I won two Emmy Awards recently.
You may not have seen me, but I was there. No, I was not wearing the gold dress, or the red one.
I was wearing the white V-neck T-shirt with only a couple of coffee stains? Right, that was me.
The one in the center aisle? No, that wasn’t me. I was the one under the covers finishing the last pages of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. The part where the mom says how great it is that kids these days don’t have to stay unhappily married. That was me!
So I won, and it was great. That was me, the little adopted Asian girl, Lily, the one who never says anything but just watches and thinks.
That was me, Betty Draper, with the crazy husband.
I am also Joan Holloway, winning for my ability to keep it together and move through the office “like some great ship,” as Roger Sterling says.
I am also Roger and Don.
How can I be all these people? Easy. Here’s the thing: I have not watched television in years. But, I watch Mad Men and Modern Family because they are about me, and during Emmy week, the week I had to tell everyone that my husband moved to an apartment in Maplewood and we are fine, totally fine, they were about me in particular.
Because where’s the line between self and other, really. Where’s the line between fiction and reality, really. These shows would not exist if they were not about me, which means that they are about me, which means that I won.
If Don Draper can act like he deserves his Clio award when really Glo-Coat was Peggy’s campaign, then this is certainly my Emmy.
Let’s break it down by show, shall we?
I’m sitting here in my yellow Colonial, just like Betty.
My husband is out, just like Betty’s.
I have children, just like Betty.
I have really great ideas that come to me really fast, just like Don.
I never get taken seriously, just like Peggy.
People see me as something different than I am, just like they see Peggy.
I like to interrupt public speakers, just like Duck!
I can plan an event, just like Joan.
My son likes to make seltzer for people, just like Manny likes to make novelty coffee beverages.
There are stairs in my house. When my oldest daughter goes up the stairs she is gone, just like Claire’s oldest daughter.
I am Phil, because I want teenage boys to think I’m a teenage boy.
While I’m not a gay man, I might as well be.
While no one can see it, I look exactly like Gloria in a wrap dress, and I definitely yell at games the way she does even though I am supposed to be quiet.
To repeat, the fact that I yell at games does not mean I am not also as silent as Lily, the adopted Asian girl.
For my entire life I have been a writer who does not write, a writer who looks angrily at other writers, even writers the editor of this column knows well, and said, “That’s Me! That’s Me except that I’m better! That’s me writing that book and receiving that award!”
Since I have been winning awards all my life, it’s really no stretch for me to be winning two Emmy awards recently for my work in television.
Robert Frost and I have won so many Pulitzer Prizes it’s not funny.
I won that Genius Grant with Edwidge Danticat, the one where the phone rings and the voice says, “Are you sitting down?” and Edwidge and I say, “Yes, I’m sitting here with my baby” and the voice says, “Put the baby down.” I won that.
I won the same award a few years before that with George Saunders. We wrote “Puppy,” which was also a story about me. I played the boy tied with a leash in the yard, Bo. I wore a choke chain.
So why haven’t you heard of me?
The thing is, I just engaged in a lot of self-sabotaging behavior, so you have not heard of me.
When I wrote a short essay for the New Yorker and the editor said it was too long, I did not cut it and re-submit it, I went away.
When I was writing my dissertation on Frank O’Hara and his sister said why don’t you come over and go through Frank’s things, I said thanks but no thanks, I’m pregnant and tired.
When I was going around a track a few weeks ago in the middle of the night for a relay and this writer said this other writer said my blog could be a book and then I talked about movies with the writer’s husband, an editor, and then they emailed me to ask me about ideas, I made sure I did not respond to the email.
But most importantly, since the age of fourteen I have been in a romantic relationship, to make absolutely sure that I did not write anything of substance.
Being in a romantic relationship confirms that I will never have to produce anything, because I am in a romantic relationship first. Always. Since fourteen.
When my husband moved to Maplewood and we told our three children this week, it looked like I might write something, and I wanted to make sure that did not happen, so I quickly thought,
Just because you are breathing,
Just because you have dirt under your fingernails because you planted flowers,
Just because you did the summer reading,
Just because you got the male gypsy moth population out of the kitchen,
Does not mean that you should be single.
Quick, invite him back to live here.
Otherwise, you might write something.
And we can’t have that.
It’s much too busy a week for us
We have the Emmy Awards this week and we are nominated for both Modern Family and Mad Men.
We’d better stay married.
We have been working hard since we were fourteen to make sure we did not write anything.
We have stayed romantically involved since we were fourteen to make sure we did not write anything.
Just because we won Emmy Awards for two shows this week does not mean we have to write anything.
We must stay married.