The following are redacted and grammatically corrected portions of my mother Sally’s 1989 Christmas letter, a fictional interview of Sally by Jane Pauley. Not all readers will remember NBC’s Jane Pauley but she was one of the most authentic, civil, and just plain nice journalists in her day. Fake newsies, Foxbots, and otherwise general idealogues, please review her tapes and take note. An envelope, with the interview folded inside, magically appeared as if never opened while I was sorting through papers in my own house. The glue from the envelope was so persistent I had to rip it open. I share it with you to show you a) that Sally was a fine writer b) insight into her general frame of mind and c) her family relationships. In general, my parents did not like to brag about their children – this was about as close at it got. Interestingly, the Christmas letter is signed by my father.
The scene of the interview: Sally’s art studio located at the south end of Arcata, California.
JP: Sally, the press has treated you very well this year, are you basking in the moment?
SC: Yes, the Arcata Union did recognize my blue ribbon at the county fair in the amateur division of painting. I loved receiving phone calls and notes from friends.
JP: Did you have a formal art education? Just what is your background?
SC: As you know my formal education was in Apparel Merchandising; I have enrolled in some art classes, but mainly my art education has been limited to the Madonna and Child of the U.S. Christmas postage stamps.
JP: How did you feel about your picture at the fair?
SC: Honestly I liked the one that didn’t win. It was a painting of my daughter The Expat Princess giving me a good-bye kiss at the end of the summer as she leaves for her second year of law school. I am a romantic sucker. I like my daughter telling me that I am the most wonderful mother in the world. After 25 years it is great to have someone notice.
JP: … Do you have other children?
SC: Actually, I have two other daughters. MoodRingMomma is studying at UCSB and I’m so proud of her. She is a wonderful student; plus she works. Is that terrific? She works at the Biltmore Swim Club. It could have a fancier name than that, but she has given John Travolta his towel. When MoodRingMomma’s boyfriend gave her a diamond ring, I asked her if she was engaged and she screamed at me, “Mother of course not! I just told him that my parents never buy me jewelry.”
My daughter MCVWasHere is a senior in high school. … Just this week the San Francisco Chronicle horoscope said that I would be making decisions that could influence the rest of my life. Frankly, if MCV would clean up the floor of her room, that might influence the rest of my life. MCV, so accomplished, so delightful, for not only has she earned the reigning sweet baby princess award, her accomplishments would bore even the most ardent of Christmas letter readers, but she in unqualifiedly the most fantastic cleaning woman I have ever had. [Readers, note the self-contradiction in the same paragraph!] I cried when I saw her in the chorus of the school play. Tears ran down my cheeks thinking how much she looked like my mother, may God rest her soul. What a wonderful exit to Motherhood. Hello my real adult life.
JP: Can I offer you my hanky? This must be emotional for you.
SC: No, I’m fine. … I think I will plant my garden in case we have a wedding.
JP: What is your commitment to art?
SC: … All I do is slap paint on canvas. I sometimes finger paint. Like cooking, it is the doing, the giving, the participation, the stirring of the pot, the patience of finding the right recipe for the right person. It is a dialogue. And it is a great excuse to wear hideous clothes.
JP: Where do you get your support? Artists usually have some great trauma or love of their life, what is yours?
SC: Michael, my Michael … today he paid my studio rent, vacuumed the whole house, ignored my blatant checkbook errors and there are a few other things that are not for publication. Can you imagine, all in the same day?
JP: You really have very wonderful skin for your age. Do you have anything else to say to your public?
SC: Yes, please return all of my books especially Pasta, Pizza and Calzone. [OH, THE IRONY].