The first thing I can remember wanting to be was a black woman.
Standing in the checkout behind my mother at some shopping center, Treasure Island I think it was, I looked around me. These beautiful black women were having an animated conversation the gist of which was they weren't going to take any crap from anyone. Looking around, all the black women I saw wore wonderful, bright colors, had attitude and style. The white women wore mostly pastel jogging suits and had carried themselves as if they hoped to garner as little attention as possible. They were bland. Thinking more deeply on the subject, and as much as my seven year old mind could fathom, I thought of all the black women who's voices I loved and couldn't think of a single white woman that had the same effect. Yep, I was going to be black.
That didn't work out.
My next aspiration? To be Roseanne Roseannedanna. I loved Gilda Radner for Emily Litella and Baba Wawa but worshipped her for Roseannedanna. There was the brashness and the self-determination I craved:
Jane Curtin "This past Thursday was the great American Smoke Out, a day that everyone in America was encouraged to stop smoking cigarettes for a 24 hour period. Here to comment further is Update Health correspondent, Roseanne Rosannadanna."
"Thanks, a lot, Jane. A guy from Forlayden, New Jersey writes in and says, "Dear Roseanne Rosannadanna. Last Thursday, I quit smoking. Now I'm depressed, my face broke out, I'm nauseas, I'm constipated, my cheeks swell, my gums are bleeding, my sinuses are clogged, I got heart burn, and I got gas. What should I do?
Well, you sound like a real attractive guy. You belong in New Jersey. But I know exactly what you're going through, cause once, I, Roseanne Rosannadanna quit smoking. To get back in shape, I had to join one of those fancy shmancy health clubs. You know, the ones where it's really expensive to join but it's worth it because you get to see a lot of people that you don't know naked. Like some people got them bulgy, bulgy thighs, the ones that get chafed just 'cause they're always scraping together. And there's other people there that got them funny bellybuttons. Like some go in, and some go out, some are like a ball, or curl around, or it's like a little knob on it like a door. Some people even got little pieces of their sweater still in it. Some of them even look like a little shell or a clam or something you don't know what they are.
But personally, I, Roseanne Rosanndanna, don't like to walk around with no clothes on in front of other people. Not that I don't have a great body, but why should I waste it on a bunch of fat ladies in a health club?
Anyway, they got this thing there that's a little room that's hot inside and you go in there to sweat like a pig. So I go in there, but before I sit down, I put this clean towel on the bench 'cause there's a lot of people been there and you don't know where they been. But who do you think is sitting next to me but Dr. Joyce Brothers. That very smart pixie lady who thinks she knows everything. But what this nude psychologist didn't know was that she had this little, teeny, tiny ball of sweat right here, hanging off the tip of her nose. It was just hanging there! It wouldn't fall off! Like if she turned her head, it wouldn't fall off. If she stood up it didn't fall off, if she stretched it wouldn't come off, and when she picked little pieces of her sweater out of her bellybutton it wouldn't fall off. That little sweat ball just wouldn't fall off. So I yelled at her, I said, "Hey, Doctor! Flick that sweat ball off your nose! What are you trying to do, make me sick?"
Jane Curtin "Excuse me, what do health clubs, sweat, and steam baths have to do with cigarettes?"
Roseanne Rosannadanna "Well, Jane, it just goes to show you. It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another. Either you smoke or you have a sweat ball hanging off your nose. It's just like a song we used to sing on Thanksgiving when I was a little girl. Everybody would come over to my house all dressed up pretty and everything, and my mother would make the turkey with stuffing and for dessert, we'd have the traditional Banana Rosannadanna cake. Before we ate, we'd bow our heads, bow your head, Jane, come on, bow your head. Bow it. BOW YOUR HEAD!! And we'd all sing: 'We gather together to ask the lord's blessing. Please love down upon the Rosannadanna folks. Bring peace to our fathers, good health to our mothers, and please don't make me sweat like Dr. Joyce Brothers.'"