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Tag: Memoir

My Humiliating Moment with Rodney Dangerfield

In my 1.5 second scene with Rodney, I’m the blur on the right.

Excerpt from my book “Craving Normal,” in my story “Confessions of a Hollywood Extra”:

While working as an extra on the movie “Back to School,” with Rodney Dangerfield, I sat about ten feet from Rodney and Sally Kellerman as they prepared to do a scene. The quiet of the set prior to the cameras rolling allowed my voice to carry. My female newlywed friend, another extra, wondered if I wanted to get married. The last thing on my mind! So I said, “I’m not meeting guys nice enough to go out with in LA. Can’t imagine finding one to marry.” My voice carried through the silent crowd.

Rodney’s voice boomed toward me. “Hey, Honey! Come down here! I’ll marry ya! I’ll marry ya, right now!” My face turned hot, and I’m sure as red as a tomato, while Rodney, the crew, and the extras laughed. Well, that was one way to shut me up. And it did.

On bottom right, after hours in the blazing sun, using all my acting skills to become an enthralled, sports-loving, college student.

Bottom left, dancing to Oingo Boingo in the
Dead Man’s Party scene, in “Back to School.”

Jen (the blonde in the video thumbnail) is my newlywed friend I mention
in my Rodney Dangerfield moment of humiliation. I’m dancing in this Oingo Boingo
video, next to Jen. But you have to stop the video to find me. And, of course,
I DID just that. I’m at 2:08.



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Writing About Life – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The thing about life is, if everything went smoothly, just as we plan, all the time – no awkward experiences, no “get me outa here!” moments – it would be much harder to appreciate the pleasant moments. Life can be like people we may date: Awkward, odd, horrifying… but then, along comes a good one. After all the bad dates, you appreciate him/her all the more.

With dating in mind, I share some awkward dating moments in my up-coming book, “Craving Normal.” Here’s the beginning of one blind date I write about.

Right when we meet and get into his car, the guy starts making gaga eyes at me, trying to hold my hand, not taking the hint from my don’t-touch-me body language – arms folded over my chest, body pressed into the passenger door, and nervous laughter. At a stop light, he stares at me for an uncomfortably long time and says, “You remind me SO much of my dead sister.”


Oh, and it only got worse. The entire night he stared at me with a creepy reverence, as if I were an angel whom he’d never let go. Hence my physically wrestling him all night until I finally fled.

Still talking to myself on this blog, but if you happen to read this share one of your “date from hell” stories. I’m not the only one, right? We’ve all endured crappy dates. I know. Tell me about it.

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Wild Child

You can take the child out of the wild, but not the wild out of the child… apparently. This may explain many of my stories. When your brain is formed a certain way – on freedom, travel, adventure – makes it hard to be happy sitting in a cubicle, or locked up in school, following bells, rules and clocks. It’s a huge reason I’m self-employed. And why I’m still wild today.

Photo: Nude beach, Mykonos, Greece. I’m second from left; Little sister, far left, with beach friends.

I write about living in a rock hut on this nude beach in my book, “Craving Normal.” The story’s called, “That’s Not An Eel!”

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Who is Michele Miles Gardiner? And Why is She So Weird?

Hellooooo-looooooo-loooo-lo! (I can hear the echo bouncing off the walls of a massive empty room)

Anybody out there? If so, I’m writing this just for you. Oh there you are. Hello! I have to tell you, setting up this new site and blog feels a little like being the new kid in school again.

My first school, I walked into the school yard, parting a sea of cardigan sweater-wearing kids, dressed in my smelly sheep coat. They stared at me while holding their lunch boxes, most decorated with TV show characters, as I clung to my transparent produce bag filled with that day’s lunch. Dad packed it.

But the worst part of the day, watching kids in the cafeteria open their lunch boxes. Torture. They’d smile while chewing their American cheese on soft, snowy-white bread, as I’d choke down my grainy sandwich. I’d be pulling sprouts from between my teeth, as I’d hear the crinkle of plastic coming off some lucky kid’s Twinkie. If only I had a treat to trade, I’d think. But no kid wanted to swap one of those golden treasures for a natural yogurt. Every now and then my mom added treats. But I knew whole grain wheat fig-filled cookies from the health food co-op were lame imitations of soft and moist Fig Newtons, the same way carob’s a sad, waxy imposter of chocolate. They didn’t fool me. I used to eat the real stuff back in the suburbs, back when my parents were sane.

Now I’m here writing to myself in this virtual school cafeteria. And I still don’t have Twinkies (Have you read the ingredients? Turns out my mom knew what she was doing). To make myself feel like a weirdo all over again, I’ve been writing about myself in the third person on my bio and home page: “Michele Miles Gardiner has written essays and articles for newspapers and magazines, and performed her stories on stage. She’s currently working on her true tales, “Craving Normal,” a collection of stories about being born to suburbanites who veered way off and transformed into nude-beach-loving, world-traveling-hippies, and other adventures of growing up during the ‘Me Generation,’ and beyond.”

See, she’s a weirdo! But she wrote a book, so this is what she is supposed to do to promote her book.

Anyway, nice talking to YOU. You’re a very patient person and a great listener.

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Come to Our Commune

My first blog post!

Here I am in La Jolla, dancing and singing to The Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius,” just before these men (on the lawn) talked my dad into taking our family to stay at their religious commune in San Diego. Not that my dad was religious, just that he had a deep reverence for penny-pinching. Getting stuff free was the closest he got to a spiritual moment.

Wearing my super groovy vinyl dress, I danced and belted out, “This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius…” clueless about where we were headed.

More about this commune experience in my up-coming book, “Craving Normal,” in the story titled “Jesus Freak for Cheerios.” To keep posted on my new non fiction book, join my email list here:

 Observation: Looks like the woman in red scarf is scoffing at our hippiness, and/or at the dude on the left who may be toking a joint.


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