I’ve spent the last few days devouring “You Have No Idea,” a book Vanessa Williams cowrote with her mother, Helen. Not only was it a trip down memory lane of the 1980s (Eddie Murphy, Prince and Robert Deniro all tried to score dates with V; V was almost cast in Spike Lee’s ‘School Daze’ but was pregnant; and Pebbles’ hit ‘Girlfriend’ almost went to V), but it also shows that a mother and daughter can become close after the dreaded teen years, when the daughter is a daddy’s girl and even when she marries/dates men that were NOT to Mom’s approval. (And oh yeah, there was an abortion, nude pictures, marijuana and the time Helen walked in on the young beauty queen having sex with her boyfriend)
Before I read this book, I was already a Vanessa Williams fan. But I left this book falling in love with her mother. To say Helen was No Nonsense would be an understatement. When “Ness” would lash out as a teenager, Helen would just go into her daughter’s room, toss everything on the floor and then tell her to clean it up. Just minutes before Vanessa’s first marriage to Ramon, Helen sat in the limo outside the church and told her daughter that she still had time to get out of the marriage. And years later, when learning about Vanessa’s upcoming divorce from Rick Fox, Helen went over and smacked him upside the head. That last part is my favorite. (“I was so furious. My body felt like it was just shaking with rage. I walked up to Rick and gave him a good whack on the back of his head. Of course I didn’t hurt him. But I couldn’t express my disappointment in words and there was his head – just available – waiting for me to whack it. I’ve never had the urge to whack someone’s head like that before. I whacked it. I didn’t say anything. I walked away. It felt good. I think I got my point across.” P. 235-236)
The book reminded me that before a girl meets her BFF, she meets her Mama, who, early on, may not earn that title. There are not enough blogs or hours in the day for me to write about how much I love my Mama, and how close we are. I wasn’t the rebellious, weed-smoking kid that Vanessa Williams was, but there was a time when I thought Mom was public enemy number 1. I’m so glad I got past that. I’m glad Vanessa did too.