The Battle to Become the Next Karen Carpenter

Is Rumer, the Anglo-Pakistani chanteuse with a retro-pop heart, the new Karen Carpenter?

Boston Herald

As I took my place in line, 289th according to the number handed to me by officials, I was feeling a little intimidated by some of the other candidates to become the new Karen Carpenter.

There was the French-Canadian girl with the emo-country kidney who had charmed the judges in the prelims–she totally nailed “Close to You.” Bitch–that was my number.

In front of me was an Aleutian Islander who’d been adopted by Lithuanians in Worcester, Mass. I peeked at her application–she apparently had a soul/funk-klezmer spleen. I’d worked hard, I told myself–six years of Karen Carpenter lessons at Ms. Finch’s Easy Listening Finishing School–but it would be tough to compete with that.

Some girls had made a big deal out of skipping the complimentary breakfast buffet–”No thanks, I know Karen would never have a Snack Pak-size box of Special K, much less Pigs in a Blanket,” one said. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth–if she could bring herself to put it there, that is.

Still, I’m the only Swiss-German-Native American contestant with a classical-country-house liver, so I figure it’s worth hanging in there. I’ve already paid my $35 entrance fee, and my mom and dad are here.

In a thoughtful mood . . .


They were the ones who sacrificed so that I’d have a shot at becoming the New Karen Carpenter. They paid for the testosterone therapy that lowered my vocal range by two full octaves; they’d paid for the drum lessons; they were the ones who got me admitted to the experimental liposuction trial to bring my weight down from 120 to 87.5 pounds (avoirdupois).

“Sweetie, you need to take a Stridex Medicated Pad to your T-zone!”


Still, they were getting near retirement age. I couldn’t continue to play the eternal ingenue, forcing them to tap into their life savings to pay for hair extensions so that I’d project the natural, wholesome, girl-next-door image that Karen pulled off so effortlessly. They’d gone out of pocket to have my humdrum, ordinary tonsils removed and replaced with high-performance Zydeco-Polka models.

Oh no–I can’t believe it. Look what that “gal” is bringing in–that’s no fair, no way!

The contest rules specifically said no inflatable Richard Carpenter dolls may be used as props!


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