My 8-year-old daughter is taking part in a tiny little production of “Pinkalicious: The Musical.” In addition to weekly rehearsals, she practices in the car everyday, reading lines and singing the songs. In the finale, Pinkalicious’ mom, Mrs. Pinkerton, is celebrating the beauty of the color pink when Pinkalicious chimes in, “I thought you didn’t like pink.” Mrs. Pinkerton responds, “Long story.”
Now I’m curious. How is liking or not liking a color a long story? What’s the story here? And then it happens. I begin to imagine Mrs. Pinkerton’s (I don’t know her first name or her maiden name) childhood. What could have happened all those years ago? I see her crying at her father’s funeral when she is six, standing by the grave. Then she’s seven and arguing with her mother who has had to go back to work. They’re arguing because she wants her mother to stay at home, but that’s just not an option anymore. Flash forward two more years and her mother has remarried, an ex-carnival worker who ran the cotton candy machine, a machine he stole when he quit. A machine that now sits in the basement of the house they all share. Mrs. Pinkerton’s mother has moved up the ladder at work and she has to leave town every month for days at a time. When she leaves, the step-father locks Mrs. Pinkerton in the basement, only letting her out right before her mother returns, threatening her should she decide to tell her mother. Trapped in the basement and starving, Mrs. Pinkerton finds the cotton candy machine in the corner. Box upon box of pink sugar crystals are stacked beside it. On the verge of starvation, she figures out how to work the machine and survives by eating greats swabs of pink cotton candy off her hands, swirling them around the tub and sobbing as the strands gather on her fingers. She lives like this years, until finally her mother returns home early.
And now that I can’t help but look at the play in this light, “Pinkalicious” is less about a little girl eating to many pink cupcakes, and more about a resilient mother’s ability to overcome a childhood trauma in order to accept her daughter for who she is.
Then I wonder, what the hell is wrong with me? I’m at a play rehearsal and all of a sudden, all I can think about is one of the characters being tortured by a deranged carnie. And then it hits me. I know what’s wrong with me. I’m a writer. Because normal people just sit there and enjoy their daughter’s play. Suckers.