Sunday, February 27, 2005


Being the celebrity that I am, it is only fitting that I hang out with fellow celebrities. One is my dear friend Ellen. Now, I'm not referring to Ellen DeGeneres - with whom I am practically sisters - but I'm speaking of my friend Ellen Hagan - with whom I can almost remember from the womb. It can get so confusing having two b.f.f.s named Ellen, so I will refer to them as Def Poet (Ellen Hagan) and Comedian (Ellen DeGeneres).

Now, as many of you know, after Comedian became famous, our friendship fell apart. We rarely spoke. The Christmas cards and family vacations dwindled off until they were only documented in scrapbooks. She let the fame and money zoom to her head and she flew off on her star without looking back. Oh, sure, she's embarrassed of the way she acted now and we've reconciled the hurt I felt when our blood-sisters friendship was dropped like a bag of potatoes; but she's recently made up for it all by pulling me up to sit on her star with her.

I guess everything works out for a reason, because while she was out playing clubs, making TV shows, doing voice-overs, and staring in a daytime talk show so good that JLo tapes it every day, I met my other half. Had I been out chasing that dream, I might have missed my soul mate. Of course Comedian and I laugh over it all now, (especially over the national television airwaves). I am amazed at my humility, because as much as I'm being photographed and signing autographs, I am still working at a restaurant to let my fans know that I am still one of them.

Def Poet is more like me. She teaches the children of New York City how to write, express themselves on the page, dream. And she leads a great example. Being a Def Poet, she has to set the bar high, which I will say that she has "def"initely done. For example, at the taping of HBO's Def Poetry Season 5 on Thursday evening, as we were hanging out with our friends Mos Def and Kanye West (poet and rapper - actor and producer - "Italian Job" and "Jesus Walks"), she kept it real by only giggling at their stupid pick-up lines rather than bat her eyelashes. I thought that this showed uncompromisable self-constraint and let them know that she was unfazed by their bling; for Kentucky vixens such as we possess hearts of gold that far surpass the glitter of their chain medallions.

Def Poet and I give back to the community. We don't let the recent stardom we've encountered alter our balanced and humble personalities. A good example of this is that we decided to blow off the Oscars this year. Yes, yes. I know what you're thinking: "How can Awhit and Def Poet not attend the O's?" Well, we gave up our seats to a couple from Texas that's been married 50 years and decided to watch from home. After all, if we aren't nominated (snubbed once again by peers too jealous to publicly admit our accomplishments) then we'd rather just pop some kernels and constantly text message Comedian (who will more than likely be in the front row like she was at the Grammy's) just to ask her if/who/how many people have asked about us.

As you can see, being a celebrity is tough. But listen, you learn important things about life:
1. Never go to awards where paparazzi will surely be if you have a large facial zit. (They won't airbrush that thing out.)
2. Never go to the bathroom expecting to be in and outta there. Women will have you sign their used toilet paper before they'll let you in a stall without an autograph.
3. Blogs are high maintenance to keep up once you've got a following, (especially when it's 2am, you've worked a 14 hour shift, and you're only writing because your fans are threatening to cancel their subscriptions); however, they are a great way to live in fantasy, while allowing the world wide web to reflect: "Maybe she should have just gone to bed."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Man Evolves

Jerrod Pace was not necessarily known for his sensitivity. He wouldn't learn a new employee's name until they'd worked at The Chop House for 3 months, referring to them as "New Fish" until they'd finished this initiation period. When a rough-housing former team leader hit him on the head with a check presenter, he picked it up and hit her back in her forehead a little harder. He would never cry at a movie. His friends referred to him as Grudgemaster, a name he happily embraced, as he would rather lose his left arm than forgive someone a trespass.

But something has changed. Somehow, like monkeys and cavemen before us, he has evolved.

I saw those tough blue eyes tear up on February 10, 2005 when a stage door on The Ellen Show slid open to reveal the woman to whom he was about to propose. Our tough guy mob boss wanna-be has enrolled in gymnastics for the past two semesters, turning cartwheels and forward rolls with the determination of an Olympic medalist. I've heard him consider baby girl names, (he's particularly fond of "Brooklyn"), although he'll have to wait a pretty long time before he actually gets to christen one. He recently told me that he wished I would move back home so that we could take ballroom dancing lessons together. And the "Grudgemaster", after a couple of years of physical therapy, has now successfully trained his mouth to form the words "I'm sorry" and has even forgiven a couple of transgressions against him.

I love him for his machismo. But I love him so much more for the sweet spirit that hides behind the muscle.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Wintry Wonder

I cup my long fingers around the bowl and sip cereal flavored milk. It is very late and my body is being pulled toward the bedroom, but my eyes are transfixed on the fantastic show outside of our dining room window.

As I slurp, my eyes dart over the bowl's lid and wonder at the three inches of snow sitting on a nearby electric wire. They follow the wire to poles and more wires; watch the snow fall down hard, each flake searching for a resting place - a home - a place to melt - a place to live and die. Some flakes sit atop each other on rooftops, window sills, cars and trucks, chain fences, swing sets; some dive for the streets and sidewalks and become footprints and tire marks almost instantly.

