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Excerpt From Chapter 1

 

Raising children in Las Vegas presented a unique set of parenting challenges, not the least of which was the ever-present, over-sexualized, female exploitation sub-culture that loomed over your children.  Nowadays the entire country is over-sexualized as young girls willingly exploit themselves for their fifteen minutes of fame.  But, when I was growing up, Las Vegas was ahead of its time in this department.

I remember riding in the car on the way to second grade at St. Viator, staring at the racy advertisements that were plastered on the taxis that passed us by.  I was particularly obsessed with the one for a show called, Crazy Girls!  I thought to myself, “They must be crazy, they’re not wearing any pants!” as the tanned asses of eight showgirls stared back at me.

While all of these influences didn’t appear to affect my good-girl, follow the rules, obsessive-compulsive self, secretly it was on my mind.  I would never dream of actually becoming like these women myself, but what was the harm in pretending that my Barbies were Crazy Girls! ? Pretty soon all of my Barbies were jumping into their hot pink jeep and heading out for a wild night at the strip club.

By the time I was in the seventh grade, my Barbie dream house had transformed into a virtual Mustang Ranch.  Malibu Barbie pranced around wearing not much more than her painted on tan lines.  The previously harmless Ken was suddenly donning Barbie’s fur coat and bossing everybody around, saying things like, “Bitch better have my money!”  Teenaged Skipper cried all the time and smoked a lot of dope to numb the pain of lost innocence and the rough life of the sex trade.  I was really into my dark Barbie world and my heart broke for these girls as though they had made these choices themselves and I had nothing to do with it.   Meanwhile, I went on with my self-righteous little life, saying my prayers and studying for my exams.

There is certain innocence in still having affection for Barbie when you’re already twelve years old, even if your Barbies are drug-addicted hookers and Ken is a pimp with a God complex.  At least I wasn’t doing any of those terrible things and I had no plans to ever do drugs or have pre-marital sex.  And as far as I knew, no one in my class had those plans either. 

Then I got to high school….

**

Excerpt From Chapter 3 – How to Scare the Crap out of Your Child (in a Positive Way)

 


INT.  FAMILY KITCHEN – EVENING

A FATHER sits at the table reading the newspaper while eating cookies.
His DAUGHTER, a cute college girl, walks in.

				DAUGHTER
			Hi Daddy.

				FATHER
			Hi sweetheart.  Did you have some cookies?

				DAUGHTER
			Nah.  I’m on a diet.

				FATHER
			You’re too damn thin as it is.  You’re gonna waste
			away.

Father spills crumbs down his shirt as he takes a bite of another cookie.

				FATHER
			Oh well, more for me.

				DAUGHTER
			So, my friends and I are thinking of going to T.J.
			for the weekend.

				FATHER
			T.J.?

				DAUGHTER
			Tiajuana.

				FATHER
			Tiajuana?!  What the hell would you want to go
			there for?

				DAUGHTER
				(guilty)
			I don’t know.  It’s supposed to be fun.

				FATHER
			You’d just better be careful.

				DAUGHTER
			We will.  Of course, we will.

				FATHER
                        You have no rights when you’re over there.
			No rights.  Let me tell you, those Federales will
			rob you, rape you, and leave you to rot in a
			Mexican jail, all because you didn’t have the forty
			bucks to pay them off.

				DAUGHTER
			Well –

				FATHER
			You’d better bring an extra forty bucks with you
                        and set it aside as bribe money.

		                DAUGHTER
                        Okay.

                                FATHER
                        Better yet, two sets of forty bucks.  In case you get
                        stopped twice.

		                DAUGHTER
                        So, eighty-bucks?

		               FATHER
                        Yeah, but in two separate parts of your wallet.
                        They have to think that forty is all you’ve got.  You
                        understand?

		               DAUGHTER
                        I…think so.  Anyway, I’ll bring the phone number
                        for the American Embassy, in case I’m mis-treated.

		               FATHER
	                  (laughing)
                        You think you get a phone call?  This isn’t the United
                        States we’re talking about.  

                              DAUGHTER
                        Oh.

		               FATHER
                        And don’t make eye-contact with anybody down
                        there.  You make eye contact, you might as well
                        have a big target on your back.

		               DAUGHTER
                        Well, I mean…we’re probably not even going.  We
                        were just, you know, talking about maybe going.

		               FATHER
                        Oh, I thought you had already decided.

		               DAUGHTER
                        Nah.  I mean, with those Federales and everything…
                        you’d have to be nuts to go.  

		               FATHER
                        Smart girl.

 
 

The preceding scene was an example of how simple it can be to frighten your child out of doing something without having to “lay down the law.” The father in this scenario never once tells his daughter she can’t go, he merely “mentions” the terrible things that could happen to her in a foreign land.  
 

Notice how he opens with the comment, “What the hell would you want to go there for?” This is a very effective manipulation tool. The girl instantly feels ashamed as the image of her drunk, under-aged self, making out with a hot stranger flashes through her mind. Terrified that the same image may be flashing through her father’s mind, the kid wants to crawl under a rock and die. Mission accomplished….

 
 

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A successful stand-up and actress, ELIZABETH BECKWITH added “author” to her list of credits with the October 6 release of her first book, Raising The Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation. Published by Harper Collins, the book is a twisted take on the traditional, all-too-earnest parenting guides that have sucked the fun out of parenting for generations.

Raised in Las Vegas, Elizabeth first stepped on to the stand-up stage at the age of sixteen. By seventeen, the demanding world of a high school comic began to take its toll and Beckwith took a break from stand-up until her junior year of college at Loyola Marymount University. Straight out of college, Beckwith got her first big break when she was chosen as one of the “new faces” for the 1998 Just For Laughs International Comedy Festival. In August of that year she was one of seven comics featured in a Time Magazine article entitled, “Funny: The Next Generation.” Soon after she was cast in a television pilot for ABC and was offered an overall talent deal with the network the following fall. By the summer of 2000, Elizabeth made her first of three appearances on CBS’s “The Late, Late Show.” Various acting jobs followed and in 2001 Elizabeth was chosen as one of Variety’s “Ten Comics to Watch.”

In addition to stand-up comedy, and acting in series’ such as CBS’s “Ladies Man” and HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Beckwith has inked several television writing deals with studios such as Twentieth Century Fox, and has, as of late, turned the focus of her comedic talents onto writing.

Elizabeth lives in Los Angeles and is currently developing several television and film projects. She performs regularly at a variety of venues throughout Los Angeles.

14 responses to “Raising The Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation: An Excerpt”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    Oh Barbie!
    How I loved my Barbies. Mine weren’t quite strippers or drug addicts but they certainly got up to mischief.
    Looking forward to reading more, Elizabeth!

    • Elizabeth Beckwith says:

      Thanks so much, I appreciate it! If we ever meet in person we might have to break out the Barbies for a play-date!

  2. Well if this post is any indication, your book must be fabulous!
    I love your father’s advice to bring forty, no, eighty bucks in order to bribe yourself out of prison, rape or whatnot!

  3. “They must be crazy, they’re not wearing any pants!”

    Ha!

    Did you ever make it to Tijuana in later years?

    • Elizabeth Beckwith says:

      No, Simon, I am afraid my only trips to Tiajuana involved purchasing tiles and stained glass lamps with my parents!

  4. On the eve of my teens I stored away Malibu Barbie and the Dream House… I just couldn’t bear to give away childhood yet, so I locked it away. Unfortunately, my younger brother got into the trunk and cut off their synthetic locks and bandaged their arms and legs with red marker tinted toilet paper and used them as wounded soldiers for his macho G.I. Joe dolls to save…. he turned the neon colored dream house into their barracks. If only G.I. Joe could have done to Vegas…. who knows what would have happened?

  5. Erika Rae says:

    I freakin’ love pimp Ken. And the fact that you never lectured your Barbies for their bad decisions. It was their choice, anyway, as you pointed out. This was awesome.

  6. Greg Boose says:

    Love the scare tactic. I have a six-month-old daughter and I’m already trying to figure out how to keep her out of Mexico. And Las Vegas.

    Funny stuff, Elizabeth.

  7. I hope I’m sterile… I don’t think I’m up to the challenges of raising children anywhere!

  8. Marni Grossman says:

    Will have to buy a copy for my sister. She’s thinking about having a baby. This’ll show her.

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