Love her or hate her, one thing is for certain: Suzanne Somers is a really good business woman. Miss Somers and her devoted husband Alan Hamel have been creating her brand for at least 40 years, during this time she has succeeded at a surprising number of things: self-help guru; recording artist (sort of); Las Vegas entertainer; memoirist; TV personality; infomercial queen; actress; health advocate; agitator of the medical establishment; and best friend to Barry Manilow. Though you might be familiar with some of the incarnations of this shapeshifting dynamo, what you may not know is that before there was the ThighMaster and She’s the Sheriff, even before she was famous, there was her poetry.
Miss Somers published a collection of poems called Touch Me in 1973, the same year she had a bit part billed as the “Blonde in T-Bird” in George Lucas’ American Graffiti. I treasure the whole book, but one of my absolute favorite poems is “Organic Girl,” which I regard as a seminal work in the then still-emerging micro genre of self-help poetry. In this respect Miss Somers may be regarded absolutely as a pioneer. In line after line, stanza after stanza, Suzanne’s words surprise and stimulate. The fact that she is able to present two sides of an issue—in this case the relative merits of organic food—despite whole passages that are, at least to me, utterly incoherent, is what lifts “Organic Girl” from the merely mundane to the truly delicious. Don’t take my word for it, taste it for yourself:
Organic girl dropped by last night
For nothing in particular
Except to tell me again how beautiful and serene she feels
On uncooked vegetables and wheat germ fortified by bean
Mixed with yeast and egg whites on really big days—
She not only mediates regularly, but looks at me
like I should
And lectures me about meat and ice cream
And other aggressive foods I shouldn’t eat.
And she well may be intuitive
Because several times I have thought about cramming her
Unadulterated peace beads down her throat.
It isn’t simply that she called my pot roast—
Simmering in gravy with
carrots and onions and potatoes—
An accumulation of obscene vibrations
Which could retard my sexuality
Nor did I really mind eating alone—and drinking—
While she munched on celery and crushed almonds—loudly
I might add—
And fed her puffy little kid mashed avocados and honey
Instead of something pornographic like milk,
Talking incessantly about the beauty of alpha waves,
The thrill of vitamin highs and spiritual excursions,
And the peace that finally hit her after all this searching.
While I was eating pot roast and drinking wine.
Whatever it was, when the aggressive fibers seemed
to take hold
It suddenly began to dawn on my clogged up cells:
That organic girl and her love-everybody philosophy
Is not nearly as gentle as she is insensitive
Not nearly as serene as she is bland and boring
Not really as liberated as she is rude and intolerant
And despite her eminent diet and intercourse
with pure alfalfa—
Which well may do it for her—
She’s damned unhealthy looking!
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