I was thinking the other night while I was desperately trying to fall asleep but couldn’t, of all the distractions I have had in my life that have redirected my purpose.
My mind, racing at midnight, keeping me from falling asleep is one. I told myself I needed a notepad by my nightstand so I could jot down all these ideas running through my head but no, even though I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t force myself to get up just in case I might be on the brink of dozing off.
Needless to say, the only idea, besides those for my screenplay, and those inspired by Badfish is to chronologically share the detours I’ve experienced in life. Truth be told, I could really right a book about them, but suffice it to say, it is barely a fleeting thought to do so.
I don’t know when the first of my detours started. but the first one I would say I had was the one my mom took for me. She had left dad in San Diego and went back to Mexico. I don’t know what the reason was, perhaps she realized she didn’t love him or perhaps it was because he hit her. Dad was abusive on many levels, so hard telling. Unfortunately, while she was there in Mexico she discovered she was pregnant with me, so she did what she thought was the right thing and returned “home” to him. Had she stayed there, She and I would have had a different life altogether. So, I guess we detoured one another.
As a child, I was somewhat of a showman. I would sing and dance and perform for my parents friends. One of these friends happened to be a couple who lived in Hollywood with lots of Hollywood connections, so I was sent to Hollywood as there protege’ and began my erudition for the screen.
Actually in retrospect, it seemed more of a pimping because they changed what I wore, how to wear makeup and paraded me down Sunset Strip Boulevard on the back of a new Corvette convertible, waving at whoever might notice me and I did as I was told relying on their advice. In those days Sunset Strip was nothing like it is today; it was more of a place for teens to go cruisin’. When we weren’t doing that I was auditioning in front of their director/producer friends.
I learned how to eat like a lady and how to stir the sugar in my tea without making an ungodly noise, clinking the glass with the spoon. I already had the yes ma’am and no sirs down since I was from the south and no southern child survives without that.
It was there I had my first teen age crush. Their neighbor’s son was home from college. He was a fine Jewish boy attending med school. Boy did I have it bad, but he was probably 19 and I was only 15. He humored me but never took liberties.
They would later take me to visit another family who also had a good looking son that I went bowling with. We had the time of our life and he was just so easy to talk to. I understood why later when, at the end of the day, his parents explained to me how he was headed to seminary school to become a Catholic priest!!!
I still think of them both. Sigh!
Whether or not I would have had what it takes to make it in Hollywood I was never to discover. My parents got divorced and I ended up back home. My mother’s connection to this couple dropped off after that and I missed my chance, but as I’ve mention before, in those days it was not in vogue for a Hispanic girl to get work as anything but a maid, a hooker or some trash part. So perhaps it was just as well, I would never have made it as a maid. All this took place about the time Sally Field got the part in the Flying Nun and I remembered thinking how much I would have loved doing that.
A New Direction:
Okay, so acting wasn’t going to happen, but Mother was not to be stopped, so after that any beauty contest or event that would show off her daughter was entered in. I got yelled at a lot, was pushed and prodded and the whole experience was anything but pleasant. The contest on the right was for the Del Mar Fair’s Fairest of the Fair contest. I got to wear the “lucky” number 13. Needless to say, I didn’t win, but the girl that did deserved it. My heart to say the least just wasn’t in it.
Because I was inclined to be quite the tomboy, mother took the next step to making a lady out of me. I was also sent to “charm” school where I learned to walk, talk, use makeup and dress like a lady. I learned to fence, which having a propensity for sports was my favorite class. To this day I can still walk briskly with a book on my head and not drop it.
I became a commodity. Even though what I wanted to do was act and sing, that was no longer a choice. I was good at it and I did great in high school drama but… that’s not the direction I would go.
Part of the modeling courses included giving us as much exposure as possible to get us accustomed to crowds and public displays. I did car shows, I was a trophy queen at drag races, subjected to nasty kisses from what I thought were old men and who had kids I went to school with! Anything I could get into that would exploit my features, I was entered in.
The only thing I didn’t mind was modeling for expensive boutiques, there, I got to wear and display gorgeous outfits I could never afford In some cases, the owner would allow us to keep or purchase an item at a very discounted price with no strings attached. Because I was small, most runway jobs I got were for teen or preteen clothing. I didn’t care for that on many levels, for one I was neither of those things and I wanted to look like a woman; the other reason is that for some reason I found it extremely stressful and unorganized, not to mention the people involved were not as nice nor easy to be around.
So modeling was not for me and although I did go on to place in several beauty pageants, that too didn’t rock my world.
To be continued: