You know the rant I gave a couple months ago about the horrible things romantic comedies do to single girls? I still stand by everything I said, but I need to make a small amendment. I learned a valuable pearl of wisdom from a romantic comedy a few years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since.

It’s from “The Holiday” and if you’re judging me right now, take a step back and assess your own DVD collection. If there’s one single Nicolas Cage movie on that shelf…well, you know what they say about stones and glass houses.

The character of Iris is having dinner with her newfound Old Hollywood friend Arthur and he’s telling her how in life there are leading ladies and there are best friends and what he doesn’t understand is why she’s acting like the best friend when she’s supposed to be the leading lady. And Iris ponders it (yes, ponders – she’s British) for a minute before coming to a hefty realization that not even her therapist could pull out of her: You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life.

Easy enough, right?

So why do I feel like the best friend most of the time?

* * *

I haven’t really stopped moving since I turned eleven. Puberty coincided with harder classes at school and the combination created a work-a-holic monster of epic proportions. I was the embodiment of Hermione Granger – bushy hair, hand constantly waving in the air, and a general sense of precociousness that keep most of my classmates at bay and most of my teachers in fear of what I’d say next. If I’d had magic powers, I would have been incredibly dangerous.

I worked even harder through high school and had even fewer friends because I was different and busy and uninterested. Part of me, though, thinks that if I was to return to Groveton and spend any amount of time around the people I graduated with, I’d find out that I was actually a bully and a terrible sarcastic bitch (ala Liz Lemon on 30 Rock).

Then on to college, where I had to keep above a 3.2 to maintain a couple scholarships and drinking was outlawed (yes, outlawed – as in dry campus, as in “We the management of Norwich University would prefer you drank in secret so we can claim nothing is amiss“) and there wasn’t enough time in the day to have friends and boyfriends, so I studied and had friends and had some fun but mostly kept my nose buried in textbooks and spent a lot of time in the library.

(In my defense, the library is gorgeous. And full of books. Obviously.)

Graduate school was a little of the same, but a little more partying because I was a) legal and b) not living on a dry campus. However, I’d gone from a 17:1 male to female ration in undergrad to a complete desolate landscape of manliness in grad school – which really sucked because I was actually in the mood to date, finally.

But there were issues: I was fat. And thought myself homely. And I insisted on cutting my hair shorter and shorter as the stress piled up.

So at the age of 22, when I auditioned for the leading role in my own life, I instead ended up cast as the “chubby best friend”.


* * *

Okay, fast forward four years from the first day of grad school. I was almost 26, I’d just left my job in DC (which was the equivalent of working for a hydra – only I would have preferred the hydra) and had started working at the Sheriff’s Office. I was no longer eating takeout food on a daily basis and because I was getting home before midnight I was going to the gym. I’d lost 35 pounds in four months and I felt fantastic.

Leading lady, here I come!

Then came the heartbreak…and the drinking…and the two month long crying jag and I was back to a supporting role. It was a Lindsay Lohan fall from grace, only without the rehab and horrible collagen job. I gained back some of the weight and once again started hating the reflection in the mirror. I did not, however, cut my hair. Well, not all of it. I did attempt bangs.

Horrible, terrible bangs.

* * *

I just turned 29 a few weeks ago. I’d been dreading my birthday like the citizens of Tokyo dread the arrival of Godzilla – I imagined my birthday cake would grow to the size of a giant lizard and just start stomping on me while I screamed in dubbed terror.

This did not happen.

Instead, my birthday came and went with friends, beer, cake, and the knowledge that while I may be another year old I am not, by any means, dead and disliked so I should therefore suck it up and have a good time. Jilly and Jessica both put this into much more eloquent words, but I’ve broken down the meaning into layman terms – it doesn’t negate the sentiment any, though.

I made myself a small, quiet promise on the morning of my birthday as I stood in front of the mirror attempting to get my hair to stop acting like a poor imitation of Medusa’s vipers. I promised myself that I would not spend anymore time in the chubby best friend role, that I would step up and audition for (and subsequently get without sleeping with the casting director) the leading lady role in my own life.

