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The Pool Rules

It’s summer in New York. Lip sweat is out in full force, I’m on my second can of Nexxus humidity control hairspray, and I constantly think it’s raining only to realize I’m actually just getting spat upon by all the AC units in the windows above me working to their fullest capacity. It. Is. Hot.

Of course one of the first things that comes to mind at this time of year are memories of summers spent at the pool as a kid. Before my summers were spent performing with theater programs both at home in LA and in New York (2006 – the summer I knew I was in love with this city), there were summers spent at the pool. Notice I didn't say “by the pool”… AT the pool.

In Mississippi and Texas a huge part of summer was going to the pool. This pool, usually at the country club, was where the entire community would come to brave the heat together. It was a place for parents and kids alike to spend time with their friends. Crushes were forged at the pool. The world’s problems were solved over popsicles at the pool. And the stakes were never so high at the pool as when my mother told me it was time to reapply my sunscreen. “But Moooooom, none of the OTHER kids have to reapply!! Why do I?!?” I’m sure she was very gentle with her response, but if older Mary Lane could have a conversation with younger Mary Lane my answer to that question would go something like this: “Because the other kids aren’t TRANSLUCENT, little Mary Lane, which in the long run will be their loss because when they turn 50 their skin will be leathery and brown while yours will still be smooth and porcelain. I know it makes you look super un-cool right now, but keep lathering on that SPF75 and I promise you will get the last laugh.”

Oh the things I would say to my younger self. But that’s a conversation for another time.

Getting back on topic: no trip to the pool was complete without a recitation of the pool rules: No running. No jumping backwards off the diving board. No getting back in the pool until 20 minutes after eating. That was always the biggest bummer for me because I was ALWAYS eating. Finally, there was a rule about how long people could be in the pool. Because there were so many kids and parents wanting to swim, on days that were particularly crowded the lifeguards would enforce 30-minute limits on swim time. It was a good system in retrospect, but at the time it was absolutely infuriating. Especially when there were kids who found a way to sneak by and join the next group. I was never one of those kids.

Those kids exist in adult life too…. The ones who seem to have gotten twice as much time in the pool. Except now I’m referring to a more metaphorical pool. Now I’m talking about The Talent Pool. I firmly believe that everyone on this earth is here for a reason. Everyone has gifts and talents inside them just waiting to be tapped into. For some it’s their brain, for others it’s their nurturing instincts, and for others like me, it’s their ability to entertain and tell stories. We all got dunked in the metaphorical talent pool and came out with a skill set, with talents uniquely our own. But for those people I mentioned earlier, those people who seem to have gotten twice as much time in the talent pool, they are not limited to one particular skill set. Oh no… these people are Gods among men. My favorite example of this select few has always been Queen Bey. Anytime I think I’m doing a pretty good job of being a human being, the thought of Beyoncé alone is enough to remind me of how truly inadequate I am. Try it right now. Think about all the things you got done today and how productive you feel. Now think about Beyoncé. Feel like garbage yet? It’s okay. Any normal person would.

So if Beyoncé is queen of this select group, who else is in her court? Recently I started following Zac Posen on Instagram and it was an equally wonderful and terrible idea. It’s wonderful because I feel like I get to be a part of his beautiful world. I live for his designs, I actually own one myself, and I can’t help but feel like my one “like” amongst his thousands of daily likes makes us best friends. On the flip side it’s terrible because I feel like the laziest person on the planet. In the same day he can post the two following pictures:

Left) A picture of a gorgeous peach torte he just whipped up to accompany the full dinner he just cooked after a long day in his studio spent constructing beautiful gowns.

Right) An example of the beautiful gowns he just spent the day constructing.

Now riddle me this: HOW IS THAT FAIR?!?!

Zac Posen, you did NOT follow the pool rules. Not only did you get extra time in the talent pool, you probably got a running start and did a gorgeous back handspring off the diving board into the talent pool while eating a gluten free cupcake that you baked from scratch. One person shouldn’t get to be that good at that many things! The hashtag #CookingwithZac is enough to make this debutante feel ashamed for how limited my cooking capabilities are. Spread the love. How does a girl get another dunk in the talent pool? Not that I’m not thrilled with my gifts, because I am, but singing my kids to sleep won’t matter much if I can’t make them a beautiful peach torte now will it?

Irrational Fears and Overreacting for $800 please, Alex.

The truth is that at the end of the day, we’re all just doing the best we can. That is my life's motto so I’ll repeat it in my signature font:

We’re all just doing the best we can.

And yes, following Zac Posen on Instagram will sometimes make us feel like our best isn’t quite up to par, but we still do it because, well, it’s gorgeous. Just like I will never stop watching Beyoncé videos on YouTube. They may make me feel like an untalented troll, but a world without Beyoncé is not a world I wish to live in. So if we aren’t willing to let go of the things that make us feel inferior, then what can we do to make ourselves feel better? I’m still working on that myself, but something YOU all can do in the meantime is go ahead and follow The Displaced Debutante on Instagram too. I guarantee I’m not designing mouthwatering gowns and cooking mouthwatering meals. I followed the pool rules, so I’m just doing the best I can… one burrito bowl and sweaty walk through Central Park at a time.

With Grace and Good Humor,


My name is Mary Lane Haskell and my two "claims to fame" are that I have Dolly Parton's fax number and that Reese Witherspoon once liked a post on my Instagram.  I am an actor, a writer, and a profound Chipotle enthusiast making my way in Los Angeles while trying to stay true to my family's southern roots, all with grace and a touch a good humor.  I'm so glad you're here!


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