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Craig Ferguson Saved Us

February 25, 2015

Craig Ferguson has no idea his silliness saved me and my kids from complete insanity. After my 2010 divorce, my two kids, my two hygienically challenged dogs and I, moved in with my elderly dad in western Pennsylvania for a few months until we could buy a house.

Dad and Milena

My dad and my daughter.

We all appreciated my dad letting us move in, but it was a hard time for us. The cute Tudor home we worked so hard on was sold, our family was fractured, our lives changed, and our dogs were on a pooping and peeing binge in the basement.

Our stay was supposed to be temporary, but, a tight mortgage market and a credit rating damaged by “he who shall remain nameless,”  left us few choices. Even with a huge down payment, I couldn’t get a loan.

Then my dad got sick and I wanted to help him since he basically let us and our stinking dogs move in and rearrange his entire household without a complaint. So we stayed, I helped, and tried to figure out how to patch my life and career back together.

Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson

After I put my dad in his bed at night, my son, my daughter and I laid side-by-side on the creaky double bed in my daughter’s room, with the glow of the computer screen lighting up our faces. We watched as Craig Ferguson made us laugh until we cried with his white rabbit puppet, wise-cracking, gay robot, Secretariat man-horse galloping across the stage, bleeped profanities and other silliness. He was a little bit of the L.A. we missed terribly. We dreamed of sitting in Lesbian Row and letting him mock us.

Sometimes we’d stay up until 12:30 and watch his show on TV, but usually we watched it on the computer, huddled together on the bed. Craig’s silliness made the room we watched in — the same room I had as a teenager — with fake wood paneling and an overhead light with a square glass cover, seem warm and almost attractive.

After two years with dad, we moved back to L.A. in 2012. I was working, volunteering for the PTA, and figuring out how to make a living. Then last December, Craig stopped doing his show. I really regretted it never taking the time to see it.

Plus, I think Craig and I are going through similar phases in our lives. I’m a little sick of Hollywood right now.  Maybe he is too.  I think he’s worked hard at his craft and I wonder why they didn’t tap him to host the Oscars? They’re probably terrified the night would devolve into way too much fun. When I saw the video of him doing the song, “Keep Banging On,” on his last show, I know it had a message for both of us.

He’s not giving up. The words to the song are:  “Keep banging on — banging on your drum – Keep banging on — and your day will come.” Those are not the words of a pansy quitter.

This is a man who left his home in Scotland, became a U.S. citizen, kicked alcoholism and drugs, nearly committed suicide, made it in Hollywood, wrote books, directed, acted, and created a hilarious late night show that was, hands down, funnier than anything on TV.

If someone as big as friggin’ Craig Ferguson had the guts to walk away from a network show after ten years, then surely I can muster the gumption to steer my own course.

A Fran and Penny selfie.

A Fran and Penny selfie.

So I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to see him at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula. I told myself I shouldn’t be spending the money and that it’s a long drive, but I knew seeing him would inspire me and maybe help lift me out of this stupid funk. My son was supposed to go, but couldn’t, so I frantically called a few friends and luckily, Penny could go.

Penny was so excited, she even shaved her legs. We drove three hours to the resort in rush hour traffic, then made our way to the theater. We pulled on the doors and they were closed.  What the hell? we wondered. We asked someone in a uniform why the box office was closed.

She looked at our tickets and said, “Craig’s show was two nights ago. It was Sunday the 22nd.”

The depressing truth.  Craig's show WAS on the 22nd. DOH.

The depressing truth. Craig’s show WAS on the 22nd.

Oh God, I thought.

Who schedules a show on the night of the Academy Awards? This had to be a test. Satanic forces had to be at work. But I checked the tickets and it was true.

I didn’t know whether to cry, be sick, scream, or slap myself for being so stupid. I’d just lost 150 dollars I should have saved, wasted half a tank of gas and lost the last microscopic fiber of dignity I had. How could I have confused the dates? How could I have been such an idiot?

How do you not love a friend like Penny?

How do you not love a friend like Penny?

I almost cried, but Penny said she was happy just to get out of the house, sit in the car with smooth legs, and talk for the three hour drive down. Thank God. Anyone else would have strangled me lifeless with her purse strap.

