Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Proof that we are not alone--and it’s bound to make you laugh too


Do you remember the Brady Bunch episode about Marcia’s diary?  She kept it hidden behind a box of old books in the garage, and wrote inside about her mad love for—who else—Desi Arnaz Jr.  Of course, the diary is accidentally given away, only to be returned at the end of the show along with the man of her dreams.

(Desi assures Marcia her secret is safe with him, and plants a big wet one on her cheek before leaving; Marcia happily clutches her returned diary and promises she’ll never wash her face again.)  

I just watched a ‘documentary of sorts’ that reminded me of that old show, and I was happily surprised at both how much I enjoyed it and that someone didn’t think of this sooner.  It’s called “Mortified Nation”, where people from all walks of life (who managed to hold on to their adolescent diaries) are invited to come onstage and read excerpts from their childhood or teenage years.  The creators of this show (which is springing up in various small clubs across the country) call it a “communal embarrassment”, as the audiences can relate to these tales of first crushes or wishing you were adopted.

MotifiedNationNow before you say that listening to the private ramblings of some 12 year old from thirty years ago sounds boring, there’s some uproarious stuff out there.  One girl’s secret ambition was to “whore herself silly” when she became old enough, and a shy, dorky boy secretly fancied himself the lead singer of a future rock-group called “Live Evil” (and wrote 122 x-rated songs in preparation for it).  I was blushing at this kid’s twisted lyrics.

One woman reads to us her 14 year old self’s love for “Lawrence”, a boy in her class—complete with drawings from then showing the two of them kissing underwater, riding horses on the beach, standing at the altar, making love in her bed with Lawrence saying “Gosh!  I never knew it could be like this” as her cartoon self smiles coyly.  But as her grown self reads further entries, we learn Lawrence was in love with someone else, alas… this girl’s best friend! 

There’s a lot of those collective “AW” moments, but for me the best was definitely saved for last; a fortysomething woman (a textbook lesbian complete with a man’s haircut, dress shirt & bow-tie) who gets up & reads her 15 year old self’s battles with her angry mother, her obsession with a certain waitress at a local Chi-Chi’s and “if I could just meet the right boy, why can’t I find the right boyfriend!”  As she continues, we begin to realize there’s some very wrong things going on in this person’s childhood, but we see how right her life turned out in spite of it.  This sweet woman had me laughing and crying both. 

To be honest, we could’ve been spared the various “experts” coming on and explaining why this is both therapeutic for the reader & entertaining for us.  We get it.  There’s also a hipster-vibe throughout which was a bit off-putting, but I suppose that was inevitable given the venues these people were filmed in.  I think it helped with their openness, at least.  Less hip, more diaries please!

I’ve already shared too much.  If you get the opportunity, you’ve gotta see this for yourself.