Day 318: Haunted by the Magic Mirror

I blame my overly anxious need for acceptance on Romper Room.  Do you know it?  Did you ever watch it?  Romper Room was a syndicated and franchised preschool learning program that was popular in the 1970s.  Before Nick Jr., before Sprout, before Playhouse Disney, we watched Romper Room.

The structure of the program was similar to modern preschool television shows.  It was an interactive show in which the hostess encouraged the studio children to learn and grow.  Many episodes focused on fitness and nutrition, and of course, in every episode the children had a lesson in either numbers or letters.  To me, the most important part of the program was the ending when the hostess would look through the magic mirror to see if all of the children had fun that day.  She would then name children. “I see Sally, Billy, Tommy, and Joe.  I see Mary, Megan, and Elizabeth.”  At this point, I would usually get on my knees and beg.  Please Miss Sally, please see me.  “I see George, David, Sean, and Lisa.”  She would then conclude with a generic thank you to all of her Romper Room friends.

In the two years that I had interest in this show, she never said my name.  Not once.  I became obsessed.  Why was I overlooked?  Was I not singing the songs loud enough?  Was I not bending far enough?  Did I hesitate to throw out the letter she was asking me to know? Why was I unnoticed?

I was haunted by this magic mirror that did not have the ability to see me.  What was wrong with me?  I vowed to myself at five-years old that I would make myself known.  I did not like the way it felt to be glossed over, to be unrecognized.  I wanted the Miss Sallys of the universe to know me and appreciate what I had to offer.

Fast forward ten years.  I am an incoming freshmen in an all-girls high school all the way across town.  I do not know anyone who attends this school.  The first day, I walked into the cafeteria and I felt fear, actual fear.  Everyone seemed to be chattering and sharing schedules.  I felt that if I did not find some place to sit soon, the entire cafeteria conversation would come to a halt, and every girl would turn and stare at me, the awkward girl in the corner. I sat down at a table with a group of girls who seemed as intimidated as I felt.  We exchanged pleasantries and quickly became friends.  However, these initial friends and I did not have much in common.  They did not like the same music, the same sports, or the same subjects I liked.  Across the cafeteria, I saw the table of Miss Sallys I knew I wanted to befriend.  They were outgoing, which I was, although I was doing a horrible job of showing it.  I spent some time making a name for myself, and before I knew it, I had made real friends, people who were like me.

Fast forward twenty-five years.  I am a blogger, and here I am again feeling like I am on the periphery of the blogger cafeteria looking in.  This community of people all seem to know each other and recognize each other, and seemingly, they are developing real friendships and bonds.  I want to be friends with GoJulesGo who is friends with Angie from Childhood Relived.  I want Tim from Second Lunch to draw for me the way he is drawing for Becca from 25toFly.  So many people are interacting and working together, I want in on the action.  I do not want to sit at the side table eating the granola bar my mom packed.  I want to be with the kids who have been called out by Miss Sallys magic mirror.  They are sharing the last boxes of Twinkies and HoHos as we speak!

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109 thoughts on “Day 318: Haunted by the Magic Mirror

  1. I, too, remember Romper Room; the host in my ‘neck of the woods’ (Southern Ontario) was Miss Fran. She never called my name either (although I used to delude myself into thinking that she meant ‘Margo’ when she said ‘I see Margie’ or ‘I see Margaret'; my name was rather unique for the time). I’ve never considered how this exclusion may have impacted my future ability to ‘be seen’ and/or be part of the ‘in’ crowd, but you may be on to something. I’ve been at this blogging thing for just over two years and have made some good ‘friends’, but it certainly takes time to be noticed and to connect with others (I’ve been Freshly Pressed twice, and that really bumped my views and my followers). Good luck with your ‘post a day’ initiative, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  2. Do I know Romper Room?! Do bears poop in the woods? (The answers are yes and yes!) I was devastated when that show ended and I never, ever got a shout out from Miss Sally. I, too, am at the proverbial blogger loner table. You can sit with me and, if Twinkies weren’t going extinct, I’d share mine with you.

    Come visit anytime you want-
    Wendy at wickedforeign.com

  3. Wow, I remember doing the same thing! Miss Nancy was on when I was young. My brothers and I would watch all the time before school. They were always called–Maureen was not. Great post! Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  4. Pingback: Day 321: Thank You! « Life As I Understand It.

  5. The desperation to be noticed and fit in drives us to change who we are for recognition because we think that is love. But I want someone to love me for me not the contirived watered down version that suits their needs. I, make that we, are incredible, unique, special and perfect just as we are. Stuff the cool in crowd lets make one of our own Misfits United group and come together and show the World that its ok to be different.

  6. You are hearing from loner numero uno eversince high school. I used to be so shy I ate lunch alone many many times in school. But I realized, all that time I was alone, I learned how to entertain myself, cultivate my own creative ideas. It was my Zen monk period. Now I mostly like quiet time alone…mostly until I get an itch to annoy someone. Thank god for my blog.