If she was disappointed, she hid it and said,  “No, it’s really OK.  I’m just glad to see that someone else makes stupid mistakes too.” Then we just had to laugh.

I wasn’t leaving without dinner, so we had French Onion Soup with gobs of toasty, melted cheese on top and delicious beer battered fish sandwiches.  Even without Craig, life does start looking up after a decent meal.

Against my better judgment, I am shedding that last nano fiber of dignity and sharing this. Penny said I should.  If you’ve done an equally stupid thing, maybe this will make you feel better. Please write and tell me stupid or stupider things you’ve done, I am begging you! Do not leave me hanging people!

And Craig, I will see you one day. Keep banging on. 

(Here’s the link to “Keep Banging On” again, if you want to see it.)

(After writing this, Craig tweeted that he’s starring in a new sitcom, “The King of 7B!)

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I agree with Nicol: I would not be disappointed at all if I’d had the delightful opportunity to be in a car chatting with you for three hours. And you already are bangin’ on, girl!
    1) I once raced (I used to be able to do that) one and a half city blocks to catch a bus only to realize as I started to board that I had run to my stop. 2) When I was young and thin I worked at a supper club where we wore these “little” uniforms with fringe that just covered our “ass”ets and required dance trunks underneath. I had a dream/nightmare that I had gone to work and forgotten my dance trunks. A week later, as I was setting up the dining room, I thought I was experiencing a little more breeze than usual. I surreptitiously reached down — and YUP! — pantyhose, yes, dance trunks, no. I told the bartender I had to drive home and would be back in an hour. 3) And then there was the time I married this guy and… Feeling better? Human, at least? 🙂 xox

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      March 7, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Yes, Linda, I am feeling better. Thank you for that. And thank God we don’t have to work at supper clubs anymore!

  • Reply
    March 1, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Among the many silly things that I’ve done, there was the lovely spring day when I pulled into the church parking lot, happily humming a little tune on that balmy morning…. I hopped out of my little 4 x 4 pickup truck and as my happy little feet hit the ground I soon realized that my skirt had caught on the adjustment lever on the side of the seat. With my feet on the ground and my skirt firmly attached to the lever inside the truck, a good 12 inches above my hemline, my undies were on parade for all to see, which brought a whole new dimension to the balmy breezy sunny day.
    I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can either laugh or cry when life takes on a nightmarish hue. Many is the time that I’ve had a brief cry initially (but not in front of my undie-viewing public), but in the end if we can laugh, then we’ve won the battle and turned the poop into fertilizer.
    What a lovely friend you had with you, and while I mourn with you the loss of a potentially fantastic experience with Craig, I think you’ve won the battle on this one with this lovely post which resonates with all of us. You sound like the type of amazing person who knows how to take lemons and turn them into lemon meringue pie. 🙂

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      March 2, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Leslie, you just made my night. If you’re ever in my neighborhood I WILL bake you a lemon meringue pie! I love the visual, very funny. The words balmy and breezy will always remind me of undies on display! Too funny! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I once tried to give up coffee !!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 27, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Foolish, foolish Robbie. That’s a good one!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    EVERYONE makes dumb mistakes, Fran. Most people just don’t like to give people the satisfaction of knowing because of insecurities and or pride, etc. So many times, people are quick to point the finger at us and then finally it turns around to bite them in the heinie. I love it when what goes around, comes around, . . .LOL! Most people aren’t brave enough to broadcast it, like you. I really think you need to pass this on to Craig, or still pay him or Ellen DeGeneres a visit, “like I have been telling you!” Sometimes boo boos pay off girl! And if nothing else, gives you a break in your day, some fun, AND gives you another great post for your blog! I agree with “Blantonn,” So often, things happen for a reason, and aren’t coincidences at all.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 27, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      So everyone knows, I’ve already tweeted this to Craig and the two parts of his horse, Secretariat. He might be aware of it, but I don’t expect anything from him, he’s a busy guy. I am just glad he’s out there doing what he does and keeps going for a long time.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Curtis Swan
    February 25, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    So I jumped on an airplane to St. Paul, and didn’t realized until I tried to check into my hotel that I was a week early. Made the flight home interesting…..
    But that was pre-911.
    Sorry you missed out, Frannie!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 25, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Honestly, these confessions are really making me feel much better. Thanks Kimberly and everyone who’s written. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2015 at 11:45 am

