heart-warming -- or possibly, depending on the diary or journal entry, embarrassing/heart-breaking-- anecdote regarding his or her relationship with the woman.

That's where "My Life In Totes" gets a little tricky, where the suspense and intrigue builds...it's all about the anecdote...since the woman never marked her totes, she has absolutely no idea if she's opening up a warm and fuzzy jaunt down memory lane or a heart-wrenchingly painful Pandora's Box. There's so many people packed in her basement, she has no clue who might step forward next or what kind of tale might be told...

After each anecdote shared, the woman -- tho' it is mighty difficult for her to part with the past -- sticks the accompanying card/picture, or pages of the diary/journal, in a nearby paper shredder, and moves on to the next card/picture, diary/journal...
By the end of the show -- providing the woman and her guests have not succumbed to moldy lung disease or whatever it is one catches from pawing through moldy papers and pictures for hours at a time -- there is either:

A) a big group hug, lots of happy tears, and the woman realizes that, truly, hers was -- and continues to be -- a wonderful life, the totes are FINALLY empty, her basement is "clean", and she is showered with gifts.


B) a terrifying scream as the middle-aged woman is overcome by a hot flash of anxiety at having to relive some parts of her life best left to the mold and mildew, and she shoos everyone out of the house, takes a cold shower, and downs a pitcher of margaritas.

One week "My Life In Totes" might be set to the tune of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends"; the next week, Joe Nichols' "Tequilla Makes Her Clothes Fall Off". Hard to say.


Let's face it...life -- in totes or out -- is pretty much a crapshoot.

No comments: