For the past 24 hours at least, I’ve been on a nonstop weeping jag. Like millions of people around the world, I’ve been playing over and over the stirring YouTube video of Susan Boyle, the homely Scottish spinster, singing her heart out on Britain’s Got Talent.
I’m sure you’ve seen Miss Boyle singing, “I Dreamed a Dream,” turning the reaction of the live studio audience from derision to delight. Even that nasty pom Simon was moved by the 47-year-old never-been-kissed homebody from Blackburn, Scotland, giving her the biggest “Yes” he’s ever given.
Miss Boyle has been popping up all over the place, finally appearing on Oprah, where the popular hostess with perennial weight issues welcomed her with tears spilling down her cushiony bosom. Once again, I began sobbing uncontrollably, which, I have to say, felt really good. I felt really good about myself and was filled with the delicious spirit of goodwill and fellow feeling toward all human creatures making their plucky way through this vale of tears.
But after a couple of days of continual sobbing, I found myself emotionally spent and physically dehydrated.
Even more problematic were the disturbing dreams troubling my sleep; without going into detail, they depicted various scenarios of me, Miss Boyle and Oprah in compromising and acrobatic positions, all accompanied by an endless loop of Miss Boyle singing “I Dreamed a Dream.”
That wasn’t so bad; what really got to me was the fact that Oprah was humming along the whole time. A good friend suggested I get some help and pressed into my hand the business card of Dr. Heather Wingot, the noted therapist and author of Get a Hold of Yourself: How to Get a Grip and Get Going.
Dr. Wingot is a trim, no-nonsense woman in her 60s who looks much younger. She welcomed me into her rather spartan office above a tanning salon in Sugar House. I sat down in an uncomfortable wicker chair and Dr. Wingot got right down to business.
Dr. Heather Wingot: Don’t tell me. You’re obsessed with that Boyle gal.
Deep End: How can you tell?
HW: I’ve never seen anything like it. I have people lined up around the block. At least they can get a tan downstairs while they wait.
DE: I can’t get Miss Boyle or that touching song out of my head. Please help me.
HW: I bet you have dreams, too.
DE: How do you know? It’s embarrassing.
HW: You’re not alone. Just yesterday I met with Matt Lauer, and he’s got it worse than you. And this morning, I got a call from Harry Smith from CBS, and he’s even got it worse.
DE: What did you tell them?
HW: I told them to get a grip. I told them they don’t care a rating’s point about the singing spinster. There’s something creepy and self-congratulatory about how they’re getting off on this gal.
DE: You’re being kinda cynical, don’t you think? What’s wrong with having a feel-good moment or two?
HW: It’s OK to feel good for a moment or two. But step back and see what’s really going on. Think about it: The reason everyone is in such a tizzy is that someone that homely—let’s call a spade a spade, someone that ugly—can be such a good singer. The unstated assumption is that looks and talent go together. And look at how condescending those TV people are—they talk to Miss Boyle as if she were a mentally challenged child.
DE: But Meredith on the Today show and that cute Hispanic gal on CBS, Maggie something-or-other, both of them were really nice to Miss Boyle, I thought.
HW: Gag me with a spoon. Maggie Rodriguez actually told Miss Boyle how lovely she looked. And Meredith Vieira asked Miss Boyle how many suitors have come knocking on her door. The good-looking Miss Rodriguez and the good-looking Miss Vierra were not just condescending, they were insulting. At least in my book.
DE: You mean, you don’t think they were sincere?
HW: Give me a break.
DE: So you don’t think Miss Boyle has talent?
HW: Oh, she’s got talent, all right. But let’s see if people recognize her talent without making her get a makeover. I hope Miss Boyle stays just the way she is.
DE: What should we all do in the meantime?
HW: Get a grip.