Dear Mrs. Vera,
Who will you miss more, Margaret Thatcher or Annette Funicello?
Epcot Correctional Institute
There was an extra-long line snaking its way towards my advice booth by the hot dog stand on the corner of Stockyard Avenue and Ronald Reagan Memorial Sewage Treatment Plant Boulevard last week, and Walter’s ditzy question was the one on everyone’s patient lips or, in some cases, spelled out in SpaghettiOs™ on welcome mats by those unwilling to speak, for whatever reasons they may have — Who am I to judge?
Well there are a hell of a lot of things wrong with that stupid question if you ask me, from a manners perspective of course, because the question makes an awful lot of assumptions about the emotional and professional relationships someone (in my case, me) may have with the deceasy-weasies cluttering up the week’s news. Now, I am here to help any unfortunate soul whose life is falling apart because of some crummy problem they are having, but even I have a limit to my graciousness when those tiny little meatballs rain down on my ecru-feathered business skort-suit because various Frankenmumblies shake their clumpy mud-flaked foot wiper blackboards at me with keen urgency. Let me just say that my dear, old, friend, Dinty Moore, never made a canned stew product which you couldn’t have spelled out the ten commandments with upon a couple of marble tablets while retaining full confidence that you would never have to worry about them being misinterpreted by a civilization from two thousand years in the future, like in that episode of Gilligan’s Island where that unfrozen Caveman kidnapped the Millionaire’s Wife and she made him get her a newer, fancier coconut hat. No thanks!
Now Mrs. Vera firmly believes that asking questions politely is the best way to find out things, especially when there simply isn’t time to pretend you came prepared with made-up answers or, as I like to call them, talking points, which by the way should always be shared pointy-finger-free to avoid rudeness. Unless, of course, you are Disco Dancin’ to Stayin’ Alive while delivering your possibly plausible information. However, I want to set the record straight regarding the ill-mannerednessedness of snide, snarky or sarcastic questions which are based on Nyaah-Nyaah-Nyaahing instead of a genuine passion for knowledge, one that the requirements of civil discourse compel us to comport ourselves with a certain level of dignity akin to like what we was royalty and who’s yer uncle and what a bother and fuss and such. That is, if we hope ever to be invited back, wherever we are at the moment. Also, just smile at Lady Smythe-Warrington a lot if you forget your grape scissors.
But anyway, the brass tacks in the matter is this (are these?): While some people may not know of my history with these two dead Ladies and are simply fishing to see if I lost $10 in the Same-Day Celebrity Death Watch Challenge Pool App, available from the E Network (whatever that is), for download to your smartphone thingy, (which I would never, btw), most everyone else is very familiar indeed with our joined court cases adjudicated at The Hague in 2003, wherein each of us accused the other two of being the same person doing smelly performance art to make regular folks look like dum-dums. Each of us was utterly convinced the other two were impostering each other, and that included me being either half a Mousketeer or a partial Iron Lady! Can you imagine that? Well, we did. Ugh. Google away, you will not find one photo of the three of us together, nor of any two of us together, nor of any two halves of either of our six possible halves in a photo with Dr. Smith from Lost in Space. You will find no evidence of any of these meetings, but go ahead and look anyway. I’ll wait.
All right, then. Well, when all three of us showed up for the trials, our cases kind of fell apart, and how. Annette and I made up (she stole Godzilla, my one true love, from me in the late ’60s, but it turns out he was a cold-blooded, lying (on a rock) S.O.B. who only loved us for our ‘wilty lettuce’ (his term), and we laughed when Annette joked about how the only thing either of us should pick when it comes to men are our own noses, which was kind of gross but I laughed anyway because it was actually pretty true. Ms. Funicello was very real that way, extremely unpretentious, and it felt really good to finally bury that hatchet we both fought so long and hard and cinematically thrillingly for, but somehow it had remained always just out of our reaches. Through it all, I must admit that it was really hard not to like her (despite all the petty public spats and other ugly footwear she tended to favor), even during the time when I believed she personally set out to- and did destroy the prospects of England’s working poor, so as to benefit the ‘personal liberty’ of the weirdly toothed wealthy to be ever more so. Before the case went to trial, I was convinced Annette was stretching herself as an actress, by pretending to be Mr. Ed with boobs. But a more buxomly, neatly tailored Mr. Ed, one with a raging desire to crush, unapologetically, anyone who couldn’t worship profit with an upper lip as sweaty as hers was at the mere thought of having and keeping more, more, more of it in the grasping, wrinkled claws of people she knew, and out of the tiny, grubby little hands of sick coal miners’ orphans. I can’t say I thought much of Annette’s new, icy, corporate-enabling character, but I was amazed by her total commitment to it, and how she ground-breakingly established that women could, in fact, do any of the awful, terrible things traditionally seen as male responsibilities, and that women could perform these abuses just as well as any of the men who have subjugated them for centuries and centuries have ever done.
I think what creeps me out the most about Margaret Thatcher, besides the late night filthy phone calls she hounded me with for decades, was that while Annette Funicello publicly cleared herself from the notion that she was England’s Prime minister for x number of blah-de-blah many years, Margaret Thatcher never went on the record to officially recant the possibility that she was one and the same person as Annette Funicello.
This is ONE of the many reasons that, to this day, I remain convinced that somehow, for some reason, The Iron Lady actually did manage to maintain a secret, Banksy-like (but evil) double life where she performed staged recreations of tedious, saccharin cheers in black-and-white make-up, wearing mouse ears and a girl’s skirt (kinky Victorian much?), and also made a series of insipid, crowd-unpleasing and theater-clearing beach movies wearing polka-dotted swimwear (just like Minnie Mouse!). Why? Next time you watch one of Annette’s joyful celluloid romps, look closely to see if it is one of the British cellulose duplicates featuring Margaret Thatcher. See if you can spot the differences between the late 90’s re-uncolorized Thatcher looky-likeys and the Funicellastic originals. And again I must ask: Why?
What really upsets me the most about this week’s impertinent question, however, involves my own soul-crushing guilt at accepting a contract to assassinate both Mrs. Thatcher and Mrs. Funicello, at the behest of Annette herself, a double hit she made me swear to perform. I vowed that I would do this dread deed for her. I vowed this to Annette in a novelty Roger Ebert office set, while she was wearing a novelty Roger Ebert mask and trying to get a gig writing movie reviews. This was back when I was in Chicago two years ago.
Clearly, my failures in performing these simple tasks, despite multiple attempts, is an embarrassment that I alone must live with, now. My personal shortcomings of two wandering eyes and incurable hiccups, to my chagrin, undeniably demonstrates that, when it comes to Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello, I miss them both absolutely equally, and every time.
To be completely honest, Roger Ebert is the one that, in the final count, I will really end up as having missed most often, and I do wish he and Annette were still with us. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Mrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!