A couple of years ago I posted about my family’s flirtation with fame when we were asked to have our pictures taken for some HOA marketing materials. I fully expected, upon the release of these photos, a rapid rise to fame for the Smith family. The photos were released in 2008.
It’s 2010. Still not famous.
These dashed hopes turned out to be only a murky foreshadowing of my latest brush with greatness, which happened in the sunny state of Utah, wherein Bad Things Are Not Supposed to Happen (furthering my status as a victim.) Here’s the rundown:
Last week we spent a lovely few days in the Salt Lake area visiting family and attending my nephew’s baptism. Ever the gracious hostess, my fabulous sister Jaimy arranged a tour of a local candy factory called Sweets, which every day makes tons (literally) of chocolates, taffy and candies to be shipped out the world over. Though it has an international following, Sweets is located right near the SLC airport, and we were going to see it! I couldn’t believe my happy luck. I never knew Salt Lake City was famous for something so uplifting and inspirational.
We adults were giddier than the children as we filed into the lobby and reverently placed the mandatory hairnets over our heads, which only slightly dampened mine and Jaimy’s moods, as we had both reached for the stars by washing and styling our hair that day. Standing at the front of the room was our tour guide, a darling little grandma whom we decided was my father’s humor-soulmate (it’s not a compliment). She began to explain the rules of the tour and how it all would work. I listened with one ear while my other was alert for the sound of singing Oompa Loompas. It was that kind of factory: clever and clean and a little bit mystical, with honest-to-goodness chocolate flowing through pipes overhead. So you can imagine our added delight when, at the end of her speech, she casually mentioned that “the Food Network is here, taping a show called Kid in a Candy Store, so if you end up on camera, we’ll need you to sign a release before you leave.”
Jaimy and I just stared at each other. Was she kidding? The Food Network??
Facts, in order of importance:
1) Jaimy deserves, and has always deserved, her own show on the Food Network. Her cooking is legendary, her hostessing and party planning skills even more so. She had a color scheme coordinated for Chase’s baptism brunch. Need I say more?
2) I deserve, and have always deserved, my own show on any network, be it Food or otherwise. Not because my cooking is legendary. Because I think I deserve anything that will make me look good and will bring me lots of money. If Giada can do it, why can’t I? (Don’t answer that. I already know why.)
3) At this point, we’d spent over three days dragging our combined brood of six kids around the greater Salt Lake area to every fun activity conceivable to the super-est of the supermoms. We were exhausted, broke, and a little delirious. You can’t dangle a possible TV appearance in front of two housewives that desperate.
Now that you know facts 1-3, you are ready to know what happened next:
We spotted the crew about ten minutes ahead of us on the tour (and they were not wearing hairnets, thank you very much) and just assumed we would eventually catch up with them. They looked like pretty normal people, except for a certain young chef/journalist/tv personality whom I will simply refer to as McDreamy because believe me, ladies, he was. He breezed by us a couple of times, presumably going back and forth through the factory for notes, equipment, or (my favorite) to keep checking me out. With each passing he flashed us a stunning smile that, from birth, could only ever have landed him on a cable tv show. We smiled our most charming smiles back but never did catch up with them. Our hopes were rekindled, however, when we bumped into them in the famed sweet shoppe, which was the final destination of the tour.
It was a small room packed wall-to-wall with delectables, the most delicious of which was standing in front of the camera a mere five feet away from me. Jaimy and I began running our fingers through our now (thankfully) netless hair. We licked our teeth and sniffed our armpits, ready to move in for the kill. As a final preparatory move, we backed into a discreet corner to perform our regulatory good luck ritual: facing each other, crossing our fingers while forming our arms into an X, and bobbing said arms back and forth, a la Parent Trap. (Don’t pretend you don’t do it, too.) We followed this up with our standard “you look skinny–no, really” to one another, then re-emerged into the aisles to await the approach of the pseudo-journalists. Here it was. It was gonna happen. We were the only family in the store, with six cute little kids and no hairnets to boot. We each tossed our freshly washed locks over our shoulders toward McDreamy; mine were straightened, but Jaimy had braved the new Soft Spiral Curl look and was working the heck out of it. (She claims she is five years behind on this trend, which means I’ll be ten. Oh, the hair-angst of living outside of Utah.)
I did not have time to dwell on my hair inadequacies, however, because my mind was now occupied with constructing the perfect answer for the question I just knew they were going to ask me:
FN : How do you enjoy all these sweets and still maintain your sleek figure, Ms. Smith?
JS : Oh, gosh, I don’t know! [insert modest laugh and toss of head] I do try to exercise quite a bit, but probably not as much as I should for all the cinnamon bears I eat! [girlish giggle and headtoss to other side]
FN: So Sweet’s Cinnamon Bears are your favorite, then?
JS : Oh, yes, although the chocolate-covered almonds are to die for, too…what can I say? I am a woman, after all! [look directly in camera, shrug shoulders really cute like I did for Cliff R., bat eyelashes and smile close-mouthed, super mysterious]
FN: So you have a sweet tooth, then?
JS: Oh [insert McDreamy’s name, which I will have learned by now], did you just call me sweet? [giggle] Yes, I must admit I do have a sweet tooth that I just have to indulge once in awhile. What can I say? I guess I’m just not that vain! [giggle-shrug combo, directly into camera]
Wouldn’t that have been perfect? And yet. It was not to be.
McDreamy and crew ended up asking a bunch of boring questions to some lady who worked in the store who didn’t giggle, toss her head, or have any children with her, while Jaimy and I stood gorgeous but ignored just two aisles behind the camera. We hovered for a while, feigning fascination with the various colors of swedish fish, but to no avail. In one final, desperate move, Jaimy busted out the Ultra-Head Toss, which shook her golden waves all over one shoulder down her front, a la Miss America. I began talking loudly (unusual for me, I know) about how much I loved sweets, and Sweets, and how sweet my kids were. To no avail. McDreamy continued chatting with Miss McBoring, and the next thing we knew, the crew had wrapped it up and walked out the door.
We two grown women remained standing in the swedish fish aisle silently, alone and unwanted. Jaimy shook her head in shame, which was not a totally futile gesture as it placed her hair back behind her neck where it belonged. I thought about my sleek figure and how, now, America would be deprived of my secret for keeping it.
Before we left, I tried to cheer my baby sister by paying twenty dollars for three small packages of candy, but she would not be consoled. She went to bed that night feeling “sick,” as she put it, and I went to bed that night feeling fat. (I couldn’t let that twenty dollars be spent in vain.) After a good night’s rest, however, our spirits felt drastically improved. By morning we were stirring and baking and chopping and color-scheming for Chase’s baptism with our usual gusto, and when the kids flipped on the tv to a spastic Rachael Ray, Jaimy snapped it off decisively. Her boys were stunned.
“But Mom, Rachael Ray is your favorite!”
“Not anymore. No more Food Network in this house.”
“Really? Sweet. Change it to WWF!”
“That’s better, boys.”
Her five-year old had been nursing a lifelong dream to go pro-wrestling. One day, he claimed, he would be the most famous wrestler in the world. Yesterday’s disappointment dissolved as I watched Kyle drop-kick his big brother. Maybe with the right publicist…