This isn’t a story about cherries or ice cream sundaes–or even about the yummy gluten-free, 9 x 12-inch decadent chocolate sheet cake I baked over the weekend. (Tom and I are in the process of devouring it.)
No, it’s a tale about an unexpected, sweet, extraordinary exchange (shared from afar through snail mail) between this independent writer and a legendary actor of stage and screen, who recently celebrated a milestone birthday.
On April 27, I wrote a letter to Carol Burnett. I mailed it in a padded pouch with my book I Think I’ll Prune the Lemon Tree. It is comprised of thirty-nine essays … a mix of true stories and desert fantasies … which I published in 2021.
One of them (A Custodian, A Scrub Woman, and Me) is about the special meaning The Carol Burnett Show held in our suburban St. Louis family in the 1970s.
In the story, I describe how Carol’s weekly hijinks, madcap comedic troop, and sense of humanity brought joy to my father (a depressed janitor) and me (an emerging adolescent).
On April 26, 2023–Carol’s ninetieth birthday–Tom and I watched her birthday celebration and tribute on NBC. The program resurfaced so many fabulous memories. It also prompted me to draft and send my letter (and enclose the book as a gift) to Carol through her agent.
I really didn’t expect to hear back. The act of sending the book to Carol was gratifying enough. To share my joy of watching her variety show every week decades ago.
But then, the mailed arrived today. Wedged between our SRP bill and instructions for me concerning an upcoming routine health procedure, was a handwritten letter addressed to me in beautiful penmanship.
On the upper left corner of the outside envelope just one cursive word appeared in dark blue ink: Burnett. The street address was printed on the back flap.
I carefully opened the card without ripping the corners. Inside was this personal message from that kooky comedienne with a toothy smile and infectious laugh. The same one who captured my twelve-year-old heart and creative imagination more than fifty years ago.
Best. Carol Burnett … Is there anything better than that?!
In this world of incessant breaking news, a personal note from a star (who took the time to tell me she was touched by what I wrote) is just the encouragement I needed to keep writing. To tell and follow the story. To send cards and letters when I feel compelled to do so.
Because one hot evening in May–when you least expect it–you just might receive the cherry on top you never imagined.