In case there is a morsel of doubt, it’s true. I’ve turned into my mother.
My mother, God bless her, never met a stranger. In her elder years-after she was widowed- I often took mom on various outings about town, just to have something to do. If I happened to leave her alone a few minutes, she would strike up a conversation with the first person she encountered. I’d return from my brief absence- having retrieved my forgotten loaf of bread or completed my restroom visit- only to discover that I had become the center of a conversation in which my mother revealed everything she knew about me to a complete stranger. She did the same thing when she went out with my sister.
“Oh, this is my youngest daughter, Susan” mom would begin brightly to her new friend. I would nod politely while eyeing the ever- growing line at the cash register. “She’s an interior designer in Greensboro… and yes, her husband is the art teacher. They have one son, Brennen… She IS a wonderful daughter. My other daughter, Janie, lives in Thomasville. She and her husband have a beautiful place at Ocean Isle Beach… yes, she is the teacher…” and on and on it would go until the line reached the back of the store.
Mom was bold and furiously friendly, blissfully ignorant of social boundaries. I recall the time mom ran into Dean Smith at the airport. I was digging through the depths of my pocketbook when mom wandered off. When I looked up, she was standing at the baggage claim watching Dean Smith search for his luggage on the revolving gurney. Dean was there, casually cool, trying to be a regular Joe looking for his duffle bag, while my mother examined him like a specimen under a magnifying glass. Really, she was bent all the way over, inspecting (it would appear) his shoes or somethin’ low. I practically had to peel her off him.
Since I have become my mother, middle age has emboldened me to do all sorts of foolish things that somehow remind me of my mother. I recently had the opportunity to meet my childhood crush, Donny Osmond at a local trade show, the High Point International Furniture Market. Donny and his wife have a furniture line called DOH- Donnie Osmond Home. It just so happened my BFF Angela was overseeing the design work on the space adjacent to his showroom. Being the excellent friend that she is and knowing about my childhood infatuation, she procured the means for me to meet him on the day of his appearance at DOH, hawking his dining room suits and upholstered beds to other middle-aged women like myself.
When the day finally arrived, I swathed myself in the most purple of outfits (true fans know Donnie’s favorite color is purple) and arrived in the showroom at the specified time. I entered through the back door and moseyed through the vignettes in search of his Highness. Our mutual friend, Brandi, manages both showrooms. Knowing my intentions, she spotted me there wandering the showroom alone, came over and inquired if I had met him yet.
Pulling my by the arm, she hauled me to the front. “Where’s Donnie?” she asked his publicists, who were standing up front nibbling cubes of pineapple from the Edible Arrangements bouquet.
“In the bathroom,” they replied. I implored Brandi that there was no hurry; I certainly didn’t want to bother Donny Osmond while he was on the toilet. Instead, I picked at the grapes and strawberries and made small talk with the receptionist.
This was not a hard thing for me to do, of course, because I am my mother’s daughter.
Five minutes later, Brandi reappeared. By this time the grapes and strawberries were gone. “Where’s Donny?” she asked the publicists again. Donny and I had not even met yet but I already had the feeling he was avoiding me. Brandi stormed off and found him, sitting in – what they referred to as an office- but really, it looked like he was in a small storage room.
He was avoiding me for sure.
I follow Brandi inside. “Donny,” began Brandi, “This is Susan. She is one of your biggest fans. Her friend Angela is in charge of the floor design crew that set up our showroom.She helped decorate our showroom.”
That’s when our eyes met and I’ve gotta say, well, he looked tired.
He’d had some work done, but he was still trim and handsome. Smaller than I had somehow envisioned. Still, he had than mane of thick black hair and the wide smile of Chicklet teeth I remembered from his television days. He extended his hand for a handshake.
Now, you know there was no way I was going to be satisfied with that. Not after waiting forty years to meet him. “Can I have a hug?” I asked as I moved in. (Trump has nothing on me; really, I gave the poor man no choice.) Poor Donny was cornered in the storage room by a very nervous and excited woman swathed in purple, still holding the toothpick from her sampling of the Edible Arrangements.
That’s when mama really took over. I began babbling… thanking Donny – of all things- for being part of my youth (I did NOT say fantasies) and for his family’s positive influence in my growing up years. I told him how much my family had enjoyed watching his and Marie’s television show. Of course, since I babble when I am nervous, I went on and on… Donny looked confused for a moment until he understood what I was getting at.
