Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/08/26

My Name is Dolly Levi….

hello dollyYears ago, you may recall, there was a game show popular on television called “To Tell The Truth.”  On this show, three people announced to four celebrities, “My name is _________.”  During the time on the show, the celebrities would ask each of the three some questions, attempting to discern which was the REAL ____________.  The two “fakes” were allowed to answer questions by lying, but the real ___________ could only answer truthfully.  Finally, the announcer would say, “Would the REAL ____________ please stand up?”  And the truth teller would be revealed.  It was great fun for everyone, and the audience and people watching at home would be introduced to folks who had some amazing and odd occupations or talents, like people who could spin plates while riding a unicycle to the tune of God Bless America, or someone whose job it was to carry kidneys for transplants in coolers, or stuff like that.

I think about that show from time to time, usually when I think about how much I always wanted to be Auntie Mame.  If you’re not familiar, Auntie Mame, was brought to fictional life by Patrick Dennis (really Edward Everett Tanner III) when he wrote the best selling novel, Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade in the 1950’s. (That novel was followed by Around the World With Auntie Mame, but I doubt it garnered the same celebrity as the first.  I have them both, and the second one kind of falls a little flat if you ask me.)  The story of an orphaned boy, also named Patrick Dennis, who goes to live with his wild Auntie Mame just before the Great Depression, was so well-received and popular, it became a hit movie starring Rosalind Russell, and later became a Broadway musical, which became a movie with Lucille Ball in the title role.  Auntie Mame was waaaaaay cool, y’all.  She wanted everyone around her to have adventures, to experience everything possible, to go everywhere, to enjoy time and space together!  Her motto was “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!  You need to LIVE, LIVE, LIVE!”  And she took young Patrick and raised him in the most hair-brained fashion, which had its ups and downs (and those of you who know the movie are laughing right now!).  OH, how I wanted to be Auntie Mame, helping everyone around me to  LIVE, LIVE, LIVE, and get the most out of life, especially my children.

But what I have discovered over the years is that, were I on the To Tell The Truth show, and the announcer asked for the REAL Auntie Mame to stand up, alas, I would not be able to do so.  Because my truth is that I’m nowhere close to Auntie Mame.  Actually, my friends, I’m more like Dolly Levi.

You recall Dolly Levi, right?  The title character in the musical Hello, Dolly!  Based on the play, The Matchmaker, by Thornton Wilder, the story is told of Dolly Levi, a widow with desires to get married again to the town’s “half a millionaire.”  To make ends meet, Dolly, well, she “arranges” things.  She puts people together, businesses together, ideas together.  Actually, y’all, what she does is she meddles in other people’s lives.  It’s true.  She just jumps right on in and you can’t tell if she’s busy helping herself or actually trying to help other people (although she’s a kind heart, so yes, she seems to want to help others), and pushes her way into situations and it’s funny and frustrating and ultimately it all works out for everyone’s benefit.

It’s been a bit of work for me to admit it, but I kind of do that.  I really do.  I meddle.  I get involved.  I jump right in.  And bear in mind it is NEVER for a “what’s in it for me” kind of motive, ever!  I really do have Auntie Mame’s heart!  I want people to be happy and have their needs met.  I do all I can to research and come up with good solutions to problems and do something helpful if I can.  I just sometimes kind of do it whether I’m invited in or not.  And that’s a Dolly thing, not an Auntie Mame thing.

I love that my essence is to be a helper in the world.  LOVE it, I tell you!  To the point where, several blogs ago, I told you about the Grand Canyon leap I had made from being a “giver only” to being a grateful, and so much better at it “receiver of help.”  Still, my inclination is to get involved whenever I can (like recently jumping on into a blog discussion with the spouses of newly diagnosed lung cancer patients, when as it turned out, there were better qualified–by virtue of actually have the exact same kind of lung cancer and living in the general vicinity of the first blogger–people to respond), and sometimes that can be, well, obnoxious, bossy, intrusive, and ultimately not helpful.  Not how I want to come across at all!

What to do?  There’s no way I’m gonna squelch my natural helper essence here.  It makes me feel good, feel authentic, keeps me in the game to keep reaching out and being a helper in the world.  I guess I just need to keep working on finding that balance so that I don’t get over-eager and turn what could be helpful into something not.  Because we ALL know what it’s like to get that kind of help that isn’t helpful, the kind that makes the giver feel better, but the recipient not so much, and I really don’t want to do that.

So no, I’m not the REAL Dolly Levi, but sometimes I come mighty close.  Just know that my heart is right and my intentions are real, and I really am here for you if you need me.  Any time.  I’m pretty good at being a helper, too!  🙂

I wish you a week of being your authentic self, the REAL _______________!

With love,

Teri (who still wishes she was Auntie Mame), the REAL Flying Elephant



  1. Thanks, Bob- I kinda like that!

  2. But you’re simply “Auntie Teri”? That’s good for me.

  3. Balance: isn’t it one of those truly fine attributes? and, as usual with that category, hard to achieve. The fun is in trying!

  4. takes one to know one! 🙂

  5. Hmmmm, you sound like a social worker to me!


%d bloggers like this: