About the same time I was studying to take the SATs, my mother was renewing her sense of purpose with the lost art of sewing clothes for her family. I was sitting on my bed in a pair of denim shorts that puffed out from the crotch as though I was a smuggler of a half-inflated balloon. My shirt was passable to the naked eye as an off-the-shelf, and out-of-a-plastic-bag, plain, red T-shirt; except that she measured incorrectly for the armholes, so that from my armpit to my elbow I was encased like a sausage and I couldn't fully rest my arms against my sides."I am to fashion as a scarecrow is to: automobile racing," I wrote in my notebook.
"Come here and try this on," my mother yelled from the front room, through lips gripped around pins. Which sounded like "Cuh fear net fry fish uh."
I shoved my SAT Practice Questions book off my lap and went into the living room.
"Oh, no," I said. "There's no way I'm wearing that. Why don't we buy clothes like everyone else?"
I knew the answer. She spit the pins onto her foldout card table. "Because money's tight. You want to get a job to help out around here?"
"No," I said. "How about you get a job to help out around here." I was far past the age and size for my mother to slap me in the face so I got a stern glaring and a lecture on how hard it is to be a housewife. Having just escaped childhood for my teen years I was still susceptible to guilt so I tried on the pink Polo shirt she had just finished. Miami Vice was very popular that year.
"It stops at my bellybutton." I said.
"Well, stop slouching and pull your shorts up. Look, there's plenty of material down here."
She had a point.
In a rare burst of overconfidence I donned the pink shirt and puffy shorts for school the next morning. Along with a pair of white canvas deck shoes my mother had cobbled together using a hot-glue gun and some old flip-flops. Testosterone had just made its entrance into my chemical makeup and, sometimes in the least practical situations, the hormone had made me brazen and bold.
"This could work," I said to the mirror. I adjusted my sunglasses so it would be hard to tell that they were made mostly of baling wire.
"I am to Don Johnson as a caterpillar is to...a butterfly."
Thursday August 2
ESPN 10:00 a.m.
Football coaches need to get out of this rut of thinking that offense and defense have to conform to normal standards. I'm talking about something so revolutionary and distracting that a charging line of millionaire felons would be awed by the sight of it. Yes, that's right. Put me in the backfield and let me do my "Baton Twirl and Sparkler Extravaganza" dance in my red rhinestone underpants. "I'm a maniac, MANIAC, on the floor. And I'm dancing like I've never danced before!"
ABC 9:00 p.m.
I wonder how many times this show's star, Katherine Heigl, has heard the line, "Hey, baby. Want to see my anatomy?" If that line doesn't work, unzip your fly and chase after her. You'll probably be arrested, but so what? You were in proximity to Katherine Heigl and one of you was nearly naked. That's a "win" in my book.
Friday August 3
Tiger Shark Attack: Beyond Fear
Discovery 8:00 p.m.
Shark Week scared the ovaries right out of me. I went to a doctor, told him I had been frightened terribly, and asked him if I had any ovaries left and he replied, " Well, no." I said, "See? Shark Week."
Saturday August 4
Fox 9:00 a.m.
Elvis would make the best piñata ever. You could squirrel away dozens of airline bottles of booze, prescription meds, and peanut butter sandwiches in his empty papier-mâché cavity. Just cut a hole in his little white, ticker tape jumpsuit and stuff it all in. Elvis would once again rain down happiness and joy. You could stand under him and catch prescription pills on your tongue like snowflakes.
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
ABC 8:00 p.m.
I have a better movie. It's a tragic tale at first, but shapes up nicely in the end. The leading man goes on to be the TV writer for a local weekly alternative newspaper in San Diego (ahem). It's called Confessions of an Orally Fixated, Teenage Introvert with Hair in Odd Places and Astonishing B.O .
Sunday August 5
This Week With George Stephanopoulos
ABC 8:00 a.m.
If swarthy George Stephanopoulos and Corky from Life Goes On had a lovechild he could be named "Retardo Montalban."
Monday August 6
Man vs. Wild
Discovery 7:00 p.m.
This guy's oddly fascinated by pee. In one episode, I think it has to do with desert survival and how to keep cool, he whizzes on his own shirt and wraps it around his head. This show inspired me to name my next theoretical band "Squirt Turban."
Tuesday August 7
The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale
Lifetime 9:00 p.m.
Fantasia is a pretty good name for a stripper. I'm thinking of becoming a cross-dressing stripper. All I need is clear plastic high-heel shoes, a water bra, and Nair. Lots and lots of Nair. My stage name will be "Anita Dickens."
Wednesday August 8
So You Think You Can Dance
Fox 8:00 p.m.
I'd like to get that cat that can predict deaths to hang around outside the studio of Fox's So You Think You Can Dance. You know, to sniff around. See how much more of this garbage we have to endure. C'mon Linus, or Stripes, or Captain Fuzzytail or whatever the hell your name is. Start to meow. START TO MEOW!
Thursday August 9
NBC 9:30 p.m.
If anyone ever combines Scrubs with America's Next Top Model I'd like to put in my application to audition. I even have my own sponge, tub, and sensible nursing shoes. Ooh, you've been a naughty patient, haven't you, America's Next Top Model ? Yes, naughty indeed.