My Child Compared Mick Foley To Prince And I Seriously Could Not Be Prouder


Picture the scene. Or don’t picture it. That’s not actually a requirement here. But the scene is me and my 8-year-old son, working on a jigsaw puzzle while the 7-year-old watches Monday Night Raw nearby. Well, he’s partly watching the show and partly engaged with his tablet, building a roller coaster empire. Say what you want about screen time, I honestly do not know how they built Disneyland without it.

So anyway. Everyone is doing their thing and glancing up at WWE on the TV now and then when the 7-year-old says, “Hey! Mom. Mick Foley is on.”

For those of you that don’t know, meaning all of you, Mick Foley is my very favorite WWE wrestler of all time. He’s just brilliant. And funny. And unlike most of his counterparts, he seems to be in a good mood like, all the time. He never swears because he doesn’t see the need for it. He’s never been really anything like any of the other wrestlers. He was Dude Love, he had a sock puppet, to put it plainly, he IS WHAT HE IS. Period.

“Awww, look at him,” I say now, fondly. “I love that guy. And his pants are a little too short, that’s so cute. You see that?”

“Huh,” say my children. Perhaps a little less than interested.

“No, look,” I tell them. “Really. Those pants! Those pants just make me love him more.”

No one says anything right away, and I figure that will be that. You know kids. You try to throw a lesson at them and they yawn, every time. Of course the lesson here might have been a little unclear or perhaps missing altogether. I mean – occasionally it might be okay if your pants are too short? Is that my lesson? It seems weird. Really when you think about it, it’s probably no wonder they ignore me half the time.

Mick Foley starts talking on the TV screen, and I wonder if he wears his hair so big and bushy in order to hide his right ear, much of which is missing. That doesn’t seem like something he’d do, unless maybe he’s trying to protect the kids. Which would totally make sense. He’s so freaking nice.

“I know why you like Mick Foley so much,” says the 8-year-old. Quite casually.

“Oh, really?” I say, still distracted by my own musings.

“Yeah,” he says. “It’s because he’s like Prince.  Obviously.”

My heart stops beating and my lungs stop breathing. Well not really. But for a moment I feel like nothing but a semi-animated corpse with a puzzle piece clutched in its hand. I stare at my kid.

“What?” I say.

“You know,” he tells me. “Like, he wears what he wants. He acts like himself. Like Prince.”

He goes back to the puzzle as if nothing unusual has happened. As if comparing these two men is something that 3rd graders do on a regular basis. As if a child understanding something a parent has told them is totally normal.

Unless you are a goat with human eyes. Then you may want to make some changes.
Unless you are a goat with human eyes. Then you may want to make some changes.

BE HOW YOU ARE. This is something I have told my kids maybe 17 million times. 14 million of those were right around the time that Prince died.

“Why do you like him so much?” they asked me, as Purple Rain played out on the TV. “He dresses like a girl.”

“Exactly,” I said. “Look at him. That’s a man who said, I don’t care what you think of me, I’m gonna be how I am and you can take it or leave it.”

“He’s weird.”

“Lots of people thought he was weird. Lots of other people loved him. Because it doesn’t matter how you are, someone will always think you’re weird but someone else will think you’re the coolest thing ever. The ‘someone elses’ are your friends. You don’t need to bother with the ones who think you’re weird, you just need to be how you are, be how you are, BE HOW YOU ARE.”

And what I am pretty sure my kids heard: BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BE HOW YOU BLAH BLAH BLAH. Let’s face it. When your kids are seven and eight, you are the teacher from Charlie Brown. That’s just life but if you’re anything like me, you keep trying anyway.

Here is a photo that came up when I searched on "individuality." These image websites are a mystery to me.
Here is a photo that came up when I searched on “individuality.” These image websites are a mystery to me.

And then one day, your kid notices that Mick Foley is just like Prince. Because even though all he heard was BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BE HOW YOU BLAH BLAH BLAH, he understood. He got it. It is like magic.

And then he goes on to ignore you when you say it’s bedtime, or to push his brother down the stairs, or any one of six thousand other things that go against everything you’ve ever told him. But you know that now you can never give up, because you have seen a miracle happen. And so you keep telling him about being kind and trying his hardest and taking responsibility and so on. And then you sit back for the next 12 or so years and relive that Mick Foley/Prince moment, because it’s probably the only one you’ll get until your kids are well out of college and living on their own and thinking that “take responsibility” is something they thought up all on their own.

But, you know. You take what you can get and you don’t complain, because no one likes a whiner. Which reminds me, there’s something I wanted to tell my kids.

All you parents out there, keep up the good fight. Charlie Brown might actually be listening.


If You’ve Ever Thought About Which Golden Girl You’d Be, Then We Should Probably Be Friends

If I ever have to explain “cognitive dissonance” to my children, I will do it by telling them about my desire to one day be a Golden Girl.  Yes, I am referring to The Golden Girls of television fame, one of whom was Betty White, my idol and inspiration.

Somebody buy me this.