    oh Fran – I’m soo sorry this happened!! how disappointed you must have felt. but I’m not so sure there isn’t one of us reading this who hasn’t done something like that before – i went to a friend’s wedding the day before – dragging the boyfriend along and all. bummer on the money but i too would have been happy to just go on a road trip with you. but what a time to want a stiff drink and couldn’t because of the drive home – i hope you had one when you got back! xox

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 25, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Oh Mandy, I’m so glad I didn’t drag you all the way to Pechanga! Thanks for the love and the funny story. I’ll bet you looked fabulous and the old boyfriend never forgot that. I’ll take a raincheck on the stiff drink!

  • Reply
    Donna Tunno
    February 25, 2015 at 11:15 am

    A little piece of my heart broke off when I finished reading the blog this morning. You are such a HUGE fan of Craig F … I thought this blog was heading towards a happy ending. But, no, it made you feel worse than ever. It’s not that you made a mistake on the date … we all do things like that … it’s that you needed a “fix” from this man’s humor that would inspire you to “hang on,” to “carry on,” to carry you through this “funk”. I think Craig would love to read how he made a difference in your life through tough times.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 25, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Donna,
      Thanks for the empathy. Yeah, it was a real bummer because I really needed a lift. But that which doesn’t kill you probably makes you go out and buy another set of tickets next time Craig comes around. I will definitely check the date on the next one.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2015 at 8:15 am

    A zillion stupid things I have done, but the first one that comes to mind is when I backed the “mini van” out of the garage with the back door partially up, damaged the van and the entire garage door. I’m sure we could come up with a great list of stupid things done in Clarion, PA between August 1973 and May 1977. How did we survive and write to tell about it?

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 25, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks Jane. I should get the co-worker’s number and commiserate. It’s nice hearing all these very human stories. I am starting to feel a tiny bit better!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 25, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Margaret, I love your story! I have a friend whose husband gave her grief for driving into the garage with the bike on the top rack. Then he did the same thing a week later. Karma is a bitch. Yeah, college, there were far more stupid decisions than rational ones, by far.

  • Reply
    Jane Jacobs
    February 25, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Fran, if I started listing all my silly brain cramps we’d be here all day. How about Paul’s co-worker who got all dressed to come to our wedding a week late, and only noticed it when he grabbed the invitation to confirm the address ….? We wondered why he didn’t show up that day!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2015 at 6:58 am

    I once stuck my head out the window to check the front tire as I parked and turned off the car and tried to close said window thinking I could save time doing it all at once… Yes. Really. I did that. And only you could get me to admit that in print. I agree with Penny. The gift is in the adventure and any one of us would have been lucky to spend a lengthy car ride with you talking and laughing and just being together. Your beautiful soul is soaring and maybe just being awake to it all is the gift. Love you, Fran

    And YES to what Donna said – send this post to Craig, I thought the same thing.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 25, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Oh Nicol, I could just see you doing that and love you for admitting it. You are wonderful and by the way, I did tweet this to Craig. But he’s on tour and very busy, so I don’t expect an answer. I just wanted him to know that even if the studios didn’t appreciate him, he made a huge difference in our lives!

  • Reply
    Donna Tunno
    February 25, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Send this blog to Craig Ferguson.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2015 at 3:51 am

    Fran, not once but twice I got the time wrong on airline tickets and missed my flight. Wanted to shoot my idiot self for sure so I know how it feels! But the first time I got to spend an extra day with my best friend, and the second time I was there for a young man in the airport who really needed somebody to talk to. So, everything has its purpose and you are not alone sister! 🙋

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 25, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      My Dear Nancy, thanks for sharing that! And it’s true, sometimes things work out for the best like they did in your case. I will float that thought out into the universe and maybe I’ll find 150 bucks on the street.

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