"Get out of the front yard! The neighbors can see you!" my mom would scream at me as I ran through the sprinklers, topless and barefoot, during the summer months of my youth. I was always doing something to embarrass the family in front of the neighbors. From running around with Fruit Roll-Up red all over my face to wearing a lacy white tube top (for a good cause: I was trying to look like Madonna), I was born to be a humiliation. So, it was no surprise when, 25 years later, my entire family unfollowed me on Twitter.
I was never a "regular" kid. I was definitely never a "good" kid. Nobody could show off ANYTHING about me. I wasn't really good at school, stood FAR FAR OUT in a position that there's no name for in softball, didn't make the cheerleading squad, sang loud but not quite on tune, wasn't quite cute, looking much like a green bean with an afro. I was exceptionally skinny, but with a pot belly I loved to show off in belly shirts. I had glow-in-the-dark neon green bangle bracelets up and down both of my arms with fake tattoos that were half bleached away from the sun. I carried around a dead worm in a jar. No parents show off about their odd, potbellied, tattooed, frizzy-haired 7-year-old carrying around a worm in a jar. (Especially if it's dead.)
I wanted attention from everyone and I couldn't get it. I sang because I got some compliments from it. Very lightweight compliments — I certainly was never exceptional. People would say, "Oh...wow...you sing very...enthusiastically" or "You have great...volume...to your voice." Complimenting my singing volume was NOT what I was looking for. I didn't even really enjoy singing that much. I just wanted to be unique, different, and extraordinary. I thought if I was a famous singer I would get that space filled in my soul that desperately needed love. I tried for more than 10 years, not giving up even when I heard "Absolutely not" and "You're embarrassing the family" and the most mean "Why don't you work in a store?"
Finally, I got a break. I joined a band that was signed to a record deal, and we toured the country. My parents could finally show off about something. They could come to a concert and watch me sign autographs and drive off in a tour bus. I had nightmares every night that it would end for me. I predicted being fired from the band, and I was right. Again I was a loser to my family, except worse than before. It's as though I had carried my dead worm around, publicly, but this time with articles written about it and message boards devoted to it.
Years later I became a regular on The Howard Stern Show. They could hear me on the radio and watch me on TV. While my brother and sister were excelling in an office making money and meeting their future spouses, I was on the radio talking about how my boyfriend wanted a threesome and orgies. My mom ended up canceling her Howard TV subscription. When I received the prestigious honor of Miss Howard TV, it was just too much for her. I knew part of the whole deal was I had to wear a bikini. I told producers, "I'm not sure I even look that great in a bikini right now. How about a one piece? A cover-up? A poncho?" All of my poncho requests were denied, and the parade of further embarrassing my family continued.
A few years later, after my stint with The Howard Stern Show ended, I started a web show called Kermit And Friends. It was basically a reality show with me and a bunch of strangers I met on the internet. At first my family watched every day and even seemed to like it. They would reference the show, laugh about the characters, and even repeat entertaining parts they heard on it. This was great for me. I had so much fun talking to them about something I was passionate about. But once again, I lost them due to me being a little "too" open about things. Sometimes I forgot they were watching and I even spoke about them! (I remember my mom's words vividly: "Leave me OUT of it.") I'm first to admit that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Even with my shaky past, I was happy and surprised when a few family members decided to follow me on Twitter. I welcomed them on the platform and sent them articles I thought they might enjoy. It was fun getting @ replies from them. I felt that they could get a front-row seat of what was going on with me. I'm not a huge phone person, or even a huge texter, but what I am good at is a "Hey @Mom, what's up?" This lighthearted fun did not last long. Unfortunately a few of my "fans" decided to send old nude modeling photos of me that had been taken 12 YEARS AGO to my family. I can pretty much guarantee I will be alone on the web for now on.
Now that I'm not in a famous band, not on a humongous radio show, not on TV anymore, and am just writing articles from home, maybe it's possible there's nothing left to be embarrassed of. They can't see me, they can't hear me... They can only "read" me. What could possibly upset them now? Or maybe my essay writing is just the world's worst portable front yard sprinkler. Except this sprinkler stretches across the internet but ends up landing in my parents' neighbor's backyard in Edison, New Jersey.