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Della: A memoir of my daughter

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Stephanie Mendoza

on 24 September 2012

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Transcript of Della: A memoir of my daughter

Chuck Barris Della: A Memoir of my Daughter Stephanie Mendoza Della Charlotte Barris was born at exactly four in the morning on Christmas Eve 1962. Della's father thought that Della was the cutest baby ever. He loved her because of her nose, hair, and basically everything else. He never did mind waking up at 5 a.m in the morning to feed Della, because he loved to look at Della. A Is for Adorable In 1970, Richard Nixon had been president for a year.
Della's mother began thinking about pulling Della out of school so the two of them could move to Europe. Every time Della asked her mother why they were leaving America, her mother just said 'Nixon'. Della's mother boasted so much about leaving that she eventually had to go. C Is for Country N is for Nostalgic After a few years, Della's father left the house. Della tried to stop him. She grabbed her father's waist and screamed for him not to go. Della's father tried prying her hands away, but on accident, he hit Della's jaw. He was sorry, but he still left anyway. B is for Breaking Apart In 1972, shortly after Della and her Mom began living in Switzerland, Della was enrolled in a private boarding school. Della telephoned her dad and said, "The first time I saw my new school was on a cold, gray, rainy day. I remember being bummed when I saw it. My new school looks nothing like my old Montessori school back home.The miserable weather, the old buildings all made me depressed." Della didn't like anything about Switzerland. She thought it was dumb and boring. D is for Deppression The school Della started was called the École. When she started the École, the students were all girls, but then boys started coming in. Della told her father that the grades at the École went from first to twelfth.You didn't room by grades. You roomed with whom ever you wanted to. If you didn't know anyone, you were assigned to someone. E is for École When Della was on vacation, she and her father went to London. They had a lot of fun, until Della got lost. They were in Hyde Park and went into a restaurant to have lunch. At one point, Della went to the bathroom and when she got back she didn't see her father. She went in one of the exit doors to find him, even though he was still in the restaurant. After a while,they eventually found each other back in the restaurant. F is for Found G is for Gong Show By 1975, Richard Nixon had left the White House, and NBC-TV showed their new hit program, The Gong Show, on daytime and nighttime television. Chuck Barris, Della's father, hosted the show. That same year, Della's mother moved back to New York. She placed Della in Horace Mann School. Della liked the school. At the end of May 1975, Della flew to Malibu to live with her father in his beach house for June, July, and August, over her summer vacation. Della's father thought the house was so cozy it was pathetic. Louise Zafina, whom Della's father called Weezy, was the housekeeper. Weezy's sister Judy would come to the house and take care of Della. Della looked upon Judy as her second mother. H is for Home During one of Della's summers in Malibu, Della's father had the idea of having Della introduce him on The Gong Show. Della wasn't thrilled. When Della started introducing her father on the show, she would say, "And now here's the star of the show . . . my daddy!"
A few years later Della's father wrote, directed, and produced a film called The Gong Show Movie. When the movie had it's first screening, there was a video clip of Della introducing her father. The entire audience booed. It was a horrible moment for Della. I is for Introduce It was the end of October 1976. Della was almost fourteen years old. One day in early November, Della's father came to New York and took Della to Serendipity, the best ice cream parlor in new york. Della's father was going to tell a surprise. When they ordered and the waiter was gone, Della's father told Della that he had been told by a judge in New York that he had custody of Della. Della looked horrified. Della's father expected Dell to jump up and down with excitement and joy. He realized he made one of the biggest mistakes in his life. J is for Judge By the time Della arrived in California to live with her father, her father had sold the Malibu house and was living in the Hollywood Hills on St. Ives Drive. Della hated the school there so much she would cry herself to sleep. Della wanted to go to Beverly Hills High School. To be kind, Della's father rented an apartment so Della could go to Beverly Hills High School. Drugs and alcohol were used in Beverly Hills High School. Della overdosed too much drugs and vodka the first week she started there. Della overdosed for the first time when she was fourteen. This was another mistake Della's father would never forget. K is for Kind Della began to disobey he father more and more. She would get into car accidents, get too drunk, and she even shoplifted. Della joined a gang of bullies. They would grab boys and girls after school and rob them of anything they had valuable. Della was the gang's leader. One night, Della's gang trapped a girl and hit her everywhere. Della's father got a call by the girl's mother and made him pay for the girl's hospital bill and the valuable things they stole from her. Della's father said that Della was a walking nightmare. L is for Leader On December 24, 1978, it was Della's sweet sixteenth birthday. Della didn't like that her birthday was in December, because of birthday and Christmas presents. Della's father would buy two dozen presents to cover both days. He even bought more presents for Christmas. When she opened all of her presents she was mad. There was one think she didn't get that she really wanted. A gold Rolex wristwatch. Then Della wanted to leave. When she was getting into the taxi her father threw a gift through the car door window. It was the gold Rolex wristwatch. M is for Merry Christmas There was someone who finally cared about Della. His name was Billy. He wanted Della to give up drugs. Della's father didn't like him, even though he hadn't met him. He was a high-school dropout, a construction worker, and he drove a motorcycle. He asked Billy to come over one day, and when he started asking questions, he walked about. Della was devastated. She felt nostalgic for Billy. O is for over and over When Billy left the house, Della ran away from home.