I am finished with my milk, yawning like a full kitten, but I can't stop staring out the window. The sky is lavender gray - the street light across from our building spotlighting the whole magical scene - providing light for me to write in a dark room - giving shimmer to our freshly blanketed neighborhood. Smoke puffs out of the chimney across from me and I wonder who chops their wood - where they get it.

The only things that would make this better - this sitting in a dark room, staring at a snowstorm, and wondering if anyone is staring back at me - would be a fireplace, an afghan, and my lover.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Star is Born

It's funny. I know that I am not a celebrity. I realize that not one person on this planet wants my autograph and that most people I meet in Times Square would prefer me to be behind the camera taking their picture than in front of it. All the same, I feel a little bit like a celebrity.

Now, unlike a certain fiancé of mine (I won't name names), I am not answering the telephone as if I am a business - an entity - my own corporation. One hypothetical example could be, "Hollywood Pace speaking". I haven't let The Ellen Show go to my head as this faceless man has; but I have had a small dose of fame - very small - one tiny drop - and I'm showering in it.

At my restaurant, people are calling me over to their tables to ask me all about the show:
"Did you know he was going to propose?"
"What was Ellen like? Did you get to talk to her?"
"Did you know your parents would be there?"
"Why in the world would he try to propose via satellite?"

They also ask questions, assuming that Ellen DeGeneres and I are now BFF:
"How is Ellen's back feeling?"
"Can Ellen dance? Does she practice backstage? Does she stretch?"
"Is Houston kin to Ellen? Oh, he's from Kentucky, too? Well, then are you kin to Houston?"

I found myself waiting on Kathie Lee Gifford as she and some friends had lunch Wednesday. Now this is a lady who is a real celebrity; but rather than talk to her or ask for her autograph, a couple and their daughter flagged me down and took my picture! I looked around and couldn't help but think to myself, "Kathie Lee who?"

I am desperately trying to be humble, but I am on cloud 9. I have a constant grin on my face. And when things get busy or tense at work, I just stare at my beautiful engagement ring. I'm so happy. happy. happy.

And I gotta say, Ellen Show or not, that Jerrod Pace sure is a great guy. I'm gonna hang on to him. After all, I'll soon be looking for that perfect accessory on my arm for the Oscars.

Only one more daydream away.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Mrs. Jerrod Lee Pace

I am not sure when this will happen. I am only sure that it will.

As of February 10, 2005, Alecia Kaye Whitaker (yours truly) has actually found her betrothed and she cannot believe it. Cannot believe that someone can love her so wholly:
- Can be dragged out on the dance floor to a cheesy slow song.
- Can hum along to any song that pops into her head and out of her mouth.
- Can sit through Gone With the Wind and pretend that he liked it.

I know that my blogging fans are expecting a long involved tale about how and where and all those little details, but I'd rather just point out the most important part...

that he loves me.

The glitter in my ring is so dark and mirky in comparison to the way his blue eyes shone when he got down on his knee. I've never seen him look more handsome. I've never felt more loved. Even in a red tuxedo jacket and bow tie, I've never felt more beautiful. At that moment, I only heard him ask me to be his wife...

and I couldn't wait to say 'yes'.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Pass the towel, please.

At the Whitaker household, we conserve. We are conscientious of turning lights out when we leave rooms. We don't leave water running. We recycle our cans, but before we recycle them, we crush them so that more will fit in the bin. When we built our house, we picked up rocks around the farm and used them to build our fireplace. We mini-vanned, bunk-bedded, and still use the sniff test on our shirts. And at the dinner table, there are never napkins to be found; rather, we use towels.

Now, I don't want to give you the impression that we each have our very own towel. No. That would go against every law of conservation. I also don't want to mislead you into thinking that we at least use a clean towel at every meal. No, no. If finger foods are not involved, then that towel has a lifespan of at least 3 uses, maybe more depending on the number of mouths and fingers present per meal. No. All of the Whitakers sit around the table and "pass" the same towel:

Sticky jelly fingers? "Pass the towel, please."
Honey coated biscuit lips? "Pass the towel, please."
Laughing so hard that milk flies out of the nose? "Pass the towel, please!"
(Manners are very important.)

I did not realize that towel passing is abnormal until last year. I am a 25 year old woman who has been to dinner at many other homes, yet never realized that 5 humans sharing the same towel at a meal is odd. I just thought everybody broke out paper towels when they had guests. I mean, family is one thing, but who wants to wipe their mouth in the same exact spot as a stranger?

The Keeper of the Towel is always my mother. Somehow, at every meal, the towel ends up beside her. We have given her a hard time about this for most of my existence. It's gotten to the point that we see it down there beside her and, whether we need it or not, we'll say, "Who has the towel?" and look around as if it's a mystery. Then, the four of us laugh and laugh while Mom rolls her eyes, clearly annoyed.

If my mischievious dad spots the towel down there, he employs his stealth nod to get our attention until we're all thinking the same thing, my poor mother completely oblivious. On his cue, in a magnificent chorus, we'll say, "Pass the towel, please" in perfect unison. (I think I can justifiably compare her irritation with us to that of a small dog with 10,000 fleas.)

