when i was 16 years old i had a geometry teacher named mr. guiliani. i hated geometry and i think mr. guiliani hated me. actually, i think he hated all his students. he was a gruff, middle- aged man of the old school and i am sure he couldn't understand why we, his students, could learn the words to every one of elvis's insipid lyrics and not remember one word of one theorem.
one day, as i was leaving class, he called me to stay behind. i was terrified. i knew i was pretty close to failing and the thought of summer school loomed darkly over my head. i walked up to his desk and he said "i like your new haircut (a buster brown look with bangs). you look just like kaye ballard".
i was stunned. first of all, the fact that a teacher noticed things like haircuts was too much to believe. the fact that mr. guiliani noticed was beyond comprehension. i smiled and walked out of the room and then when the shock wore off, reality set in. i looked like kaye ballard? how could he say that? i was sixteen, kaye ballard, at that time was probably thirty-five which to a sixteen year old might just as well have been ninety. she was short, dumpy and had an enormous mouth. i am sure, in retrospect, that mr. guiliani meant his remark as a compliment. here he was an old italian teacher and here was kaye, a young (in his eyes) italian girl who had made good.
i was devastated and for the next forty-six years i would walk out of the room whenever ms. ballard would appear on television, fearful that, seeing us both together, people would immediately notice the resemblance. i don't think it would be an exaggeration to say, that i hated, through no fault of her own, kaye ballard. i know i am no longer a teenager but i still hate her. and up until yesterday i felt guilty about it.
yesterday i read that the actress alice ghostley had died. for those of you who may not remember, alice was a character actress who actually looked a lot like paul lynde. she worked in theater, winning a tony award for best supporting actress, and on t.v. in the first paragraph of the new york times obituary, her age was given as 81. in the second paragraph, who should pop up by my old nemesis, kaye ballard. apparently kaye and alice were old buddies and kaye could not let alice rest in peace with the whole world thinking she was 81. nooooo...kaye had to tell us all, that in fact, alice was 83.
i felt badly for alice. to be outed, by an old friend, after death is criminal. but i was delighted for me. suddenly, i no longer had to feel guilty about hating kaye ballard. i was right all along. even as a young girl i must have known - deep down - that kaye ballard is a bitch.