Deb Elise: A Case Study In Near-Disaster

Even as I write this, I’m sitting with my grandmother and sister, watching the Eagles defeat (so far, keep your fingers crossed) the Giants, at the tail end of a weekend filled with fun, food, and family.  Work is great — Elixir was a bestseller, and Hilary and I are working on the sequel; Populazzi ARCs have arrived at Harcourt; I’m working on some really fun TV and DVD projects (and did I mention the Philadelphia Eagles?  I’m ready to buy my dog a Michael Vick jersey)…

All in all, life is very good, and I’m very grateful.

Especially since I’ve nearly blown it all to hell about a zillion times.

I’ll stick with some highlights though.  Six of ’em.  I was going to do ten, but remember last week’s posts about procrastination?  Exactly.  So without further ado…

Six Royal Screwups That I’m Grateful Didn’t Ruin Everything
(Even Though They Probably Should Have)

ONE: I grew up in the 80’s, and thought this look was cool:

Elise Allen 80's
TWO: As a kid, I firmly believed in psychological torture… at least when it came to my little sister.  I loved pretending I had a juicy secret to tell her, and would start spilling… then walk away at the height of the story and shut myself in my room.  When she’d scream and bang on the door, I’d act completely innocent, like I’d never opened my mouth in the first place.

Oh — and when I was in senior biology, I’d hide fetal pig parts in her school mailbox.

We’re close now, but it’s staggering she didn’t shun me for life.

THREE: I used to fancy myself an actress.  I’ve already posted my star turn on California Dreams.   Lost forever is my audition piece for The Adventures of Captain Cook, a pilot for the Food Network, in which I all but make out with a raw chicken breast.

The show never got picked up.

FOUR: I have been known to fall to pieces in front of celebrities I loved as a child, and have officially made an ass out of myself in front of Carol Spinney (Big Bird), Madeline Kahn, Billy Joel, and Ricardo Montalban.

FIVE: After getting my first major break in sitcoms on the show Cosby, I nearly blew it all to pieces by accidentally hanging up on Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr.


SIX: I once went on a blind date, and had such a great time I invited him to my apartment afterward… an apartment that wasn’t just messy, it was a toxic waste dump.  After shuffling my underwear off the couch so he could sit, I asked if he’d mind if I slipped into something more comfortable.  He said he wouldn’t.

I returned five minutes later wearing ancient sweatpants and a dumpy, clown-striped fleecy shirt. And I’d replaced my contacts with thick bottle-glasses.

Amazingly the date went on from there, and it was great… until the phone rang.  It was my friend Jay, wishing me good luck on a work-trip to NYC I was taking the next day.  “Jay…” I said, “I have to call you back.  I think I just fell asleep on my blind date.”

Sure enough, I had answered the phone from my date’s lap, where I had passed out mid-conversation due to an intense lack of sleep combined with a strawberry margarita.

I’m pretty sure I was drooling.

It’s a constant source of shock and awe to me that the guy not only didn’t race out screaming, but that three years after that blind date we got married, and here we are twelve years later with an amazing 6-y-o daughter, and Riley the Wonder Dog.

I could go on, but I want to turn it over to you.  Are there times you look back on with gratitude, amazed that such seemingly monumental mistakes actually pushed you onto the perfect path?  Bring ’em on, and we’ll add them to the list!


~Deb Elise

17 Replies to “Deb Elise: A Case Study In Near-Disaster”

  1. No one hangs up on Fat Albert and lives to tell the tale! You’re magically blessed! I also tormented my younger sibling – remember the “Richie, would you like a glass of ginger ale (pickle juice) story in my book? I’ll put my 6th grade braces glasses yarn hair tie photo up against your 80s explosion any day of the week. And you know I burst into tears ten days ago when I met Bob McGrath from Sesame Street. I blubbered like a toddler.

    Congrats on the beautiful list of successes and hard work pays off moments. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I didn’t even get to the part where two weeks into our relationship I broke my leg in four places and ended up bedridden at his house in a full leg cast! Talk about spoiling the mystique…

  2. Tis made me laugh this morning, so thanks! And, I wanted to congratulate your Eagles on their win . . . and mention that one of their star receivers, Jeremy Maclin is not only from my town, but I was his ninth-grade English teacher. He was a real sweet kid.

    1. I LOVE Maclin!!! The whole team is (knock wood) amazing this year — it’s a huge thrill. I’m in fact wearing my Eagles sweatshirt right now, and might be at the point of the season where I need to wear at least one Eagles article of clothing every day. E-A-G-L-E-S-EAGLES!!!!

  3. I think I had that same sweater.

    I think my 20s in general were all about big mistakes – wrong partner, wrong job(s), wrong city, wrong life plan, WRONG – but I am grateful for every one of them, because I took all the lessons they taught me and am now in a great place with the right everything. I’m so grateful.

    Best blind date story evar.

    1. Other great part of the blind date story? We were fixed up by an ex of his… who did the fixup because she thought we were horribly wrong for one another and he’d bounce back to her.


      1. What I loved was the “just let me slip into something comfortable…” bit. I can SOOOOOO relate. Out come the contacts, on come the coke-bottle bottoms (literally, I have -6.5 plus astigmatism). The first romantic weekend with my now husband (we were commuting back and forth between cities) was marked by two high(low)lights:

        First, I brought my favorite ratty flannel nightgown along and said, this is ME. (Hey, we KNEW from the first evening together, this was IT.) He later bought me something he liked better (not sexier, he just doesn’t get Lanz of Salzburg…insert sob of grief here!)

        Second, we went for a lovely walk through the frozen winter woods, crunchy snow on the ground, beautiful views, clear air. Chestnuts roastin’ and all that. Decided to walk into the village for hot chocolate and a croissant. The village is built on a hillside, as we walk down the (paved!) street toward the cafe, I am ogling the lovely old fin de siecle homes there. He says something to me, turns around for an answer and I’ve disappeared.

        Well, not actually disappeared, I am LAYING IN THE DITCH in my (beautiful if not politically correct) mink coat. Gaack! I twisted my ankle in a pothole and went down like I’d been poleaxed. We limped to the cafe, then he walked home, got his car and came back to pick me up. Then he ran out for an ice pack. The rest of the weekend he cosseted and babyed me and took care of me until I had to get on the plane to go home.

        At least I knew he was a real keeper!


        PS: This year we are back in the States for Christmas, and I am hoping my mother is going to buy me a new Lanz of Salzburg flannel nightie. With lots of tucks and lace. The oversized t-shirt-type nightie my husband bought me way back when is dying and I want flannel again! (Listen up, Mom!! If you buy it for me, he won’t crab about my “grannie gown”…)

        1. I LOVE THIS STORY!!!!

          Yes, he proved right away he was a keeper. And that flannel nightie sounds ridiculously cozy. Might need to add one to my Hanukkah list…

  4. Elise, this post made me love you even more. (P.S. I have a younger sister and during childhood I a.) cut her hair, b.) her eyebrows, and c.) convinced her to give me all her quarters in exchange for my vast amount of pennies. And would you believe that we’re very close now, too? 🙂

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