“Let’s play a game! Awe you weddy? Who’s undo my bed?” I yelled out as I jumped up and down on my “big-girl bed”, flailing my blue Beatrix Potter themed bed sheets, causing tiny cyclones amongst the coloring books and assorted messiness sprawled on the floor.
“Nobody.” Julie answers. Such a Julie answer, always years ahead of herself.
“Awe, come on, just twy an’ guess.”
Julie slowly knelt down, hesitantly peeked under my bed and replied with an expressionless freckled face, “A shoe.”
I’m now aggravated beyond belief. She’s not my friend anymore. I’ll never talk to her again, ever, if she doesn’t try to guess. “Guess a name. Anybody’s name.”
“Nooooooooo! It’s Steve Moutain! Steve Moutain is undo my bed!”
I, of course, was referring to my future husband, at least in my dream world of a brain, who’s poster hung over the head of my bed. In his dapper white suit, black tie and handkerchief, and unforgettable green and yellow rubber trout slightly poking its head out of the lapel, he was cupping his hands together, mouth open, as if genuinely exclaiming, “There you are! I’m so happy to see you!” In fact, that is exactly what I imagined him to be saying every time I entered my octagonal shaped bedroom and looked at him hanging there on the wall, so comforting, so loyal, so safe.
“Who’s Steve Mountain?”
It wasn’t until second grade when I insisted on properly pronouncing the word “fart” that I’d begin to pronounce my “r’s” like a real-live human being from planet earth. I couldn’t fault her for mistaking “Martin” for “Mountain” (although, I believed the choice should have been quite obvious).
“It’s not Steve Mountain. It’s Steve Moutain. He’s behind me on the posto! I’m a Wiiiiild and Cwayzay Guy!” My earliest celebrity impersonation, performed unrestrained to no avail.
Julie, apparently, had never seen Saturday Night Live, which was not an optional viewing choice in our home. It was a requirement. I don’t know what kind of standards they were operating on in her home, but I certainly was not impressed. Steve had hosted SNL an unprecedented seven times by the time I turned five, just enough times for an obsessive child to become, well, pretty obsessed with him. He’d also had a cameo in Jim Henson’s The Muppet Movie (another obsession of mine), playing an insolent waiter. I sometimes wonder if I attached to Steve as I would have my real father, who disappeared when I was three.
This was my first time allowing anyone into my little “Steve Moutain” secret world, although thankfully, Julie was such a logical thinker, even at three, it seemed my strange choice in sleeping partner passed right over her sophisticated little head, never to be mentioned again. I blushed uncontrollably - a characteristic I, to this very day, have never gained control of.
Being five years old, and having the idea that a thirty-seven year old man with white hair and a dashing sense of style and humor was under my bed is probably something I should discuss with my therapist, as most would find it a tad on the creepy side. (I can’t say I would have minded it in my older single days, although I can’t imagine him feeling all that comfortable hiding under there day after day at his age – he has things to do, after all. The man’s a genius.) What was he doing under my bed? Well, hiding, I suppose, until it was time to go to sleep. Then he would crawl up onto the bed, give me a warm squeeze, then fall asleep next to me, making “the dark” not such a scary locale after all. Steve Martin was my comforting, invisible friend.
Either we’re all born with a “type” or my pal Mr. Martin set a precedent for me that I’d take with me in to my adulthood. He had those eyes, the ones that hold a great intensity, as if they are so interested in what is before them that if not for the physiological build of the eyelids, they might jump out and explore, maybe even gobble you up. Jerry Lewis had those eyes, George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Jim Carrey, Peter Sellers, and the boy I had a seven-year crush on through junior high and high school (although unlike the others his seemed to dim with age, possibly due to being deemed “Most Likely To Succeed” in the sixth grade yearbook – that’s a rough one to uphold). You can almost read their brains. Creators. It’s as if an entire library lies right beneath the surface of them and I want to dive in through the pupil, make myself comfortable and meditate on each and every word. The sorrow, the joys, the crushing embarrassments, I want it all, and I can remember I was drawn to those eyes even as a little girl.
Julie had a yellow gingham blanket she affectionately named “Meemers”. Julie refused to sleep without Meemers. Meemers couldn’t play the banjo, tell jokes, nor juggle kittens (at least not with any prowess). Meemers was an acceptable security item for a three-year-old girl. My choice, an accomplished actor/musician/comedian . . . not so much. Though in secret, I was convinced I was the coolest kid on the block and I didn’t need that stupid nightlight anyway, thank you very much.
Excerpt from chapter five | dear mr. fantasy | Everything's Hunky Dory: A Memoir