Dogs, Cars, the Past, and the Party

Dogs, Cars, the Past, and the Party

Tammy Knickerbocker explains why it's tough to be on TV.


Well let me start out by saying that this last week's episode (#206) held a rather shocking and unpleasant surprise for me. Believe it or not, the viewing of this episode was the first time that I became aware of the party that took place at my house while I was out of town, put on by my daughter Lindsey. Needless to say, I am very upset about it. Even my voice-over at the end of the scene expresses relief that no parties had taken place during my absence. I felt I had covered all bases to prevent such an event from happening by locking up the house and arranging for Lindsey to stay with her father for the weekend. Now I realize that the exact opposite was true.

Lindsey had admitted to me a few months later that she invited a "couple friends" over that night. Obviously that was quite an understatement and I'll be speaking with her about the issue shortly.

This brings up an interesting point about being a character on a reality TV show. By some of the comments I have received (in person and in my blog), it appears that many viewers are under the false impression that the reality they are watching is taking place in real-time. In actuality, most of it occurred months ago, such as the party that took place at my house. It's very odd to watch something like that and feel angry, and yet at the same time be aware that it happened months ago and is practically old news. It is not uncommon for me or the other housewives to be spoken to as if the various events on screen happened just yesterday.

I often hear feedback from people encouraging me to "get over the past and move on." I will say that despite our little trips down memory lane in the show, I am not really prone to sentimentality by nature. Dwelling on the past has never served me well in the present, where the business of life takes place. Notwithstanding, without my history, my story, as could possibly be depicted on TV, probably wouldn't be of much interest to the average viewer if it taken completely out of context.

I would speculate that the producers chose to lay some groundwork and show more of my past in order to give more clues to my present and future state of affairs, especially since I am new to the show. The exceptional is often entertaining for television and common things are, well... common. My story is exceptional only in so much as I once had what many consider the dream life. I enjoyed a privileged lifestyle, a healthy intact family, and a rewarding career.

Life then took me in some different directions and down a few roads I would not have voluntarily chosen as my path. I lost many things of value to me in the process (material and non-material), but in place I think I have received a more centered spirit and the awestruck appreciation of witnessing the unfolding of a life, with all its twists and turns.

I would like to say thank you to all my "new friends" who have expressed kindness and support. I have tried to reply to some of you when time permits, but please forgive me if my computer skills are not up to par. I am slowly acclimating to internet communication and still only learning how to operate a page! But for those of you who have shown concern or asked questions about my background, let me attempt to fill in some of the blanks a little further. Though I am in presently in good economic health with a financially rewarding career, I am no stranger to a diminutive economic status, dating to childhood. My mother (to whom you have been introduced in episode two and with whom, I am sure, you now also hold in high regard) created a loving and happy home despite few creature comforts. That Garden Grove, California household was occasionally chaotic, seeing three stepfathers come and go, and one exceptional stepfather, Dale, come and stay. There was very little disposable family income and at age fifteen I began to make my own purchases- movie tickets, my $600 car, etc., through gainful employment. I have worked ever since.

Three years later I was a college student by day and a cocktail waitress by night. I met the man who would become my husband while working as at his restaurant. We dated, fell in love and married in an additional three years. While Lou certainly provided modicum of stability exceeding my existing situation, we were by no means well off. In fact, when we started our foray into entrepreneurship, we were even forced to move into my mother's house to save precious working capital.

Our determination overcame such challenges though, and our first venture of note was International Beauty Supply, formed in 1985, within which we developed La Vie anti wrinkle cream with Dr. Michael Elam. In episode four, Dr. Elam is seen performing Megan's rhinoplasty, (nose job), and it was due to our twenty year working relationship that his wife Shelly offered me the complimentary facial seen on that episode to show me their new procedure. With the launch of La Vie we pioneered the first use of a celebrity spokesperson on home shopping channels, with Phyllis Diller serving in that role.

The overwhelming success of this product facilitated additional brands and products which we also marketed on QVC, and included the Farrah Fawcett, Angie Dickenson, Phyllis Diller, Joan Collins, Barbara Mandrel and Bob Mackie jewelry lines under the moniker of Knickerbocker Creations. Later Marie Osmond dolls, The Knickerbocker Toy Company and Annette Funicello bears were developed and also launched on QVC. I must say that it was quite exciting working in thriving business and working directly with all of these personalities. The company was taken public in 1995.