I did all of this in my underwear, with a comb stuck in my tangled messy hair and my hands on my hips in a Wonder Woman pose that would have made Linda Carter proud to know me. I also promised myself that no matter what happens come November, I’d stop blending in with the wallpaper.

(Stop thinking about me in my underwear.)

* * *

November is two months away and I’m beginning to take stock of the many things I’ve learned over these last four months. I’ll share everything when the end of my six month hiatus comes to a close, but I will tell you this: it is important, in your life, to be the person you must be – not the person your family and friends feel you must be. If you believe that it’s your destiny to start a cult devoted to the worship of a goat named Fred, then by all means go for it (so long as you don’t eventually sacrifice Fred, because then there’s something a little off).

My parents will love me no less if I never marry.

My brother will love me no less if I never settle down.

My friends will love me no less, even if I decided to live alone well into my old age.

And I can always (always) change my mind – even when I’m 99.9% positive it’s set in stone.

(Profound, I know. Now seriously, stop thinking about me in my underwear.)

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Putting aside her commitment to the National Ninja Association, this young, bright and talented author has finally come out of hiding. She currently exhausts her brain capacity working for government, but spends many afternoons dreaming up new ideas for her incredibly blasphemous novel, The Absolutely, Positively, True Adventures of a Religious Prophet, while keeping her typing fingers limber. She can be reached here on the comment board or over at her blog, The Unbelievable Adventures of Claire Elizabeth Rogers.

23 responses to “I Swear I Didn’t Audition for the Supporting Role…In My Own 
Friggin’ Life”

  1. mom says:

    One of the best ones to date! I don’t know where your talent comes from (certainly not me), but I am so proud of who you are, and who you will become as you age (like a fine wine, not vinegar)…

    Love, mom

  2. Mo says:

    You go, Wonder Woman. 🙂 What a great job of putting such a profound internal experience into words. Thank you.

  3. Doug Bruns says:

    Very nice piece.
    Ah, to be 29 and so frustrated–compared to being 54 and so frustrated.

  4. Jilly says:

    “(Stop thinking about me in my underwear.)” LOVED IT!

    There were other statements I wanted to comment on – because of their brilliance, of course – but then you wrote the above statement and I forgot all of them because I almost peed my pants laughing. This is probably because until that point I hadn’t realized I was still thinking about you in your underwear. Is that weird? That’s probably weird. I didn’t mean to! You painted a picture easy to “see” and I didn’t realize you were still doing the Wonder Woman pose in my head. Funny.

    Any-hoo, great post Meg-Han. Let me know when you need a wing woman/best friend because I am already there.

    • Meg says:

      I actually read this last night (and couldn’t comment on the iPod) and laughed so hard I woke Duke up! Top comment, definitely.

      And only mildly weird that you were thinking about me in my underwear – I *had* painted a pretty good picture of the situation. 🙂 I’ll bet Val did the same thing.

      You’re always my wing woman and best friend – no casting calls available for that spot!


  5. James D. Irwin says:

    I think about the idea of being the main character in the film that is my quite a lot.

    I ponder actually, because I’m British.

    I don’t think I have lead character status. I’m too short and unattractive for that, or at least I’m a pretty lame lead character.

    But reading this I started thinking ‘is a supporting role so bad?’ I mean in every single film, at least every comedy film, the supporting character is usually the scene-stealing funny best friend.

    They have all the best lines, and occasionally they get their own romantic subplots.

    All I want in life is to make people laugh and retain the faint hope that I may one day have a girlfriend.

    Support characters have all the fun.

    • Meg says:

      I want the same things James, except substitute “boyfriend” for “girlfriend” and tack on “a really excellent slice of pie ala mode”.

      Support characters don’t have all the fun – in Star Trek, if they were wearing red shirts, they were killed by aliens or eaten by carnivorous plants. I suspect those support characters didn’t have any fun at all. To totally geek out on this metaphor (and thereby reduce my dating pool even further), it’s time to pull on a gold shirt and go Kirk on the world’s ass, James.