She usually ends up just launching it in Dad's direction, (which is such a double standard, if you ask me. We can't sing at or put our elbows on the table, but she can heave a bright pink beach towel at my father?!)

Having to dodge flying fabric at the dinner table usually leaves him wrecked. He starts laughing so hard that he has to push his chair away from the table. He usually has to take off his glasses with one hand while he's slapping his leg with the other - my mother's face set in stone. Watching my father riddled with the giggles could cripple even the toughest stone-face, and my brother, sister, and I are slapping the table and trying not to snort out our food. My mother will try to continue her meal, but eventually, she'll break down with a chuckle. She usually looks at each of us, shakes her head, and says, "Y'all are ignert."

I'm honestly not sure how the towel always makes it's way back to her. It's like a magnetic force - like a kinship - like she and the towel are one. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Sprint

It is your average autumn Kentucky day. A crisp October morning, but not too cold for the new mid-thigh plaid jumper my mom recently bought me at the mall. I have slept in pink sponge rollers and with rolled down white socks and my new brown penny loafers, I am truly a sixth grader on her way to the in-crowd. Due to the fact that I have purposefully "forgotten" my huge saxophone, which is at least half my weight, I am on the verge of appearing "cool".

What makes this day even more special is that I have "accidentally" missed the bus (again) without getting in trouble for it. It just so happens that my dad was heading into town any way, so I have manipulated the system without getting caught. Avoiding the bus ride to school (a ride wherein I and whoever chooses to sit with me have to bump along the country roads on top of my beat-up sax case) is a beautiful way to start my day. And today, as I spritz one last bang into place, I head to the garage expecting to finally look as cool as Katie Jacobs and Rob Ogden (whose parents are teachers and therefore never ride the bus).

The perfect day's first hiccough came when dad didn't join me in the garage. It suddenly became all too clear that, rather than ride to town in our light blue Previa mini-van or our deep green Corolla, Dad was motioning me toward the Sprint. In society's social standards, the "Chevrolet ultra-compact Sprint" is one step - and only one, very small step - above the bus. It's only advantage is that, being a car, the ride is only 20 minutes long vs. the hour long bus tour of the county's finest farms and trailers. The Sprint is gray (lacking all personality) and it's a two-door (a tight, tight squeeze). The steering wheel is covered in mesh, the interior plastic is dirty brown, and I am sitting on a tan beaded seat cushion. The seatbelt reaches across me, lax over my shoulder and too tight across my lap - a sticky torture strap. The Sprint is a stick-shift and, once again, my dad reminds me of its excellent gas mileage... like a sixth grader with boys and middle school popularity on her mind really cares about gas mileage.

Dad is in heaven. He drives super, super slow. He gives his usual friendly wave to passersby and I keep my head down, making eye contact with no one. I wanted desperately to look cool today. Today could be the day that Chris Cummins asks me to sit beside him at the church hayride and my father has no idea of the social damage he is causing.

Harrison County Middle School is set up like so: the sixth grade wing on the far right, the seventh graders in the middle, and the eighth graders on the far left.

As we approach the hilltop, I suggest that Dad drop me off at the local Dairy Queen. "I don't want you to get stuck in all that a.m. bus and commuter traffic."

Nothin' doin'.

"It's not every day I get to take my favorite daughter to school," I'm sure he said.

He hangs the left into the school driveway and the car audibly creaks. (I really feel that cars are not unlike bread or milk - one should really respect the shelf life and then toss them.) The busses are all edging for spaces in front of the school and I realize that if I can time it just right, I could run from the car once we're hidden amongst all the yellow. Dad begins to slow down while I'm gathering my bags and then tries to pull to the curb at the sixth grade wing. That's when I see Chris. He's helping Paul Roberts send the flag up about one bus length away. If I got out now, he'd see me for sure. So, a quick thinker, I blurt out, "Oh, uh, Dad! Uh, I forgot that I need to, um, be dropped off at the eighth grade side today. Um, you know. School stuff."

My dad grins, forces the stick shift into one of the slots, and putters away. I exhale. I can't believe he didn't give me any grief, but I thank my lucky stars and apply some kind of watermelon lip gloss. One last look into the mud covered side view mirror and I unbuckle, my nerves a wreck. The last part of Operation Get-In-That-School-Before-Somebody-Sees-You-In-This-Piece-Of-Aluminum was drawing near.

Dad is approaching the eighth grade wing when I throw him a curve. "Stop! Here's fine." He slams on the brakes and is squashed between two busses and an angry looking pick-up. I lean over for a quick peck on the cheek and slide outta that seat cushion before he could finish his "have a good day".

Five quick steps to the sidewalk and I'm a free woman! Hurrah! My hair is bouncing! My short skirt is swishing! My. . .

Dad????. . .

is HONKING?!?!!

I glance over my shoulder to see my dad - wearing a full beard, glasses, flannel, and the biggest smile you've ever seen - waving like a maniac and honking the Sprint's horn, which basically sounds like a cow giving birth.

Ironically, no girl has ever run so fast.