December 2015 archive

Merry Christmas, Richard Simmons!

I am so behind in life right now it’s embar­rass­ing. We are get­ting ready to move in less than a week, it is Decem­ber 17, my Elf hasn’t even shown up yet. There is no Thomas Fam­i­ly Christ­mas Card. I am a mess. But, not too much of a dis­as­ter to wish a very Mer­ry Christ­mas to the man who has made a dif­fer­ence in my life. Slow your roll friends, this is not a sap­py shout out to my hus­band and the father of my Hand­somes, my amaz­ing dad or even any of my broth­ers. But if you know any­thing about me, you know that this sil­ly lit­tle sprite made an impres­sion on my heart 20 years ago and I have nev­er been the same.

June 1995. No Inter­net, no cell phones, a few dozen cable chan­nels and a stack of ads clut­ter­ing the kitchen table. There were no text alerts or emails offer­ing 20 per­cent off a pur­chase in the next 10 min­utes. If you want­ed to know what was hot and on sale, you mulled through page after thin, grimy page of glossy ads. Sec­ond only to the Have You Seen Me? cards that I painstak­ing­ly stud­ied just to be sure that no one in my class was liv­ing with a group of secret psy­chopaths, I loved those ads. I liked to look at Tar­get and Wal­greens, but my very favorite week­ly was Ven­ture. There was some­thing about the black and white stripes that was sort of mem­o­riz­ing.

Richard simmons

One par­tic­u­lar Sun­day as I watched Zach and Kel­ly head to the Max and break up, again, I mind­less­ly scanned the Post Dis­patch. When I got to the mid­dle of the Ven­ture ad I near­ly had a heart attack. There he stood tanned and flash­ing those pearly whites like no one else could. His brown locks posi­tioned per­fect­ly on his head and his brown eyes pierc­ing a hole right into my heart. I was so tak­en aback that his pic­ture was right there in the mid­dle of the women’s cloth­ing spread that I near­ly missed that he would be com­ing to vis­it St. Louis the next week.

Holy hell in a hand­bag! There was no way that my six­teen-year-old self was going to miss this. It was a dream come true and I could hard­ly con­tain myself. In order to make this a real­i­ty, my moth­er had to take the day off of work. But, she too, knew that this was a once-in-a-life­time expe­ri­ence and want­ed in. We recruit­ed two of my three broth­ers and my Nani, who nev­er missed a good time, and we were off.

The appear­ance was sched­uled for noon, but I knew that if we weren’t there when the store opened, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in fiery hell that we would even be able to get near him. Secu­ri­ty would cer­tain­ly be beefed up for such a big celeb, so we couldn’t risk it! As I round­ed the cor­ner to make my way down the long aisle to the Women’s Depart­ment, I was in a total state of shock. There was only one per­son there! It was the best moment of my life. I was going to be up close and per­son­al and in the front of the line.

After what seemed like hours. It was seri­ous­ly like four, the crowd had mul­ti­plied over and over and it was just about time for him to arrive. I could feel the but­ter­flies in my stom­ach. What would I say? What would I do? OMG, what if he doesn’t like me? Sud­den­ly, there was a burst of sound like a huge thun­der clap. I turned as he appeared at the end of the aisle. It was as if he was sur­round­ed by angels singing and a burst of light beamed from his wings as he began to prance down the aisle. I was over­come, awestruck, I thought I would faint. There was noth­ing that I could do to con­trol myself, the tears just start­ed to fall.

I wasn’t the only one. Legions of fans sur­round­ed him, tot­ing signs, books and VHS tapes. The all want­ed a part of the man who had changed their lives. They want­ed to thank him for mak­ing them smile when they need­ed it the most. They want­ed to hug him and give back the feel­ing of uncon­di­tion­al love and accep­tance that he had shown them. Some even want­ed to rip his short shorts, but their wasn’t enough time. As quick­ly as he had made it down the aisle, he was up on stage singing, laugh­ing and sweat­ing.

The con­sum­mate hap­py man with encour­ag­ing words and a pos­i­tive atti­tude that could rival any man­u­fac­tured tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ty was there to do what he did best, make peo­ple smile, and smile we did. Well, some of us ugly cried before we were old enough to tru­ly under­stand what an ugly cry is, but I digress. In that store, in that moment moment in time, we were a unit­ed front of hap­py fans. There was no judge­ment about who we were, what we looked like or what we stood for.One sin­gle per­son was able to make so many peo­ple feel good about them­selves just by being him­self.

As I walked out the door that day I felt blessed. I was hum­bled by the out­pour­ing of love by one per­son for every­one in that line. It was gen­uine car­ing, gen­uine con­cern, the kind that is absolute­ly impos­si­ble to fake. It was a hap­py day for so many, one that we will like­ly nev­er for­get.

Today, I read some­thing that made me sad. Real­ly, real­ly sad. The kind of sad that makes you hurt a lit­tle. Richard Sim­mons has not been seen in near­ly two years. He is suf­fer­ing in some way and is appar­ent­ly no longer leav­ing his home, accord­ing to a sto­ry on TMZ. This man has devot­ed his entire life to mak­ing oth­ers smile, but for some rea­son, his joy is gone. It’s trag­ic, real­ly.

Sure, peo­ple make fun of him because of the way he looks, the way he dress­es and the way he acts. Yep, he is flam­boy­ant. His shorts are short and his tanks are tight. But, his heart is huge. Richard has devot­ed his life to mak­ing oth­er peo­ple feel good and to live a hap­pier and health­ier life. I chal­lenge any one of us to sim­ply treat our own fam­i­ly mem­bers with that kind of com­pas­sion and kind­ness, not an easy task.

I am one fan. One insignif­i­cant per­son with a sto­ry even more insignif­i­cant. I was nev­er mor­bid­ly obe­se. I haven’t been hos­pi­tal­ized because of my weight. I have nev­er been des­per­ate seek­ing help so that I don’t die. Many of the hearts that Richard has touched have been in worse predica­ments than this. I was just inspired by some­one who cares about oth­ers and has a pos­i­tive atti­tude.

When I update my blog, which is embar­rass­ing­ly infre­quent­ly, I nor­mal­ly just talk about my kids and the fun­ny things that the say. Of course, I also point out all of the dumb things I do too, just to be fair. But today, I have a mis­sion, I want to Ral­ly for Richard. He needs love and hugs and prayers. Whether you have nev­er been Sweat­in’ to the Oldies or had to Deal a Meal, I would be will­ing to bet that at the very least, you laughed until you cried when he was on,‘Whose Line is it Any­way?’

 

For the record, the above account, total­ly hap­pened. I cried like a baby, like, I could bare­ly con­sole myself. It was so bad that the only thing that I could do to calm myself down was walk across the Ven­ture park­ing lot to Wendy’s for a quick burg­er, fries and a Frosty to wash it all down.

collrich

Years lat­er Hand­some #1 had his first celeb encoun­ter at Wal­greens