      I know you can do it. 🙂

      • James D. Irwin says:

        You can never underestimate the power of a really good pie. I really want a pie now…

        I was referring largely to comedy films, or films with at least a comedy support character. But I’m okay with the Star Trek anaology— I don’t own any red shirts.

        Which I now find really weird. Why don’t I have a red shirt? It’s a primary colour! My football team plays in red! I should have a red shirt.

        I guess it’s just fate. Fate doesn’t want me to be eaten by a carnivorous plant.

        I don’t want a gold t-shirt, but I do want a t-shirt with ‘It’s time to pull on a gold shirt and go Kirk on the world’s ass.’

        • Meg says:

          We could make a mint on t-shirts that say that. And it would be hilarious if they were screen printed on red shirts. Oh, the irony.

          I have very few, if any red shirts. More blue…I do, however, have a pair of gold pants. Well, goldenrod…but still. Gold pants. Kirk only wishes he had a pair of gold pants.

          There’s blackberry peach pie in my fridge. I’ll have a piece of it for you and save you the calories. 🙂

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Ironic red shirts with a reference to Star Trek… does it get any cooler than that?

          It took me a while to remember that pants has a different meaning in the US, but I’m still giggling like a small child…

          That’s very kind of you— really, I couldn’t eat a mouthful of pie right now. Just had the biggest meal…

  6. Simon Smithson says:

    I can’t believe I’m not the leading lady in my own life!

    So true!

    Well, you just sally up your gussets, world! Because I’m coming to punch you square in th-

    Wait, what?

    I mean, leading man. Which suddenly makes it not OK to go punching any kind of female world anywhere. However, I can roundhouse a masculine world’s face.

    Right off.

    • Meg says:

      Stop punching Mother Nature in the judy.

      I’d like to see you rounhouse a masculine world’s face right off – and that isn’t sarcasm. That’s seriousness. (I now have “This is a Man’s World” by James Brown circling my brain.)

      Thanks for reading! 😀

  7. Judy Prince says:

    I love that you did all of this in your underwear and your comb stuck in your tangled messy hair and your hands on your hips, Meghan. Underwear, comb, hair, hips—-the real Meghan.

    Irwin will rock in a red shirt!

    Simon will rock as the leading lady in his (but not Irwin’s) life.

    Carol in Iowa will wear an earbud.

    All’s right with the world.

    • Meg says:

      The real Meghan definitely spends a fair amount of time standing in front of the bathroom mirror in her underwear…usually with the dog silently laughing at her in the background.

      There’s still some work to be done, but leading lady status is around the bend. I can see it’s lavish costume poking out from behind the wall. 🙂

      • Judy Prince says:

        Ah, Meghan, how good that you often stand in front of the mirror in your underwear, dog laughing behind you, because,,,,,no, leading lady status is not just around the bend for you—-you ARE a leading lady!!!!

        Fake leading ladies will stand in front of the mirror in what they call “panties” and they do not have laughing dogs but crafty cats who laugh only to themselves, saying to themselves: “You fake leading lady, you have a skinny arse and you’re wearing stoopid ‘panties’; hence, you will never be a real leading lady.”

        I suggest you store your underwear in the fridge, Meghan, for at least some of the time, bcuz you are HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        SIZZLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MEGHAN, LEADING LADY IN HER LIFE AND IN OTHERS’ LIVES!!!!

  8. Marni Grossman says:

    I feel you, Meghan. I’ve often suspected that I’m a tertiary character in my own life. But you. You are clearly leading lady material.

  9. Jess says:

    I always knew that Leading Lady was there! Albeit, I never pictured her standing in her underwear in a Wonder Woman pose. Oh amd thanks for calling me out on continuing to picture you standing there like that! Like Jilly, I hadn’t realized I was still doing it :o)

    You’re a beautiful woman, Meg–inside and out.

  10. jmblaine says:

    But aren’t you
    the casting director
    of your own life
    Cher says
    we all sleep

    but most of
    our alones
    are large

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