Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oprah! Oprah! Oprah!

I don't know why, but Iris uber Alles has been a passionate Oprah follower since she learned of Oprah's existence. Neither the Sober Husband nor I have any idea how she became so fixated on Oprah. To this day the Sober Husband has never watched an entire Oprah episode (Iris forced him to watch most of the episode about the dangers of using cellphones while driving and bullied him into signing Oprah's "No Phone Zone" pledge). Likewise I had never seen the Oprah show (I'm not much of a television watcher in general. It's extremely rare for me to voluntarily turn on a television). But somehow Iris became a fan.

In the second grade, Iris was supposed to make a painting in art class of an imaginary planet, and she created "the Oprah Planet", populated by Oprahs. This picture (and the pillow made with the same images) disturbed all of the white people who saw it in our house, inspiring guilt and shame in the white liberal heart. It begged the question: had the Sober Husband and I unwittingly raised our child in such a racist way that black people looked like space aliens to her? I wanted to tack up a disclaimer that we'd had African American families over to our house and that this was not my fault. Eventually we tactfully moved the painting, but not before I'd shamefully blurted out to people looking at it with an eyebrow raised, "I really tried to raise her in a multicultural environment."

But of course the adults' reactions and worries were all baseless. Iris didn't think Oprah looked like a space alien. She just loved Oprah. By the age of 10, Iris was using her own saved-up allowance to pay for a subscription to O magazine. She was hounding her parents to apply to be on the Oprah show (I have sent in applications for shows themed "my parents need a makeover", "worst dressed couples in America", "my dream is to meet a celebrity", etc.., etc... at Iris's behest, but somehow the producers have failed to select me as a candidate for revamping at Oprah's expense). On a visit to Chicago, her chief desire was to see the Harpo Studios, and she treasured the Oprah flipflops she bought at the gift shop. Her Chicago grandmother sent her Oprah sleepwear, which Iris wears nearly every evening (this grandmother, not an Oprah fan, asked me about Iris's obsession, saying "Where did she get this Oprah stuff from?").

Of course, nothing lasts forever. Back in the eighties I was crushed when the Talking Heads broke up, and so I feel I can relate to Iris's angst as the Oprah show ends this week. Today is the last new Oprah show's airing, and Iris is heartbroken.

Her only consolation is that Oprah herself is moving to our state, and Iris has been agitating for a roadtrip. Again though her parents are failing her. "Iris, I am NOT driving you down to LA to stalk Oprah," I said firmly, as I rejected a plan to spend vacation time lurking outside Ms. Winfrey's SoCal estate. Iris's lips thinned. Clearly if she could, she'd leave us all behind and go off to live the rest of her life with Oprah, "living her best life", as Oprah herself would say.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's a certain spot in north/central MN that Oprah goes to in the summer. Roadtrip there!

Bonus: See if you can spot Tom Cruise, too.

J9 said...

Iris can start planning to apply for a job within the Oprah empire...

J9 said...

Oh, and you could remind her that familiarity breeds contempt.

hughman said...

the part about the painting startling all the white visitors seriously made me LOL.

also, may i suggest to iris that gayle might be a more accessible "in". i'm sure once iris and gayle are BFFs, it would only be a matter of time before she'd become part of their click.

Anonymous said...

This literally made me laugh out loud!

[And, the fact that you have a child who loves Oprah makes me feel better about my child's newfound love of La-Z Boy furniture. Genetics can't overcome everything, I guess.]

Carroll said...

"Iris' lips thinned"

I can so see the disapproving mother of my childhood in that line, Carole!

marketeer said...

It could be worse. I have a friend whose little boy is obsessed with Paula Deen. Instead of writing in for makevoers, imagine having to cook Paul'as recipes to make your child happy.