She took as much money as she could find in the house, put her belongings in a knapsack, and ran away from home. Della's father didn't know what to do all day long. He thought the nightmare would go on over and over and never stop. The second day, Della's father panicked and called everywhere for help. Della slept in an alley those two days. In the morning, she was kicked in he ribs and two teenagers were punching and kicking Della. They stole her money and even her gold Rolex wristwatch. The morning of the mugging Della returned home. Della's father took Della to a psychiatrist in Brentwood.
Della was wearing an outlandish that embarrassed Della's father. When Della went into the office with the doctor, she took a baby bottle out of her backpack and drank out of it. She wouldn't answer any of the questions that the doctor asked her. When they left, Della showed up at her father's office. She told her father she wanted to drop out of school and leave home. Della's father agreed. This was another one of his mistakes. P is for psychiatrist It was 1982 and Della was nineteen years old. She telephoned her dad and said that she was getting married. She was getting married with someone named Tony. Della quoted that her father let her live on her own, so she could do what she wanted. Della's father was going to pay for the wedding. Della didn't love Tony. At all. Eighteen people came to Della's wedding. Tony and Della, Tony's mother and father, Tony's three older sisters and their husbands, some friends of Della's mother, Della's father and his date. Q is for quote Della turned twenty-eight in 1990. Della was spending money, having a good time, and living the good life. She had a sign over her room that said:
IF IT AIN'T FUN - DON'T DO IT
Della told her friends that her father gave her a lot of money to get rid of her. She said her father gave her a million dollars and told her not to come home until she was 'drug-free'. In short, get lost. Della got herself a nose job. She also had her teeth recapped, a chin tuck, a brow lift, and her eyes fixed. R is for Rambunctious Della's friends told Della's father that she started going to discos all by herself. She didn't need a date. She would enter the dance floor and everyone would yell, "Della's here!" Della's father thought Della was acting very sassy.
Della wasn't afraid to do anything: drugs, dancing, singing, talking a dare, or spending money. Della was finally popular. Tons of people knew her name and who she was. Della loved Madonna. She knew all her songs by heart. She was also very passionate about her record collection. Della would listen to them at night, pretending to be whoever was singing. S is for sassy It was December 24, 1992. Della was thirty years old. She called her father sobbing that she was all alone and nobody cared. She said she hated the Christmas carols on the radio and that it was supposed to be frightful and cold, not 80 degrees outside. She reminded her father about how he always bought her 12 presents on Christmas eve and 12 presents on Christmas. She said now he doesn't give her presents anymore. Della hated the winter. T is for Thirty Della's father sold his business, got married again, and moved to France. That all took place in the eighties. He also wrote multiple books. Then the nineties came. Della was still living in her all-white apartment. The only change in her life, was that she was spending too much money. She couldn't stand working. She tried being a comedian. She thought she would be ultra famous, but, she wasn't. The audience got bored quick with her. The next night was the same. Bad. And the next. Then Della met Strickland. She hated him, but he was getting Della drugs if she could pay for them. And Della was running out of money. U is for ultra In 1995, Della's father moved back to New York to make up with Della. He wanted Della and him to have a father and daughter relationship again. He was in New York and Della was in Los Angeles. Della's father told Della that he was coming to see Della. Della was so excited she couldn't stand it. She was so vivacious when she heard this. She put all of the mementos of her and her father around the house. Judy told Della's father that Della counted the days before he was scheduled to come. He never came. V is for vivacious After not coming the first time to see Della, Della's father telephoned Della and told her he was coming. He was going to pick her up at her apartment. The odd thing is, Della's father would never see Della's apartment, or the shrine she made for him. Not as long as Della was alive. Or even afterward. When Della's father came to see Della, Della ran to him and hugged him. He hadn't seen Della's plastic surgery, and when he did, he was devastated. He thought she looked completely different. She looked very thin. They drove to the park where Della learned to walk and found a bench. They talked and talked until Della's father had to go. W is for waiting Della wasn't in an excellent state. She was falling apart. She hated getting up in the morning. She said if she didn't have to go to the bathroom she would never leave her bed. Ever. Della's father met Mary. The only time Della would get up to leave her apartment was when Mary and Della's father would come to Los Angeles, call Della, and they would take Della to a restaurant. Della's father finally had found a girlfriend Della liked. When they went out to eat, Della would wear an outlandish outfit. After Marry and Della's father returned to Manhattan, Della would phone them constantly. X is for excellent It was Christmas Eve 1997, Della's birthday. She turned thirty-five years old. She had seven months to live. When Della's father called her, Della was talking over and over about how she took pictures of herself and doggies to remember the moment. She thought it was a waste because when she got the photos, she thought she looked awful and burned the pictures.
Then it was July 1998. Della had sold almost everything to pay for her drug habit. She finally had to sell the last of he jewelery, the ones she loved most. Strickland, the one who bought Della drugs, one day came into her apartment screaming at Della. He destroyed Della's apartment. Almost everything that Della owned. Y is for yappy Mary and Della's father had plans to spend time with Della. They were very zest with life that day. They were thinking about getting married. They took a plane to Los Angeles and when they got to the Peninsula, there was a message waiting for Della's father. He telephoned one of his secretary and she said to call Della's mother. When Della's father asked what was going on, Della's mother said, "Della's dead." When he finished talking he walked outside and held out a snow globe. It was for Della. He received a message the next day that said Della's will states that she wishes to be cremated. She wants her ashes taken to sea and scattered in the pacific ocean. Before Della was cremated, Della's father saw her for the last time and took Judy with him. Della's father was devastated that day. He regretted everything. Z is for zest
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