Funny Girl, Grown-Up Woman - Lisa Gioia-Acres
Recently I started my Sunday afternoon by watching movies I waitlisted for just this kind of alone time. A favorite from long ago is one I haven’t seen in over 40 years. What struck me about revisiting this film after all this time is the emotion that welled in me about who I was then and the person I have become, and the realization that this movie had an influence on me that I never realized until this moment.
Funny Girl starring a young Barbara Streisand came out in 1968. The film must have played in movie theaters back then, which I never went to as a child so my first viewing of it was on local television. Remember, you young people, this was the era before DVD’s and streaming online. My memory makes me think I awaited the annual showing of Funny Girl just as much as I did The Wizard of Oz. As I watched today I knew the words to every song and could anticipate the wisecracks made by the character of Fanny Brice. I remember even mimicking her at times. I realize how I identified with the character; a self-depreciating girl without confidence in her looks or worth, whose nose was almost as obvious as Barbara/Fanny. In Junior High my best friend and classmate even called me “Streisand Nose.” I related to Fanny’s dismay that anyone, especially someone as handsome and worldly as Nick Arnstein (played by Omar Sharif) would look at her twice and I, too, would use comedy to deflect feelings of insecurity.
As a teen I watched Funny Girl before I had any experience with love, loss, and success. Watching it now after I have experienced all of that really struck a chord in me. I have been very lucky in love and success, and any loss I have experienced has strengthened me.
Watching Fanny destroy that beautiful love relationship is heart-wrenching. Knowing I did not end up like her, sad, alone, and longing for the love of her life was life-affirming. I also never needed to replace my feelings of inadequacy with material things; I grew to love and cherish my unique look and quirky personality. In retrospect I did, however, retain the wit and dry humor that I picked up from watching that movie, and the use of it has served me well.
Nostalgia reminds me of a better time and place, one without the burdens and regrets we bring to our later years. In this case, however, nostalgia is a mirror I was able to examine and see not who I dreamed of being, but of who I have become. I admit it looks pretty good from this side of the glass.
Lisa Gioia-Acres has been writing since a teen. She has honed her craft and is working on a memoir of how she survived the loss of parents at the age of one. She previously published a blog, This Gioia's Chronicles and has a book through Arcadia Press's Images in America titled Showgirls of Las Vegas.