Carolyn Meyer
Photos: Russell Maynor
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The charm bracelet sparking a thousand laughs (and Carolyn Meyer’s one-woman show) anchors her Most Useful Girl Award and several Bucknell charms, among them, Sigma Tau Delta and Alpha Lambda Delta.
Charm Bracelet

" "In the ’50s, when Carolyn “Callie” Meyer ’57 finally won the coveted charm anointing her “the Most Useful Girl” in her high school, she never imagined it would become the rallying cry of her one-woman stage show 60-some years later. After a late foray into standup comedy, this prolific author (60-plus books!) leveraged the charm as the closing punch line of her show. Following 13 sold-out performances that drove audiences wild in her hometown of Albuquerque, Meyer’s piece was selected by the United Solo Theatre Festival for an Oct. 27 off-Broadway performance.

A lot of my show, “Don’t Call Me Young Lady!,” is a memoir. It goes through my relationship with my mother — we did not get along. She was a gorgeous, talented woman who thought I’d inherit her looks and talent. She won the Most Useful Girl award in school, so it was my dream to win it too, and I did win it my senior year of high school. It was a validation at that time. And now I’m validated in an entirely different way, because my work is going to New York.

The show’s title is all about being labeled — calling a woman “young” when she’s obviously not young is labeling her with expectations of who she is and what she should be doing. It doesn’t fit any of us. It’s condescending! It makes me want to slap people who pretend it’s flattering.

At the end of my show, after I’ve told some very raunchy stories, I say to the audience, “Can you imagine what my mother would think? She hoped I’d turn out well, but I turned out just as badly as she thought I would. But my dad would have loved that I became a writer, a wife, a mother, a lover, a comedian — and the Most Useful Girl!” That’s when I hold up the bracelet, the audience goes nuts, and I get a standing ovation. And that’s why this charm is still my little prize.
— As told to Susan Lindt