    Its possible Miss Sally called out my name and I missed it. Oh well. It kinda creeped me out cuz it reminded me of how God was ALways watching me and could see everything I did (childhood brainwashing courtesy my Southern Baptist upbringing). God bless you Miss Sally.
    Quick note: If anyone sees that Magic Mirror for sale on Ebay, drop me a note. Im buying that Sucker!

  7. I never heard her say my name either. Plus, I couldn’t find any of those cool personalized items with my name on them (though they are everywhere now that I have outgrown them, mostly).

  8. Although I remember Romper Room (and Electric Company), it was the last paragraph of this piece that resonated with me. I am new to blogging and while perusing this weirdo blogosphere, can’t help but notice that some people have hundreds of likes and comments and back and forth and others have none–I’m stumped and confused! I want friends too! Congrats on your freshly pressed status, btw!

  9. Such a universal experience and you’ve written it beautifully! I’m happy to have discovered your blog today. Your authenticity makes me want to connect too!

  10. GOOD SHOW (I mean your blog)! Reminds me of the time at Frontier Town (in the Adirondacks, New York State—now it is anothe “Six Flags”) when the “sheriff” passed out badges to go chase after the bad guys and I was THE ONLY ONE LEFT OUT! My Dad came over, got me a badge out of the box and comforted, I could join the fray again. Missed out on the “magic Mirror”—must be because I was in school or watching Captain Kangaroo! :) bythemightymumford.wordpress.com —Jonathan Caswell

  11. We had it in Australia too and guess what? She never called out my name!
    The cool crowd is so busy keeping up with being cool they don’t get to have any real fun. Much more interesting to join in with the others. I think most bloggers are pretty friendly so jump on and comment and away you go!

  12. I still hold a grudge against the Romper Room lady. One day, she said hello, through her magic handheld mirror, to my sister on my left and my brother on my right, but NOT TO ME.
    I’ve been cynical and emotionally tortured ever since. Thanks Romper Room. Thanks a lot.
    Wendy

  13. wow, I still can recite the sing song that goes with the Mirror!! some what, 30 something years later? Can’t remember her calling my name or carrying that away, but I have always been a bit jaded. Great blog. thanks for sharing.

  14. This post time warped me back to those days. My friends and I would have discussions about why we weren’t called. My Mom being who she is suggested I right Miss Sally a letter…Oh, what a time it was. This post was awesome!

  15. I remember that show. I was on it once even. She also did say my name in the magic mirror which my mom later said it was because she wrote them a letter and asked them to do it. So maybe if your mom had written a letter to the show you might have heard your name too. Lol.

  16. Romper Room. Who would have thought that that program would ever be discussed in the year 2012? Honestly, I remember always hating my name because Miss Sally would NEVER have said such an extreme name: Stacey. Egad. Why wasn’t my name Nancy, or Anne, or… you know how it goes. Anyhow, it seems like you turned out to be a good doo-bee after all. There’s another thing – how that word itself has transitioned in it’s meaning. Why, why, why…. can the innocence of such a great term for a good person just be … the same. Anyhow – this is my first introduction to you and so I am one of the many who was “never called” but waited anyhow – “Stacey”. Great memory – thanks!

  17. I remember standing there in front of my families big old dial tube t.v, inches from the screen, hands clasped, staring into the magic mirror hoping to be spotted! I would even wave and jump up and down waiting to hear my name… and it just never came. This post is very relatable.. and smart to get yourself out there.. congrats on being freshly pressed.

  18. I’m afraid I have no idea about the magic mirror, I don’t think it was UK thing. I do know what you mean about the blogging circle though, I have only been gong 4 days and I am seeing this massive new world opening in front of me full of people who have known each other for a long time and I’m wondering if I should have bought the running shoes with the brand name instead of the generic black ones from Walmart that everyone is going to pick on ;)

  19. An interesting subject, well written… Congratulations and Thanks!
    I was 20 by the time I was exposed to TV… from a very young age I observed people behaviors with each other with much intrigue…
    With my kids when I tried to reason out while they watched such shows, where Miss Sallys’ called names out or showed drawings of other kids, to my surprise they each at six said “mom, it is only a TV show they don’t know everyone’s names” Phew! … Thanks again, love you! Jyo

  20. I’m pretty new here as well and feeling scared that NO ONE will read my posts. I’m not great at it, I know that, but it would be, oh so nice, to have a few people read and comment on my ramblings. That aside, I know exactly how you felt walking into that cafeteria. I have been there and done that. I’ve walked out of places with my heart in my throat and tears rolling down my face. I know it all too well.

  21. We had Miss Kathy in NZ when I was ….. let’s not go there. I was terrified that she would notice me. That she would call me and it would be like Big Brother. I had that whole Foucaultian panopticon surveillance complex thing happening. Spent all of high school trying to be invisible and maintain anonymity. Got pretty good at it too, I don’t think there is any proof that I was ever there. If there was I would deny it. But Starbucks I could cope with. Can I come join in? I only want the coffee. You don’t have to talk to me… unless you want to…

  22. When the Miss Sally’s accept you, and I’m sure they already have, don’t forget about the people at the first table. They accepted you first

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