The nuttiest thing I’ve ever done didn’t happen in my teens or under the influence of alcohol; it happened when I was at my wit’s end, trying to stay awake to feed my little one at 3:00 A.M. My children are several years removed from night feedings, and now they only wake to sleepwalk and pee in a closet or pour shampoo in the toilet. But, I remember very clearly all those nights I tried to remain alert enough to feed my kids without passing out and dropping them on the floor or rolling over and smashing them like pancakes.
TV was a helpful assistant, as long as I didn’t watch a cable baby channel. With our first child, I was all about this one station that literally was a carbon copy of the DirecTV floating logo screen: a black background with colored balls that bounced back and forth off the perimeter of the screen. I was in that first-time-parent phase, fearing age-inappropriate TV would leave my baby with a future of living in a box down by the river, and I martyred myself when I could’ve been enjoying middle-of-the-night viewings of Family Ties on TV Land. Of course my fears were totally asinine, and the only thing this channel succeeded in was hypnotizing me back to sleep. With our second child I grew smarter, gleefully enjoying 4:00 A.M. viewings of American Horror Story and The Facts of Life, but even Dylan McDermott’s fanny and the anticipation of Natalie breaking the fourth wall in every scene couldn’t prevent me from conking back out. I needed a new assistant.
Enter: The Interwebs, the technological elixir guaranteed to amp up brain activity 10,000 notches.
Once I moved from lounging in a dark, TV-lit room and decided to feed my child in front of a giant iMac screen, I had zero problems staying awake. In fact, I had more problems going down the rabbit hole of John Waters interviews, researching the puppetry of The Dark Crystal, and perusing celebrity gossip.
I may be an anomaly crashing out to TV because studies show light-emitting screens suppress melatonin levels and decrease the ability to fall asleep if you look at a phone, use a tablet, or watch the tube at night. Poor sleep habits are also linked to a variety of increased health risks. But what’s far more dangerous than boosting your chances of cardiovascular disease and diabetes? The chance of stumbling upon an online contest at 3:00 A.M. to win a makeover of your underwear drawer sponsored by a feminine hygiene company and thinking, This is a sound idea.
Annnnnd, that’s how I met comedian Kathy Griffin and George Kotsiopoulos of E!’s Fashion Police and discussed periods and panties, and miraculously, nobody spontaneously combusted out of shame.
I don’t ever know where to start when I tell people about this event because the whole thing was so random. I guess I can sum it all up with “night feeding” because that is where the crazy happens. I was exhausted yet wired while perusing a celebrity gossip site, and I saw a banner ad for this contest. Submitting an entry as to why my underwear drawer needed a boost to win cash, a trip to L.A., and a makeover with Kathy and George, simply just happened. I may as well have eaten 12 Doritos Locos from Taco Bell because the rationale was the same: it was 3:00 A.M., and I was out of my mind.
The initial contest entry only required that I submit a few sentences stating why I needed this makeover I don’t remember what I wrote, only that I mentioned a chupacabra, and I had the ability to check back to see if I had any votes. It was the vote-checking that kept me awake and entertained—you know, to count the number of Latin folklore fans across America. I went to bed afterward, thinking nothing of it, until a few days later I received an email informing me I was a semi-finalist in the contest. I needed to submit a short video, and three of us would be chosen as grand prize winners. At this point, I needed to tell my husband what I’d been up to. He wouldn’t have been surprised to find me researching the slow loris and seventeenth-century pirates at 3:00 A.M, but he did not expect this. (Nobody expects the Panty Drawer Inquisition, as it were.)
It turns out he also thought the whole thing was hilarious, and at this point, getting out of the house for a weekend of gloriously sleeping alone without interruption seemed like winning the Powerball, so we were like, “Eh, let’s see where this goes.” And it went straight to L.A., with me playing the role of the put-upon mom who needed to revamp her panty drawer. (Naturally, the other roles were cool-rocker-chick-gone-lazy and newlywed-who-threw-in-the-towel. The newlywed was some ace contest winner who had already scored a mattress and meet-and-greet with Paula Deen—if you consider that a win—while the rocker chick was the coolest woman I’ve ever met who obviously sleepwalked to her computer and accidentally entered the contest.)
