Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) - Mindy Kaling (2011)
My All-Important Legacy
WHEN I WAS six and I saw The Sound of Music for the first time, my favorite part, hands down, was when the Von Trapp children bid farewell to partygoers with their song “So Long, Farewell” from the stairway of their Austrian manor. As an adult, I now see what a terrible example this is for children. It teaches them that adults will be charmed by long, protracted musical good-byes. In fact, all of The Sound of Music inspired a childhood’s worth of my misguided behavior, where I believed people would always be excited to hear me sing.
I memorized the song off our record player. Then, at bedtime, I called my parents to the landing of the stairs in our house so that I could perform it in its entirety. Just me singing all seven kids’ parts, accompanied by no music. Once I finished one child’s part, I disappeared into my bedroom only to reemerge and run down the stairs to pick up the next one’s part. My parents listened patiently until we got to the second kid’s exit.
“Okay, enough of this,” my dad said, and headed up the stairs to shuffle me off to bed.
“We’re only on Friedrich! There are five more Von Trapp children!” I said. This fell on deaf ears. My parents were supportive of my creativity but did not have a lot of patience for whimsy with zero production value. They had stuff to do.
The point is I learned nothing from this experience. Yes, if I’m at a party where I’m not enjoying myself, I will put some cookies in my jacket pocket and leave without saying good-bye. But when I’m having a great time? I like ’em nice and drawn out, Von Trapp-style. I could say good-bye all day. Like a guy putting on his shoes.
Before I leave, I thought I’d answer any remaining questions you might have.
So, you never won any childhood spelling bees? I was under the impression this was a memoir of a spelling bee champ.
It is confusing, I know. Based on my ethnicity, the number of friends I had as a kid, my build, my eyesight, and my desire to please my parents, I should have been the reigning spelling bee champion from ages seven to fourteen. My best guess at an explanation is that my parents were worried I would be just too good a speller and a potential kidnap prospect for anyone watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee on CSPAN-3 in the middle of the afternoon.
Why didn’t you talk about whether women are funny or not?
I just felt that by commenting on that in any real way, it would be tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn’t. It would be the same as addressing the issue of “Should dogs and cats be able to care for our children? They’re in the house anyway.” I try not to make it a habit to seriously discuss nonsensical hot-button issues.
What will your next book be about?
I hope my next book will be about my husband, my kids, my cool movie career, and sharing all the things I learned about since I wrote this book. Like, I’d love to know where my natural lip line is. I still have no clue. Maybe by then I’ll have figured that out.
Not really. I just, I don’t want to say good-bye.
See you guys soon.