Virtual FGP Holiday Party

By Jennifer Niesslein

I don’t know about you, but I’m in a much different place than I was last year when we did the first virtual FGP holiday party. But I’m still down for a come-as-you-are party at home because life without silliness is a life only partially lived.

Big hugs to all of you. And without further ado, get your laugh on:

Sue Granzella: I was taught by nuns from Ireland, and they were EXTREMELY competitive about winning the “School Spirit” competition at the town’s yearly basketball tournament. Our poor cheerleaders had to do strange routines to music. (E.g., instead of dancing to music, they spun umbrellas in unison [umbrellas decorated with blue and gold shamrocks for our team name]). I provided the musical accompaniment, playing pop songs on my accordion, with lyrics rewritten by the nuns to fit with the basketball team theme. (I played “Raindrops Are Falling on My Head” while the student body screamed the lyrics “Shamrocks are always out ahead!”)

Kristin Wagner: I applied for our town’s pageant (you got a sponsor so your prom dress was paid for—hell yeah, I’m in) and my application was returned to me for revisions because it was “too militant.” I may have said something about our town being clueless about helping poor people because we were richer than other suburbs. Ended up 2nd runner-up, still got to wave from a float in our town parade. I believe I sang a song from Chicago for my talent and dressed as a pool sharp for my sportswear.

Sunanda Vaidheesh: My best friend and I have attended the world’s largest Harry Potter convention. Twice.

Amy Robillard: I lived in Alaska for a year and worked as a legal secretary full time while I wrote for the weekly alternative newspaper part time. I was the play reviewer despite knowing next-to-nothing about reviewing plays.

Naomi Shulman: I have never liked popcorn. Something about the texture, I think. When I was a kid this always got lots of questions and incredulous responses, and many people would try to get me to try some of their popcorn to see if I liked it the way they made it, so I eventually started telling people I was allergic. For many years my friends accepted I was allergic to popcorn, but not to any other corn products.

Sarah Buttenwieser: I may seem pretty nice. If you want to see my less kind side, wait until I’m tired. I get much cattier then and some of my friends prefer this tired version better. [I’ve met Sarah in person—I’d be delighted to see this side of her. —ed.]

Reyna Eisenstark: The summer when I was 19 I worked as a costumer/dresser on a production of La Cage Aux Folles at the Bucks County Playhouse, which involved ironing 22 men’s shirts every morning and zipping and unzipping gorgeous men out of evening dresses every night.

Carol Paik: I was once a hand model. The technology depicted here will give a clue to how long ago.


Janet Skeslien Charles: My first job out of college was teaching English at a high school in Odessa, Ukraine. I loved it even though I worked full-time and only earned $25 per month.

Ona Gritz: When I was 16, I met Evil Knievel at a casino during a family trip to Las Vegas. He was very chatty and insisted on getting my mailing address. After I got home, he sent me a signed poster.

Katie Rose Guest Pryal: I used to knit, design knitting patterns, dye wool, and spin my own yarn. I was a veritable cottage industry in my little NC cottage. You can still see my knit patterns online. But once I had kids, I somehow didn’t have the time any more.

McKel Jensen: I met Jude Law once while standing in line at an aquarium. He was with his kid who had beautiful curly hair. After I told myself to “play cool” and talk to him, the only word that came out of my mouth was “curls.”

Deesha PhilyawI was a Congressional page (U.S. House of Representatives) during the first half of my junior year in high school. I lived in the page dorm 2 blocks away from the Capitol and went to school from 6 am to 9 am every morning in the attic of one of the Library of Congress buildings. In the course of my tenure on Capitol Hill, I met Johnny Depp (then a 21 Jump Street hearththrob shooting a PSA at the Department of Health and Human Services) and attended Reagan’s last State of the Union address. He really did wear rouge.

Gina Easley [our amazing staff photographer]: I have a rare phobia: leguminophobia—fear of beans. Like most people with leguminophobia, the sight of beans makes feel like I’m going to be sick and I try to avoid seeing or being near them as much as I’m able. Most people think this is weird and hilarious, and it is! But also very real.

Jennifer Munro: I once split my pants open while bowling. Brown corduroys. In college. This tells you a lot about me.

Jennifer Niesslein: I haven’t had business cards in many years. I once offered my contact information to the acclaimed cartoonist Roz Chast on the back of an old grocery list in my purse that almost certainly read something like, “Bananas, Beer, Tampons.”

And we’re out for 2016! Please leave your own in the comments—we could all use some levity.

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9 thoughts on “Virtual FGP Holiday Party

  1. I will giggle all day, envisioning the woman who could only whisper “curls” to Jude Law and his little boy…

  2. I’m late to this party, but…I broke my wrist falling off my bike when I was in fifth grade. Then, when I was 35, I fell off my bike again- and broke the same wrist. (There was a lot of snickering in the ER about how 25 years should be long enough to learn to stay on a bike. Annoying doctors.)

  3. I am a mad whistler. Guys stop me in airports or in line at coffee bars or wherever to comment on my perfect pitch. Except for that one guy in midtown who stood behind me while I whistled my way through the ATM menu. When I grabbed my cash and turned to leave, he took my place and said, “Whistling women, like crowing hens, must surely meet with no good ends.” Such a nasty woman!

  4. I once gave my autograph to a nervous little boy in Los Angeles who approached me in a restaurant with a paper napkin and a pen. His parents were urging him on from a nearby table. I have no idea who they thought I was, and I am now from the distance of decades a little bit sorry that I didn’t ask. Instead, I took his ballpoint pen and scrawled something scrawly on the napkin and gave it back to him with what I hoped was a thousand-watt smile (this is before I had my broken front teeth fixed, so it surely was not). Note that I had an aubergine dye job in my pompadour hairdo, and wore big shoulder pads on a thrift-store white tux jacket, because it was 1983 and I was barely 21. He scampered back to his parents, and they left the restaurant in a cloud of celebrity-sighting joy. Dear kid and parents. I am really sorry. I hope you sold that napkin on eBay for a ton of money. PS who on earth did you think I was??

  5. When I was 23 I was driving down some back roads when I drove past an abandoned parking lot, as I looked over at it I saw a man and woman relaxing in lounge chairs. That in and of itself was a little odd, as there was nothing around anywhere, but smack dab in between them, lying on a blanket, was one of the big five, a gorgeous male lion.

    Needless to say, I whipped my car around, drove into the lot, sat down by the lion and petted him for about 10 minutes. I was so stunned that it never occurred to me to ask them what they were doing there or why they had a lion.

    I just remember his name was Ralphie.

  6. I too am late to the party (I always am), but here’s my brush with fame: in the mid-’90s, I was a summer intern at WBEZ, the public radio station in Chicago, where I was easily the weepiest, most incompetent intern they had ever had. Some other interns were telling me one day that their boss was starting a new radio show to be called “This American Life.” With the keen career instincts that have served me to this day, I thought, “Huh. That sounds dumb.” Little realizing that for the next two decades, everyone I know would shout at me, “YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR OF ‘THIS AMERICAN LIFE’!”

  7. Due to no internet access, I’m VERY late to the party. Still, once I accidentally nailed my own hand to a tree. And then dropped the hammer.

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