February 22, 2012

Although its series finale aired more than 15 years ago, Clarissa Explains it All, which ran on Nickelodeon from 1991 until 1994, has left an indelible mark on a generation of kids who were, for a time, smitten by the sitcom’s disregard for the fourth wall, its embrace of youth-centric “issues,” and its surprisingly fashion-savvy title character’s uncanny knack for throwing up her palms with smart-alecky, whatcanyoudo brass. Clarissa sure did explain a lot, but it’s Melissa Joan Hart, the 35-year-old actor who player her, who tells us what happened to the precocious protagonist. According to the star of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Drive Me Crazy, and, currently, ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey, it involves everything from a BA to a TP.  

Hey there! It’s me, Clarissa Darling. It’s been a while since we’ve caught up, so I thought I would write a letter to all my friends out there to update you on what’s been going on these past 18 years. Some of you might know that I spent some time in the Big Apple getting my BA and working as a journalist at some of the most prestigious and respected news organizations in the world. But that was boring, and I got sick of the know-it-alls who were running the zoo, so I started working for a magazine that was strictly for and about pop stars. Talk about vapid! I quickly switched genres and went to work writing about real musicians, people with actual talent. I went on a bunch of tours with super-famous rock bands and got to see the inner workings of some true artists who think of the crazy world of touring as work. It was fascinating to be on a bus with so many amazing artists.

I went to Europe with Florence + the Machine, toured the beaches of Australia with bands like Alien Ant Farm and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even spent some time in Nashville with Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot the breeze with some real American icons like Johnny Cash and Trent Reznor, and I’ve even partied with Gwen Stefani here and there. Let’s just say, I can’t complain. Life has been good to me!

On tour with the Foo Fighters back in 2002, I was on the bus after a show in Louisville, interviewing Dave Grohl for my cover story, “I Pity the Foo,” when his security guard, Mitchell, came to escort Dave to his next appointment. It was love at first sight, and I’m not even sure I believe in that junk. But since that hot summer’s day in Kentucky, I have been crazy about Mitch. (I always did have a thing for those strong, quiet types like Clifford Spleenhurfer.) We were married in 2004. Guess who was my maid of honor? My lifelong friend Sam! He was the best maid of honor a girl could have asked for, way better than that super- nerd brother of mine, Ferguson.

Yes, Fergface and I are all grown up, and he is the proud father of three kids now: two boys and a girl, all of them with hair as red as my cinnamon-flavored gum. He and his wife, Chelsea, spend most of their lives in D.C. trying to coach their offspring to become the next Mark Zuckerbergs, but with me as their cool auntie, the kids are exposed to tons of great culture and different lifestyles.

My parents, Janet and Marshall, are still together and living in the house we grew up in, which is great, except during the holidays when all of us are squashed in our old rooms again, squabbling over the bathroom. Dad is extremely grateful that I found a nice, big, strong man to marry me; even though he was pretty clueless the whole time, he felt guilty about allowing Sam full access to my bedroom through my window all those years. But now he’s over it since it didn’t amount to anything more than a forever friend.

Sam’s doing great, too. He moved to Seattle and became really in- volved in forestry. He even lives in a tree to keep her safe from the thugs who want to turn her into toilet tissue.

I love my grownup life, but sometimes I pine for the good old responsibility-free days of childhood when my biggest dilemma was, When will I get my driver’s license? Still, I can’t complain. It’s like Nietzsche says, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

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