Cyndi Lauper: She’s So Unusual

Song: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”

I wouldn’t be anywhere near as girl power if it weren’t for this album.


This song just played in my car as I pulled into my parking spot, and I was instantly sent back to roller skating around the pool in Palm Springs, listening to this song, wondering what boy wasn’t going to mind that I didn’t want to be hidden away, but rather wanted to walk in the sun.

Her songs are about being yourself, even when you’re humiliating yourself, even when you know you’re hurting yourself, because love is that important. “True Colors” was playing the other morning while I was getting ready for work, and I realized it’s because of Cyndi that I’m unafraid to sing in my loudest voice, even if I don’t hit all of the notes, because the passion and the heart are more important.

There’s a cassette tape somewhere of my sister and I singing this song. We were at a Six Flags (I think in Eureka, Missouri), where we sang this with a friend of mine. The flip side of the tape is much more entertaining. Bosie and I sing “Danger Zone” like we invented the song. She had to have been seven; I think I was maybe eleven. We know maybe three of the words, and we have no idea how inappropriate the words are for girls so young. We didn’t care. It was fun to sing.

I used to think of this song as the fluffiest piece of silly. But tonight, having driven home from dinner with some of my Hot Properties friends (“Pam, you look so thin. Don’t they feed you at Mind of Mencia?” “No.”), I found myself listening to the lyrics in a new way. When the working day is done. Never listened to that part before like this. That what part of me is looking for all the time, is fun. It seems so selfish, so childish, to think that when you’re done working hard, you’re looking for fun. I still associate this song with drunk girls taking excuses to hang out of the sunroof of limos. But Cyndi wants to remind us all that when you’re doing busting your ass, the one thing that makes it all worthwhile is the fact that you can laugh. There’s a lot of stress in my life now, and I find that the moments when it all goes away are when I’m laughing so hard I can’t think of anything else. I’m really grateful for those moments.

On my way to dinner, at an intersection where I recently had my car break down, I saw a friend who worked on Mencia with me last season. I pointed at him, and he motioned for me to pull over.

“I hear you guys are working crazy hours.”

“Yeah.”

“How do you make it worth it?”

“I really love who I’m working with.”

“I hope so,” he said. “Because you’re going to end up like that guy.” He pointed at a man standing alone on his balcony in the hills above us.

“Some days, I feel like that guy.”

“I think that guy knows we’re making fun of him.”

“I don’t care.”

These shows become little families for me, and I’m deeply attached to them in probably a way I shouldn’t be. One of the writers didn’t show up tonight, and we talked about how he makes his weekends about his family only, and he probably doesn’t want to do anything even tangentially work-related on the weekends. But he passed up a very nice evening with people I used to spend upwards of sixty hours a week with. I can’t imagine not seeing them anymore, not being a part of their lives. We know about each others’ kids, projects, home improvements, carpets, husbands, struggles. I spent too many years leaving the past behind to get used to the idea that these people I’m working with are supposed to be temporary.

“You look tired,” Jessica said to me Friday night. “Really tired.”

In Vegas, everybody had a comment. “I thought you’d look much worse, having read your website.”

I probably need to do a better job here of explaining that while I feel spread thinner than Kate Moss, I still enjoy what I do. I feel like I’m juggling way too much, and it sometimes feels bigger than me, but I’m trying my best to do everything the right way. I’m trying to embrace the parts that are fun.

Because that’s all a girl wants, after all.