Monday, September 10, 2012

How I'm Like: DJ Tanner

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I chose Donna Jo Margaret Tanner as my comparison today because I was recently reminded of an essay I wrote in the second grade. The assignment was to write about your idol, and while everyone around me chose a parent or sibling or some such, I thought about various television characters before settling on DJ. I don't remember if my teacher thought it was an odd choice, but I didn't find anything peculiar about it at the time! The year was 1990, Full House was in its fourth (of eight) season, and I wanted to be a "cool kid" by the time I was thirteen. DJ had great clothes, nice hair, was the editor of her school paper, and played the lead in Romeo and Juliet! What about her wasn't admirable to a seven-year-old??
I actually have talked about loving DJ before... I selected her wardrobe as a closet I'd raid, placed her relationship with Kimmy Gibbler at #3 on my list of Best Friendships, and, of the eight episodes I listed as some of the best in the series, she's a major character in five of them. Now, her character wasn't perfect... in fact, it managed to stop growing toward the end of the series (in my opinion), but we still have a lot in common. On the surface, it might not seem so (my hair is not blond, I don't have two younger sisters, my mother wasn't killed by a drunk driver, and I didn't have three men raise me), but the similarities are there.

For starters, I was stuck sharing a room with my sibling(s) and longed for privacy (though DJ succeeded and I didn't). I didn't get my own phone line, but I was able to convince my mom to get call waiting after years (literally) of begging, even offering to pay for it (much like how DJ convinced Danny to get her a personal line). I got roped into babysitting all the time. I found it unfair that my sister was allowed to copy everything I did and was permitted to do many things (like pierce her ears) at a younger age than I was (almost the same situation as DJ & Stephanie). I even idolized a cousin, much like DJ did with Steve. I even thought that turning 13 would be a life-changing day like DJ did. I also thought that having a Pontiac Firebird would be the coolest car in the world, but Joey delivered on that while my father did not.

When I was younger, I dreamed of stardom, and after DJ auditioned for a television commercial, I begged my parents to take me "to be discovered" as well. Of course, I didn't understand that San Francisco was a lot different from Long Valley, NJ, but had I actually been talented, NYC was only 50 miles away! Also, when we were younger, my brother and I often got into hair-brained schemes (though none as great as the time DJ and Stephanie put a hole in Danny's wall and had to repair it!) where we'd eventually have to come clean because of the damage we'd done. My first day of high school was kinda similar to DJ's first day of junior high. I wasn't thrilled that my best friend and I only had one class together, but we were determined to have lunch together. Fashion was everything then, and although I wasn't wearing the same outfit as a teacher, I didn't make the wisest first-day choice, either (I wore black corduroy overalls, guys). BUT, we both made speeches at graduations!

DJ did have a bit of a rebellious side, though she skipped school as early as age 11 to get an autograph and the only time I ever skipped school was the last day of my junior year to go to the beach! And, on the flip side, she was the one that her friends turned to when they needed help, and Danny even calls her from jail once. Well, I've been in those shoes, too! DJ encountered underage drinking in her senior year, and although I wasn't around any until the night before graduation, I guess I did, too. And, I was every bit as shocked as she was that it was going on!

I think that the biggest commonality between DJ and myself, however, is that we both struggle with wanting to be things we aren't. DJ wanted to be treated as a boy when it came time to play sports and stuff, then wanted to be a waif at a pool party, and struggled throughout her high school career to figure out what she wanted in a boyfriend and where she should go to college. My college choices weren't all that difficult to figure out, but I went through the rest of that stuff, particularly with the yearning to be accepted even if it meant changing yourself a little bit here and there.
It's difficult to draw more comparisons between she and I, as we never knew DJ post-high-school, and I've had ten extra years of life experience at this point. Still, I'd say we had a lot in common up to that point... what do you think?
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