Like most every kid with even a hint of dramatic flair, I began rehearsing my Oscar acceptance speech when I was seven. I thanked my dog, Crowley, for having a wet nose; my first grade teacher Mrs. Bowes who married suddenly and mysteriously quit her job; and of course my mom, who always got me to school on time and never stopped making me sandwiches.
Once I made it all the way to Hollywood and began pursuing screenwriting in earnest, I decided that should my time ever come I would proudly take the stage in my plus-sized gown from off the rack at Macy’s Woman and thank the people who hadn’t helped me get there. Though my true purpose would be to come across as gracious and forgiving, in actuality I’d have created the opportunity of a lifetime to savor the lingering bitterness I had no intention of letting go.
In the interest of time I might have to group them together, offering a grateful shout-out, for example, to the psychotic Internet dates who inspired me to focus exclusively on my career. Every no-talent anorexic in film school offering an uninvited script note or helpful bit of dieting advice would surely deserve a thumbs up from the podium. And how coud I neglect the legions of collection callers clogging my answering machine with urgent messages about our shared need to discuss a personal business matter. Certain individuals, however, deserve my singling them out for a heartfelt expression of gratitude…
To The Smug Overpaid Sitcom Weenie, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for failing to staff me on your short-lived, crap-ass, racist show after repeatedly promising to do so since we were kids. If not for your being a fraud, a user and a liar, I might never have written the spec script that launched my career in features, placing me significantly higher than you on the Hollywood food chain right out of the starting gates. I do look forward to denying ever knowing you to anyone who might ask, despite the fact that you are my brother-in-law.
To The Greedy Foreign Landlord, allow me to express my gratitude for your surprise illegal eviction of me after ten years in my rent-controlled Hollywood bungalow. The ten thousand dollars in damages you were forced to pay made it possible for me to survive the crucial months prior to my big break, a period in which I might have found myself back home in Umatilla working at The Home Depot.
To The Braless Warner Brothers Television Executive, how adorable it is that you married well, retired and took the mommy track only months after torpedoing my career. Had you not perceived an offhanded joke about a shortage in the world lingerie supply as a personal insult, my future might have been damaged beyond repair as a result of being staffed on The Brian Benben Show.
Finally, I thank The Estranged Brother On A Far-Off Tropical Island, who so frequently wrote to assure me, and I quote, that Hollywood’s “square peg” would never find a place for my “round hole,” so fondly comparing my knack for storytelling to your talent for lighting your own farts. How is it that of all the recent congratulations I received from perfect strangers in the blogosphere, I did not hear a peep from you? I do hope you have not inadvertently set your ass on fire.
Yes, all that was bitchy, even if it is the gospel truth. The good news is after all these years I’m still able to feel at all, even if it is only a twinge of guilt for telling it like it is. I suppose one of the most troubling things about surviving rejection is that it tends to numb you against feeling even the good stuff. I couldn’t have known that wallowing in failure might well be easier than reveling in success because I went so long without achieving any. I’m well aware that bitterness is wrong and bad, not to mention sinful and unattractive, but it works very well for chocolate and at least my brand isn’t fattening.