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Oprah and my greatest disappointment

January 12, 2010

Tonight, I had my first mini-life-crisis.

I’m going to refrain from calling it a mid-life crisis, because I don’t plan on dying at age 60. But let’s face it – I’m not necessarily getting any younger here. My metabolism is failing me, my knees are bad, I can’t stay up for a full episode of SNL without falling asleep.

But here is what gave me pause. I’ve had a dream. Maybe it’s more than a dream — it’s a hope, it’s something that I have held with me for many years — and tonight I realized that I may have to let it go.

In Mrs. Kuenzi’s 5th grade class at Cedaroak Primary school, I was voted “Most Likely to Appear on Oprah.”  I was given a plaque with my name on it and in finely printed letters there it was: My call to greatness. My classmates looked around and said, “That girl. The short blonde one who stayed in at recess to work on her novel. The one who missed two weeks of class because she was in a play downtown. She is destined for fame and fortune. She will be interviewed by the mighty one.”

During my entire life, from 5th grade until tonight, I actually held on to hope that I would not let Mrs. Kuenzi and my peers down. And I have rehearsed this line to Oprah during our interview: “Oh, Oprah. Let me tell you a funny story. When I was in the 5th grade, I was voted ‘Most Likely to Appear on Oprah’. I know, I know…I have to tell you…it’s been my biggest inspiration for ________________.”

Options for the above blank spot include:

1) Writing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel

2) Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

3) National English Teacher of the Year

4) Saving a bus full of children from an oncoming train

I’m not kidding when I say that I have always been plotting a way to make that award a reality. When I was in high school, Oprah had just started her book club. During Honors English with Ms. Druse, our class plotted a way to make it on the show. We totally thought we’d make good TV! Oprah would have her book club dinner with us, we’d discuss the novel; we’d astound her with our astute observations. And the entire time our class planned our letter to the show (which I believe we wrote and never got a reply), I thought, “THIS IS IT!! I’m going on the OPRAH show!!”

Now. Here I am. Never been on Oprah. Never even stood outside her studio in Chicago. And it hit me, “She’s going off the air in 2011. I’m screwed!!” I haven’t finished my book, I haven’t started a screenplay, I’m so far from winning teacher of the year it’s insane, and I’m tired of waiting by train tracks! I’m doomed!! And this 5th grade plaque will sit on my shelf as a monument to my complete and total failure.

Just tonight I went on to her website and there it was, a beacon calling to me, the “Be on the Show” link. I clicked. Unfortunately, I cannot relate to the movie Brothers, I haven’t suffered an amputation due to diabetes, I don’t think Ali Wentworth would want to do my job for a day, and my husband isn’t gay. Wait a second. Do you think Matt would go along with that long enough for me to get on Oprah?

Is it really too much to ask?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    January 12, 2010 8:49 pm

    I didn’t think Oprah was going off the air. I thought that she was just starting her own cable channel and would do her show on the cable channel. Keep the dream alive!

  2. Jessica permalink
    January 13, 2010 8:37 pm

    You are too funny, Shelbi. I totally don’t remember Oprah coming up in Honors English, but I can see how we would go there. And I think Michael is right, so your dream is still alive!

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