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  • Writer's pictureDana Starr

How I Learned to Love Lemonade

This is so exciting. Mrs. Keller is going to announce the winner of the Hart Elementary School 6th grade essay contest after lunch. I'm slowly sipping my chocolate milk while rehearsing my acceptance speech in my head. I dare not attempt to eat my sloppy joe because I'm wearing my favorite purple and black dress with the large, white Peter Pan collar. This ensemble looks stunning paired with my knee-high Go Go boots. I've carefully prepared for the white, hot glare of the spotlight to shine on me today.

Last night, I slept in pink, foam rollers to achieve just the right amount of bounce and curl in my straight, thin hair. When I finish my milk, I'll carefully apply my Bonne Bell Lip Smacker cherry-flavored lip gloss to give myself a polished yet approachable vibe.

I didn't spend as much time writing the essay as I've spent preparing to accept the first-place, blue ribbon. I don't have a lot of free time. There are too many TV programs I have to watch.

Now, keep in mind this was back in the day when we had no TIVO or DVR or Netflix or cable or satellite or whatever. We had one big, clunky TV, and we had to go outside with a wrench to turn the TV antenna to the appropriate spot on the horizon. We did this rain or shine. We did this in the snow, in the mud and in the intense summer heat.

I was lucky because I usually had the TV all to myself from mid-afternoon to dusk. I should have been doing my homework, but TV was so much more interesting than homework. If I walked straight home from school without stopping to visit, I could see what Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman were up to on Dark Shadows. That was followed by Gilligan's Island which I never missed because I was hoping The Professor would hook up with Mary Ann. Yes, I know how weird that sounds. Petticoat Junction followed Gilligan's Island. Sometimes, I'd mix it up a little and throw in an episode of Lost in Space, but the Dr. Smith character irritated the hell out of me so I rarely watched that show.

TV was even better at night. You could be sitting in the Long Branch with Matt and Kitty one night, and touring the galaxy on the USS Enterprise the next night. TV was, and is, my greatest passion. Naturally, TV was the subject of my essay. It was laugh out loud funny, and also quite touching and moving. I figured Mrs. Keller had to wipe more than one tear from her eye when she read it.

I know my name is on the tip of her tongue when she stands up to announce the winner. I'm already up from my desk when I hear her say, "The winner is Melanie Davis." Excuse me. Did I hear her correctly? I better sit back down.

Clearly, there's been a huge mistake. Melanie didn't even dress for the occassion. She's wearing the same old, ratty jeans she wears every day. I know for a fact she doesn't even own any lip gloss because her mom won't let her wear it. I've been robbed and I know it. Melanie's dad is on the school board and the fix is in. Oh well, I can be graceful about this travesty. It's not the first time my immense talent has gone unnoticed, and I'm fairly certain it won't be the last.

I was almost fully grown before my self-confidence was badly shaken again. My senior year of high school the drama department staged a production of "Music Man." Naturally, I was a shoe-in for the female lead. I'd rehearsed my big audition scene, using a hairbrush for a microphone, in front of the mirror for weeks.

It's the day of try-outs and tons of girls are there. It' really kind of sad. These girls are going to be so disappointed when I nab the starring role. I hope my parents won't be too upset with my plan to skip college and head for the bright lights of Broadway. Talent like mine can't be denied, and I will not wait another four years to enjoy standing ovations multiple times a week.

Well, it seems I might have to wait after all. Apparently, my drama teacher is tone deaf. I didn't even get to sing the entire song before she cut off my audition. How rude. If she thinks I'm still going to help with props and costumes then she has another think coming.

It's okay. I suppose Barbra Striesand and Liza Minelli probably had their fair share of setbacks too. I don't want to achieve great success too early. Then I will have nothing to look forward to in life. I'll become an empty, hollow, narcissistic shell. I'll sleep 'til noon, and rise to join the other beautiful people for a three-martini lunch at Elaine's before I must prepare to dance the night away at Studio 54 with the likes of Brooke Shields and Michael Jackson.

That's not the life for me. Who needs that hassle? I'll choose the scholarly path. I'm certain admittance officers at Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe or Wellesly will be super-impressed with my B minus average and many extra-curricular activities. Hey, I might even play sports. Granted, I didn't play sports in high school, but that's just because no coach could recognize my athletic ability. I'll probably even get a scholarship.

When I become the next Barbara Walters, my college classmates will talk about how torn I was between choosing an athletic career or becoming an Emmy-winning broadcaster. Who knew a B minus average wouldn't provide entree into any of the glamorous East Coast universities I'd dreamed of attending?

You know me by now, I always have a back-up plan. When life gives you lemons, you just have to start cranking out that lemonade. I've made barrels of lemonade in my life. Hell, I've probably made a river of lemonade, and I'll keep making it.

People will want to drink my delicious lemonade. It'll be more popular than Coke. I'll start my own company, go public and sell stock, and hang out with Mark Cuban and Daymond John. I've carefully prepared for the white, hot glare of the spotlight to shine on me my whole life. It'll happen. In the meantime, I'm just going to sit here and enjoy a nice, freshly-squeezed glass of lemonade.

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