Viv a Little

February 13, 2015

Vivian Vance once presented Lucille Ball with this box...

If you're in a tight spot this Valentine's Day, why not make it an appetite spot?

Chic hostess pants may have gone out of style, but this ladylike anthology comes out in style, in the altogether:

My story in the anthology is called "Be a Gal Pal," and it's about a gal who keeps her eye on the ballthe Lucille Ball, that is; actually, more accurately: the Lucille Ball impersonatorall the while hoping to stop moping about her lack of appeal to the wannabe Lucille.

Grab your tasting spoon and enjoy this sample:

I love Lucy and she loves me not.

She doesn't know I think she's the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas, the living end.

She doesn't know my heart bangs out "Babalu" every time I see her.

She doesn't know I want to hug her and kiss her and wrestle her in a vat of grapes.

She doesn't know.

What she doesn't know can hurt me.

I guess I've got some 'splainin' to do, huh? Yeah, I figured as much. Well, for starters, Lucy isn't really Lucy—she's an incredible simulation. Lucy is actually Roberta and Roberta is a celebrity impersonator. I am too, in a way, because I'm the Ethel in Ethelu, Roberta's entertainment company. It's a fledgling little enterprise, but we've already booked some pretty good gigs: birthday parties, fundraisers, retirement homes.

We premiere next week at Cone Heads, the ice cream parlor that Roberta owns. (No copyright infringement intended, by the way.) Six months ago, the head cone posted a sign in the shop's window. It said Help Wanted. I thought she was looking for someone to sweep or scoop or make shakes. I thought wrong, as you'll see in this transcript of the job interview:

She: Do you have any acting experience?

Me: I have enough trouble just being myself.

She: Can you carry a tune?

Me: How heavy is it?

She: Congratulations. The part's yours.

I felt my insides start to crumble like an ice cream cone. But I put on a happy face, bobbing my head in a nod and stretching my lips into a smile the shape of a banana. In all honesty, even though I really do love Lucy, I never would have auditioned in the first place or accepted in the second place if my leading lady weren't such a looker.

Roberta is hardly a dead ringer for Lucille Ball. Well, they're both natural brunettes, but Roberta looks more like a cross between Jo from The Facts of Life and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She is slender but not skinny, with skin the color of French vanilla and eyes the color of a root beer float. Her beauty is just so… appallingly authentic.

I'd never even eaten at Cone Heads until Roberta took over the place. Then I became a regular. I started working my way through the menu, all the while hoping to work my way into her heart, her head, her bed.

I haven't succeeded. See, the trouble is I'm terrible at sending out signals and even worse at picking them up.

Roberta and I rehearse after hours. When we're finished, we unwind, and that's when the shenanigans begin. Roberta will flip on the jukebox and we'll sing into scoopers, belting out sock hop tunes like "It's My Party" and "The Loco-Motion."

One time, we were sharing a sundae, and I got chocolate sauce on my face—Roberta leaned over and licked it off my cheek. She said she saw a picture of Desi doing that to Lucy right after they filmed the chocolate factory scene in "Job Switching" and wouldn't it be cute to copycat.

Well, what do you think? Is she dropping hints? Is this desire in disguise?

Is this desire in its birthday suit?

No wonder I got the part. I am Ethel Mertz. If I were Lucy, I wouldn't be interested in me either. What's so appealing about a gal who is dutiful and diffident? Who shadows you like Mary's little lamb in a never-ending game of Follow the Leader? Ethel is the patsy, the underdog, the bottom to Lucy's top (so to speak). She's the sidekick, plain and simple, and nobody ever gets a kick out of the sidekick. I mean, with Lucy, you think: What's not to love? With Ethel, it's: What's the point? 

I guess the point is that the situation doesn't have to be hopeless. I don't have to settle for a relationship where the intimacy is purely platonic. I don't have to be the second banana first, last, and always. I don't have to—

"Our costumes are almost finished!"

I don't have to go on.

Neither do I.


My excerpts go by the book.

Go buy the book.

Or... wait and try your hand at winning a copy of the collection tomorrow, when Lizzie McMullen's Bedtime Stories presents the Valentine's Special, a no-het fete of Sapphic storytelling.

In conclusion, I suggest that this Valentine's Day, you take a Vance on romance and get the Ball rolling.

In the hay.

Curiouser and curiouser,
Allison Wonderland