This dream of mine is a problem because it effectively eliminates my husband Jim from the picture, either via death or divorce, and the fact is I’m pretty uncomfortable with having that as a goal.  It’s not my goal.  My first dream in life, actually since 1985 (coincidentally the year The Golden Girls premiered), is to be very elderly with Jim, sitting in rocking chairs near the ocean while he mostly tries to ignore me but occasionally says things like “No, you’d make a terrible hockey coach, that’s a stupid question.”  That’s my real dream.  I guess what I’m saying is that if that one falls through, THEN I want to be a Golden Girl. Only then.

If nothing else, this post will be a good way to see if the aforementioned husband actually reads my blog.  Dear Jim:  blink twice if you are mad at me now.  I already have visions in my mind of you blinking twice.  You never did have any imagination.

Anyway.  The Golden Girls is often playing on the TV in the community room of my dad’s nursing home, which is what really led me to think about this in the first place.  I like to get my dad to the community room because I think it’s good for him.  On the way there we might pass a tiny old lady with a walker or an elderly gent in a wheelchair and my dad will smile at them and pat them on the shoulder and say, “You look good!” or “Nice to see you!”  He doesn’t know it and I’m certain he doesn’t mean to be, but I do believe my dad is good for the morale around that place.  Much like The Golden Girls.

Look at Sophia in the background!
Look at Sophia in the background!

Did you know that Estelle Getty was actually younger than Bea Arthur and Betty White?  That would be like someone hiring Shailene Woodley to play my mom in the Epic Retirement Comedy of 2031.  But Estelle Getty totally killed it as Sophia.  All those ladies did.  They all won Emmys, did you know that?  Also, Rue McClanahan was originally supposed to play Rose, and Betty White would have been Blanche.  I’m sure it would have been fine either way, but if you ask me this was the single most inspired casting switcheroo in all of show business history.

If I actually do become one of The Golden Girls, I’d most love to be Betty White’s Rose, for obvious reasons, or maybe Blanche.  Those two just seem to have the most fun.  In reality I suspect I’d more likely be Dorothy.  Possibly Sophia.  Which I guess would be just as fun, because at least I’d get to live with Rose and Blanche.  Also, if I were Dorothy I’d get some of the funniest lines.  Here’s an example:

Blanche:  Can you believe it!  After four long years, my baby girl is finally coming to see me.  I’m so happy I could cry.

Rose:  But Blanche, you are crying.

Dorothy:  [I’m pretty sure she rolls her eyes here] Admit it, Rose, you worked for Allied Intelligence during World War II.

Rose:  Huh?

Dorothy:  Fine.  Play it cagey.

Play it cagey!  I’m just saying, that is some good script-writing, right there.  Sadly most of the patients on my dad’s unit can no longer appreciate the subtle humor of the show.  Still, I think it’s a positive influence, because it’s lighthearted and cheery and stars people who are well over 30.  You have to admit, that show had a good vibe.  Do people even say “good vibe” anymore?  Probably not.  God.  Maybe I’m already in my Golden Girl era and just don’t know it.

They're the best.
They’re the best.

My dad always seems particularly interested when Betty White comes on the screen, perhaps because it reminds him of The Match Game, circa 1975 or so.  Back then you pretty much had to watch whatever was on and truth be told, The Match Game was pretty funny.  I like when my dad has memories.  Once, we were watching some 1950’s black-and-white show which in one scene featured a busy street with gigantic Ford Skyliners and Chevrolet Bel Airs all over the place.  My dad said, “Hey, that’s Homestead!”  It was not Homestead, at least not as far as I know.  But my dad always seems so happy to recognize something, to actually be taken back in time instead of living in the forever present.  “How about that,” I said.  “Homestead looked good!”  It’s enough to break your heart, it really is.

As likely to be Homestead as anywhere else.
As likely to be Homestead as anywhere else.

Maybe that’s the thing about The Golden Girls – maybe it takes me back to a time when I was younger and not in charge of anything, when my dad didn’t have Alzheimer’s and would laugh when Rose said, “Can I ask a dumb question?” and Dorothy said, “Better than anyone I know.”  Back when I wasn’t signing papers on my dad’s behalf saying that yes, it’s okay for the podiatrist to cut his toenails.

That’s kind of gross, even to me.  Maybe I shouldn’t have written it.  Too late now, just try not to think about it.  And back to The Golden Girls, I don’t think that “taking me back to a simpler time” is the show’s appeal at all.  No, The Golden Girls was not about nostalgia.  To me, it was about living where you are and going with it, even if you’ve had a stroke and your retirement home burned down, even if others may say you’re too old for a racy negligee, even if you’re way taller than your roommates and somewhat crabby about it. Even if, I guess, you’re not in St. Olaf anymore.

Note to my friends:  I do have a few of you in mind, as co-stars in my (alternate) dream life.  I’m thinking of starting the auditions in around 15 years, so you might want to start catching up on your reruns now.  Also, don’t text and drive because in order for this to work, we all need to be alive.  And thank you for being a friend.