My husband and I previously lived in California, so the trip was a nice way to get a free vacation and practice recounting this ridiculous story to friends about the dangers of night feeding and internet browsing. Suffice it to say I spent a quick weekend in a Hollywood studio talking about feminine hygiene, panties, and providing sound bites like, “I want to know that whatever I’m wearing, both outside and underneath, is making me feel good.” Yikes.
If anyone invents time travel, 13-year-old me is going straight to 2010 to murder 33-year-old me with the entrails of a slap bracelet.
I still got the perks of cash, free clothes, and Kathy Griffin joking about me pooping my pants, and at least I wasn’t the contestant who had to give the sound bite pretending she wore maxi pads with her thongs. Everyone involved with the project was super nice and gracious, and I can only imagine they were equally exhausted talking about sad panties and absorbent liners without wings. There’s a time limit for that type of discussion, and I believe it’s 10 minutes or less. We were at about six hours before we shut it down for the day.
Just so I don’t get tracked down and sued for defamation (OH, SWEET LORD, TO GET SUED BY A TAMPON MANUFACTURER FOR DEFAMATION—THAT WOULD BE MY ZENITH!), I do want to honestly add that the feminine hygiene and marketing companies that coordinated the contest did a stellar job hosting a fun weekend. They couldn’t control the authenticity of the entrants, thought I’m not certain there’s a lady out there who would’ve genuinely entered a contest touching on menstruation without a glint of mischief in her eye. I mean, they hired Kathy Griffin for gosh sake. Everybody knows when it comes to bleeding into your pants and talking about your period drawer (FYI to any men out there: this is where the nasty, old panties live), you can’t take yourself too seriously.
I returned home from the trip telling the story like a stand-up comedy routine. I was in total denial I had signed off on the rights for my image to be used in all advertising and promotions for this product and contest and that folks would soon see me spinning a tale of my terrible underwear next to boxes of maxi pads and tampons, imprinted online for posterity, without knowing the backstory. Worse than having the footage shown all at once, it was released as a slow leak on numerous websites as a several-part series of ads. Of course, the percentage of people wanting to watch menstruation-centric advertising in a banner ad is probably low, but I imagined all my ex-boyfriends and mortal enemies watching the videos. I wanted to scream at the world, “This was a joke! My panties have never been sad! I was delirious while my child was hoovering my boobs! I’ve always had very happy, sexy panties! This was a joke done in desperation, I tell you. A jooooooooke!“ (I also prepaid to have this printed on my tombstone.)
In the end, I shared it all over Facebook because everyone can use new fodder for inside jokes and, as a big part of my life is publicly chronicling my adolescence (including bleeding-into-my-pants stories) in online memoir form, I’m a person who can laugh at herself. Plus, wearing panties, having a period, and using feminine hygiene products are real parts of life, and we’re all adults here. If I can allow another human being to crank open my vagina for an examination and birth two children, I can certainly talk about menstruation. Anyway, it turns out it’s a great story that pairs nicely with illustrating the crazy desperation that happens when you have little babies, a low-functioning brain, and four cumulative hours of sleep each day. That said, if you dare try to Google this campaign and watch the video, I’ve heard you’ll get a phone call telling you you’ll die in exactly seven days, just like in that horror movie The Ring, so good luck with that…
PS. In case you’re dying to know…
This took place about five years ago, when My Life on the D-List was on Bravo and George had just started with Joan Rivers on Fashion Police.
Kathy was hilarious, sweet, personable, and a beautiful ginger without a lick of makeup.
George was also funny, genuine, and didn’t spill a drop of Rachel Zoe/Brad Goreski gossip during our styling sessions, no matter how hard we begged.
This was not my first time around people who are regularly on camera, but it did reconfirm for me that at 5′ 8″ I am approximately two feet taller than everyone in Hollywood.