“Yes,” he said. “It was a more innocent time…” He shook his head, looking a bit sad and even more tired. I agreed, even though the memory of my twelve year old thoughts was not so “Sweet and Innocent.” I nodded like an idiot.
Then somehow, in this brief conversation, I got him to tell me where he was staying. Coincidentally, it happened to be the hotel owned by my employer. As the company’s longtime interior designer, I had, of course, decorated his room. I may have asked him which floor.
No, I am certain, I did ask “Which floor?”
Poor Donny. I am my mother’s daughter; there was no hiding from me. He assured me that his suite was very nice. And that his wife was coming the next day.
“How con-veen-ient” I thought, but instead, I nodded like a normal person and tried not to give my weirdness away.
I didn’t mention my past history, that I had been a type of Donny Osmond stalker once before, though not in the way you might think. As a preteen, I made obscene phone calls to my friend Crystal Orrell, pretending I was him. “Hello Crystal,” I began in my deepest Donny voice. “This is Donny Osmond. Is your refrigerator running?”… or something like that. No, I couldn’t be content like a normal person stalking Donny Osmond, I wanted to BE him. I wondered briefly if this was related to my brief fascination with trying to be like my male cousins, trying to pee standing up.
It didn’t work. Not the peeing, well yes- that did work- but not very efficiently, I mean the being Donny Osmond. Crystal’s mom called my mom and I got in a wee bit of trouble.
Really, as we stood there both inches and worlds apart, Donny looked like he was eyeing the exit in case he needed to make a fast getaway. I didn’t want to bother him- I might be bold but not impolite. I needed to leave and so, of course, I asked for a photo. “Let’s take a selfie” he volunteered; that was fine with me. There really wasn’t room enough in that room anyway for a photographer.
We vogued, right there in the storage room office. I held the phone out and he- well.. let’s just say he pushed my button.
The next day, I learned that Donny was scheduled to make another appearance with an art vendor I am acquainted with. I was there to say hello again, looking spiffy in my other purple outfit, black boots and a gold metallic belt. This time, since he was bringing his wife, you bet I was bringing my husband.
“Ugh, I don’t want to meet him” Perry whined. “That’s weird.”
“You’ve GOT to meet him, honey”, I said. “You’ve just got to.” (“This is my youngest daughter’s husband the art teacher,” I heard mother say.)
We found Donny perched as if he’d like to fly away, beneath a row of abstract paintings. I waited in line, hubby in tow, making a point to catch the eye of the gallery’s owner with whom I knew from years of doing business together. Janice started to make the introductions, “Oh we’ve met”, I assured her. She looked back and forth at Donny, me , perplexed.
“Yes,” said Donny. “We met yesterday at the …”
(You cornered me in the storage room is what he was thinking!)
I pulled Perry up there and introduced him to Donny. “The artwork looks great,” I offered, and just to prove my point, I craned my neck at the soft, pastel colored artwork lining the gallery’s walls. There was a very aggressive looking woman standing nearby, probably from Florida, with tanned skin, sparkly jewelry and stand-up bangs. Like me, she was wearing a LOT of purple. I could tell, she wanted me to be brief. She stood next in line looking like she could just eat Donny Osmond up.
“I was hoping to meet Debbie,” I suddenly remarked to Donny, making casual conversation. I couldn’t believe it; we were already on a first name basis. Not Mrs. Osmond, not your wife, but Debbie- like she was my long lost college friend or somethin’.
“Oh she’s around- over there she is…” he said, and he pointed to an attractive, petite lady talking with a small group of women. There, he’d thrown me off the scent! I ditched Perry and Donny, walked right over to eye my competiion. I stood behind them, giving the other ladies the evil eye til I could introduce myself.
Debbie Osmond was gracious and lovely. We talked about our kids, about my son getting married and about her nearly empty nest, which I knew about already because after all, I am a stalker.
I had googled her.
Afterwards, Perry gave me a hard time. He thinks it’s hilarious… that I impersonate Donny Osmond, that I tried to pee standing up, that I have stalked Donny Osmond and now his poor lovely, unsuspecting wife.
What can I say? I am my mother’s daughter. (The youngest… the interior designer… whose husband is an art teacher… who has a son named Brennen…)