Hey, I'm Stephanie Sparer. I blog for Hello Giggles but I can be seen at StephanieSparer.com and on twitter. I'm currently looking for a job, so feel free to hire me. Special talents include: knowing the lyrics to Miley Cyrus' song "Party in the USA" and being addicted to Earl Grey tea. Oh, also I can write really well. Just ask my mom.
I’ve always been a night owl. Even as a kid I was fond of staying up, what I considered late at the time, and watching Letterman’s top ten list. I always felt like an adult watching Letterman even though I must have been all but nine. Something about his gapped teeth and movie star guests screamed mature to me. And at ten, that’s really all I ever wanted to be. A movie star. Not so much mature. “One of my special talents is staying up all night,” I used to tell people. To me this felt special and unique; something a lot of my friends didn’t do unless they were at one of the sleepovers Tiffany Billings threw that I wasn’t invited to.
My mother wasn’t entirely thrilled with this special talent of mine. To keep me on a regular schedule and to keep me from fighting it, my mom put out a little lie to me, “Letterman only does the top ten on Fridays,” she said. And I believed her until a few years later when I was sick and up later than usual and Letterman had a top ten list. On a Wednesday. “Must be a repeat,” my mom tried to cover her tracks, but by then, I totally knew how to check our TiVo guide and get the facts.
This wasn’t the only thing my mother lied about. As a young kid, maybe six, I decided that I didn’t like chicken anymore. I only wanted to eat duck. Seemed reasonable at the time. This of course was brought on after a 20/20 special where someone got sick from eating chicken. That was kind of my thing as a kid. I wouldn’t watch Fraggle Rock, but I’d watch 20/20 every Friday and scare myself into thinking I was going to be kidnapped, poisoned with anthrax, or killed at any given moment. In fact, shortly after a story about how someone bombed a Texaco gas station, we stopped at a Texaco to fill our car with gas. Little me burst into tears in the back seat and said, “Good-bye, everyone.” My mother got back in the car utterly confused and asked me what happened. “We’re going to die as soon as you start the car!” I told her and she sighed.
“Different Texaco!” she insisted, but I didn’t believe her until we were already home. Three days later. She vowed never to let me watch John Stossel or his mustache give any special news reports ever again.
Obviously, this didn’t work. I saw the E. coli special one night and after that, every time my mom ordered out from the Asian rice bowl chain restaurant around the corner from us when she didn’t want to cook, I always asked her to order me duck with my rice. Not chicken. Duck. She always complied, coming home and double-checking the bowls. “This one is yours,” she’d say, picking out a bowl for me after opening all the Styrofoam containers and comparing them together. I’d happily eat my rice and duck.
Years later, my mother grabbed me out of 11th grade science class as a surprise to be nice. We got our nails done and then decided we were hungry, stopping off at the Asian rice bowl chain we used to go to when I was little. I peered at the menu. Chicken, chicken and vegetables, salmon... I looked at my mom, “They took the duck off the menu?”
She bit her lip and started to laugh, “Oh,” she said, “Stephanie, I have something to tell you: you were never eating duck. They only ever just had chicken. You’ve been eating chicken all these years.”
I was sixteen and my entire life was a lie. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Was my name even really Stephanie? Was she even my mother? Was Velveeta really a cheese? Yes, yes, and no. But I guess after that whole E. coli outbreak, really I was just lucky to be alive.