At the peak of our success, annual sales were $68.3 million per year, and Lou and I held stock in the company valued at several hundred million dollars. I served on the board of directors and headed the collectables division. I won't bore you with more details. But if anyone is interested, the company's history is presented in great detail on the following link,

It was at Knickerbocker that I met Scott Dunlop, the creator and executive producer of The Real Housewives of Orange County and through our long-standing friendship I came to be invited as a featured character.

A series of misfortunes including stock manipulation by outside brokerage houses through a short selling scheme caused investor confidence in the stock to be torpedoed. In order to compensate, our personal assets were used to collateralize borrowing to prop up the ailing company but the stress eventually became unbearable and creditors foreclosed on the amounts lent. The company was forced into bankruptcy in and our personal assets were lost with it. During this same time I discovered Lou was having an affair we preceded towards divorce as matters unraveled severely on all levels.

Perhaps soon the trials of life will yield some reprieve, but if not, it is still OK. Reality will be what it is. I am excited to see what twists and turns unfold in the future. For now I'll try to focus on the excitement occurring at present (or the "reality-show present" of a few months ago) and answer a few more questions that have been brought up in recent episodes, such as Megan's dog show and Lindsey's new car and the status of her driving skills.

A few episodes back, I was shown going to a dog show for Megan. Many people were wondering why it seemed difficult for me to attend and why it appeared to mean a lot to her that I did. First of all let me say that I think it is great that Megan has a special place in her heart for animals. I love animals, though I really do not like taking care of them myself. I would say any animal that Megan has is probably the luckiest animal in the world. But I am hesitant to spend time with Megan when she is with her dogs because as the mother of a small child, I could not bear to take a chance of anything going wrong. Now that is not to lay blame on any particular breed of dog. That is simply the cautious mother in me, and my concern over dealing with any animal that could be unpredictable when put in certain situations.

Regarding Lindsey's car wreck, I have to admit that I was not shocked that Lindsey got in a wreck the first day after receiving her driver's license. I was just relieved that nobody was hurt in the accident. Megan called to tell me about accident and she began by saying "Mom, don't worry but..." Of course that caused me to go from not-worried to worried in about 2.2 nanoseconds.

I have been driving with Lindsey for two years, she was afraid to get her license. It took until she was almost eighteen years old to finally take the test. Now when I was a kid, I recall being unable to wait until I turned sixteen so I could start driving. I guess things are different since all of Lindsey's friends have cars and she is able to get around town with them. I am glad she waited, but more than anything else I'm pleased that she did it herself. I advised both my girls that if they wanted their licenses, they needed to figure out the process for themselves, what paper work is required, etc.

I thought that if they were old enough to drive than they are old enough to figure it out. However, to be honest, I was also probably trying to delay the inevitable. I believe that most parents are terrified to see their children behind the wheel. It's a very vulnerable moment.

Then of course matters accelerated further when Lindsey's father decided to hand her a brand new BMW as her first car. On one hand I was happy to see her so happy. On the other hand, that was not a decision I would have made. And this is the common challenge of divorced parents. Inevitably there are two different parenting styles and the children gravitate back and forth in allegiance to the parent that they might "like" the most at the time. It's very, very difficult and certainly must be confusing for kids when you cannot present a united front on issues. I aspire to be the best parent I can be based upon the tools and experience gained in my own life. I grew up in a very strict environment. While I am not saying this was necessarily bad, I do feel that being in such a strict environment has made adult decision-making challenging for me at times. I am inclined to look for approval or I might waiver at times.

The ability to make decisions for oneself is very important towards building confidence and decisiveness. While I have tried to raise my girls in a method I felt was right, I have made mistakes. If I could go back and do it over again, I would change a few of my decisions. The bottom line is you raise your children to be the best they can be, show and tell them they are loved, give them the tools they need to become complete and happy adults. But, after all is said and done, when your job winds to a close you need to take a step back and let them make their own mistakes and live their own lives. Of course, my door is always open to them for advice or just listening. I'll leave it at that for now and save the next entry to talk about Duff, dating and Ryley. In the meantime, I need to go nail my doggy door shut.

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