September 20th, 2009
Spending the last few days with my 10 month old nephew and 3 year old niece inspired a welcome combination of creativity and nostalgia. After reenacting the music of Les Misérables with the Sesame Street dolls(gripping shit), I cuddled with my niece and watched the movie “Annie”. This musical has proven to be a constant throughout my life. There is simply no escaping it.
1) At 5 years old, my family took a vacation to New York City and saw “Annie” live on Broadway. This was back when Times Square was dangerous and Iron Maiden's debut self titled album “ Iron Maiden” was released. Just a little trivial trivia for you. You can thank Wikipedia.
2) At 9 years old, my family ventured to see everyone’s favorite orphan again in Greensboro, North Carolina’s community theater production. My father’s coworker’s dog was making his stage debut as Annie’s beloved furry companion, Sandy. His real life name was Fred Mertz( named after the landlord on "I Love Lucy".) Yes, we went to support the dog. The canine persevered due to his Stanislavski training at the kennel.
3) At 22 years old, I was invited to see the play again with my aunt and younger cousin during its Broadway revival . Nell Carter(The sassy housekeeper in the 80’s sitcom “Gimme a Break!”) played Ms. Hannigan, the tyrannical drunk who runs the orphanage. It seemed like an odd casting choice because all my other “ Annie” experiences had a skinny older white woman playing this character(including the iconic and brilliant Carol Burnett in the movie. ) But Nell gave us a lively and spirited performance . I was satisfied.
Earlier today, while cozily watching the movie with my 3 year old niece, I had the good kind of déjà vu chills and my heart was wonderfully full. Several times, we would just look at each other, scrunch our shoulders up to our ears and giggle. I don’t take any blissful connections lightly. This bonding experience has already been stored in my favorite moment piggy bank.
I am compelled to write a hand written thank you letter(that I will scan and then email) to the people who conceptualized A-N-N-I-E. The problem is that this character has been around many decades(originally featured in a comic book) and has earned herself too many handlers to choose from. For the sake of continuity, I will express my gratitude to Johnson and Phillips. I introduced them to you in “Day 16 - Bacon Fetish”. They are reoccurring fictionalized (but real in my heart) ahead of their time marketing executives with a mutual interest in each other’s wives and unsubtle sexual innuendo for each other.
It’s safe to assume that Ms. Annie was invented in a Manhattan board room like so: (and if you have your doubts..all I ask is that you just allow yourself to believe…)
JOHNSON: Phillips I got it! Annie will be a fiery young orphan girl who lives in a miserable orphanage where every child just happens to be blessed with remarkable singing and dancing talent.
PHILLIPS: So.. like Fame..but an orphanage.
JOHNSON: I love it! Phillips, sometimes I just want to lick you in a way that might result in shame and self-loathing. OK, so this little girl will have a red Afro and an affinity for stray dogs. Her seemingly hopeless situation improves drastically when she is chosen to live with a rich bald Republican. We’ll call him Diddy Warbucks. NO. Daddy Warbucks!
PHILLIPS: Like Different Strokes”..just not with two African American boys being picked up at a playground by another rich white man in a limo to live in a deluxe Manhattan penthouse.
JOHNSON : Phillips, if you were heroine..I’d shoot you into my veins. With a dirty needle. Back to Annie! Her charm will obviously inspire Franklin Delano Roosevelt to accompany her in her signature show tune “Tomorrow”.
PHILLIPS : This will provoke the viewers to ask , “Was FDR a musical theater major?”
JOHNSON: Goddamn Phillips..you’re as genius as your wife is flexible. Let’s adopt an Asian baby.