I was answering some questions for an interview with a new Pacific women’s magazine that’s coming out soon and got stuck on one of them.
“How does it feel to be successful?”
Umm…I don’t know. Because I’m not successful yet. Especially not as an author. I’m very successful at making cookies. And teaching lessons. And bribing my children to listen to me. But when it comes to being an author, no. Not successful yet. Take the following as evidence…
Some of you may know that I’m related to a very famous person – and NO Pele/Peta/Josh I’m not talking about either of you. ( Even tho you are each very wonderful siblings and have wonderfulness and university degrees coming out of your ears, you are most certainly not famous.) I’m referring here to my Dad’s younger brother, Prof. Albert Wendt – award-winning novelist, poet, artist, academic. His books have been read all over the world, made into movies and are studied by anyone and everyone even vaguely interested in Pacific literature. Now, I don’t often mention that I’m related to a famous person. Because I don’t want to be jumping on that ‘famous relative train’…you know that one where every Samoan tells you that the Rock is their cousin? And their sister is Troy Polamalu’s hairdresser? And David Tua is from their village? And that piece of Sonny Bill Williams that’s Samoan (most probably his left ab) – is related to their uncle…Yeah, that train…I’m not riding on it. Truly. Because I promise you that I am not related in any way to Troy, David or Sonny. (Especially not Sonny. Alice Burgess knows why.) No, I’m just related to Uncle Albert, a man who looks a lot like my Dad…and has family toonai with our fifty cousins every once in a while…and is super cool enough to wear really funky kicks (purple running shoes) when he goes to literary events and can surprise a Twilight addict (me) because he’s actually read the Twilight books…
Anyway, last night I went to an awesome event organized by the Auck women of PACIFICA. It was a ‘Women of Influence’ evening with the theme, Dare to Dream. I was excited about listening to powerhouse Pacific women share their success stories. But I also wanted to be comfortable while I was listening to them. So I put on my old denim jeans, a gangster black jacket that the Hot Man got from the nightclub he used to work security for, and my new black Nike shoes. (Which are like…the coolest shoes I’ve owned since my little sister gave me her old leather boots and I would wear them and pretend I was the chick in Matrix.)
But Big Son said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Don’t you want people to take you seriously? You have to dress up, you’re trying to be an author. And you’ve got a new book coming out next week.” Methinks that Big Son was channeling my mother…
I whined, “But Uncle Albert wears really cool purple kicks when he goes places.” And I thought about Seal’s gorgeous red suede shoes that he wears on that Aussie show, ‘The Voice.’ With black jeans and yellow fingernail polish…
And Big Son replied, “Yes, but you’re not Uncle Albert. He’s famous and you’re not. He’s cool and you’re not.” Seal is famous and cool too. And I’m not.
Ouch. Must teenagers always be so direct? And brutal? Have they no compassion? Apparently not.
I got changed. I put on sensible clothes that I wear to church. I didn’t wear the new Nikes. I went to the event with my beautiful cousin Fiona Wendt. It was a fabulous evening, co-ordinated by another beautiful cousin of mine, Sina Wendt Moore. I had a great time. I met my Twitter friend Moana Leilua and was very jealous of her shoes – zebra print Docs. And at all times, my quiet, restrained, boring shoes reminded me that…’You are not famous. You are not cool.’
What do we learn from this? (because we always have to put this moralizing bit in to justify writing and then reading an inane, fluff-filled piece of babbling)
1. Lani Wendt Young is related to a very famous person. And has some very beautiful and talented cousins too.
2. According to Big Son, Lani Wendt Young is not famous. Or cool.
3. If Lani Wendt Young EVER becomes famous and cool? She will not share her famousness with Big Son. She will most definitely not buy him any super cool shoes with her rich famousness either.
4. I think I now know the answer to that interview question. I may be wrong, but I think that success feels like red suede shoes. Purple kicks. Zebra print Docs. Black Nikes and second hand gangster jackets. So if you ever see me wearing any? With faded jeans and a gangster jacket? Then you will know that I’ve done it. I would have achieved the pinnacle of success. That epic moment in history when my children give me permission to dress like that in public. Because they think I’m famous and cool.
I shall live in hope for that cataclysmic day.