Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Curse of Diff'rent Strokes


Like many girls growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, I wanted to be Kimberly on Diff'rent Strokes. Of course, thanks to talk shows, E True Hollywood Story!, and now a made for television movie, we know that her gig wasn't all it was cracked up to be. At the time, I thought the actress, Dana Plato, had the kind of beauty I wanted, wholesome and unmarred, the type of person who never looked tired or grubby or ill-groomed. As Mr. Drummond's biological daughter haunted by her mother's death and adapting to the sudden adoption of Arnold and Willis, two boys from a poverty-ridden background, she exemplified a kind of grace and ease that I believed was beyond me with my perpetually ratty hair and nervous ways -- I was going through a phase where I would rub my eyes so hard that the blood vessels underneath them would break, leaving huge scarlett circles around them. While I loved Arnold and Willis without reservation, Kimberly inspired a kind of worship, the kind of mix of awe and sadness you have toward someone you desperately want to be. I looked at her clothes a lot, and they always matched. Matching was not something I excelled at.

Now Dana Plato is dead of an overdose after a long battle with drugs, after money problems and criminal behavior, after a lifetime of hard times and compromise. She found God near the end of her life, but this did not preclude finding a whole lot of xanax and valium as well as taking too much one night. Perhaps she'd grown tired of being herself and someone else and all that matching perfection. How ironic to find that I am a lot more like her than I ever would have guessed.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Two things I can do without in life are sympathy and calligraphy." David Sedaris, Barrel Fever (If you've never read this story, read this story! It's great)

Cocktail Hour

Drinking reading suggestion: Exile by Blake Nelson

Benedictions and Maledictions

Thanks to Jamie for his question about what constitutes a good Love Connection-like date! I'd say activities that involve lots of tiny food and drinks, movies, concerts.

9 comments:

bonnie said...

Honey,
A cute shot there and too funny. I'd add mimes to the Sedaris list, and annoying men.
kiss kiss Bon

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

This is yet another lovely post and view, as always. What is it about you and Our Lady? Your date ideas provide food for thought.

Brick shy said...

Spring little cobra with all of your might--The Rip-chords

Jason said...

I wanted to be Punky Brewster when I was a young kid.

Thanks for the Halloween tip. Spreading it out will help, I think. And someone throwing a decent costume party would be nice too.

I gotta start planing my costume.

Short bus said...

Plum fairy.

Jake and Ellwood said...

We're on a mission from God.

Sister Peter Marie said...

The First Rule of Barnyard Ethics: In a photo, juxtapose an abortion advocate(preferably someone recognizable as having had an abortion)with an image of the Virgin Mary.

Croc Dundee said...

I would go to the other side of the world to sting Anomaly's ray.

r's musings said...

I find it so sad how most child actors have such difficulty living in the "real world." They're exploited by their parents a lot of times, instead of being protected by them. Didn't Gary Coleman have issues with his parents mismanaging his money? Fame & fortune can be a mixed bag, I suppose.