I think I always wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore . . . throwing my fuzzy, striped wool cap up in the air in the middle of that cold, potential-filled Minneapolis intersection at Nicollet Mall.
That was really my life plan ― unconsciously maybe. I yearned to be a sassy, single career woman on my own, working for my own version of Mr. Grant at a TV station ― and living in a cozy, split-level, efficiency apartment in the land of 10,000 lakes. I actually painted my room yellow and made my own curtains out of sunny yellow-checked bed sheets I bought at Sanger-Harris when I was 13. Eventually, I even chose an internship at the Minneapple’s Guthrie Theatre ― ostensibly as part of my graduate arts administration program, but it was probably more about the pursuit of my Mary myth. Unfortunately, my Cold War-era company apartment on Loring Park had more cinder blocks and roaches than Victorian panache, but I did love the Twin Cities.
It’s amazing how seventies television molded me. It taught me that if I had yellow shag carpeting, a really skinny chest of drawers, a self-effacing smile ― and a neurotic, wise-cracking neighbor, things might work out after all. And I tried to work that out for a long time. Mary was my aspiration and, at times, my fragile identity.
I did enjoy countless hours of quality time with my CBS gang. I remember Archie Bunker, Mary Richards, Bob Newhart, and Carol Burnett typically occupying my Saturday nights as a pre-teen ― in front of that enormous, fake-wood RCA console in the corner of the living room. I often curled up on my parents’ sea foam green sectional― with a whole box of Reese’s mini-peanut butter cups, a package of Oreo cookies, and an ice-cold Tab. Ah, those were the days.
So now, look at me ― I am that single gal, but alas, I’m on the other side of divorce with two sons who are practically adults. I’m back in Dallas, and I finally sold off that skinny, yellow lingerie chest in a garage sale for $15. Admittedly, I had been lugging it around for years and years. I finally emptied the drawers, but I think there was still some junk inside.
Thank you, Mary, for being there all those years. Thank you for serving as a role model for me and so many young women who ultimately found strength in themselves. Love is all around, no need to waste it. Will miss you. Photo Credit: PBS.org