Saturday, 13 August 2011

Blindsided by Debra Winger

Next time I watch a cheesy Lifetime movie, I'm going to Google it first so there are no nasty surprises.

Had an evening to myself.  Dreamt of going big. Movie theatre or Video Store.  Ultimately surrendered to the Lifetime network and one of its faithful stars, Debra Winger.

Single mother, four kids, tons of bills.  Mom lands great job, meets fabulous guy, gets debilitating disease.  That's what I call a Saturday night.

Mother overcoming disease, learning to walk and talk again.  Boyfriend sticks by her.  Kids make a schedule and post it on the fridge.  Perfect.

*Five years later* some of the actors have been replaced, Debra and Boyfriend are married, one of the kids gets engaged.

Next thing you know, with like twelve minutes left, Debra drops the youngest kid off at school and her classmate turns around to show the name on his varsity jacket.  Columbine High School.

You're not serious.

Yes, they were serious.

In the final seven minutes of the two hour and thirty nine minute movie, the youngest daughter (spoiler alert) gets shot and killed in the Columbine massacre.

Turns out it was based on a true story.  I obviously should've gathered a little more information going in.

There's some Chekhov quote about how if you are going to use a sword to kill someone in the third act, you should have it hanging on the wall in the first act. And the reverse is also true - if you're going to have a sword hanging around throughout the show, it should at some point be used to kill someone.

Nice that she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for this role.  Maybe she should have spent a little more time reading Chekhov.

I want to believe that Valerie Bertinelli would've had the decency to warn me.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

House guests, Smoked Meat, and a Helpful Equation

Monday morning at the water cooler.  N regaling me with tales of weekend house guests featuring dog pictures on a cell phone, too much scotch and a single face cloth.

Story gets even weirder.

House guests hail from quite a distance, and have always wanted to try pastrami, corned beef smoked meat. N and husband trek down to the mecca.  Park, wait in line.

Visitors reluctant to order for themselves.  I understand.  Sandwiches notoriously complicated.  Much to consider.  Lean. Or not.

N pauses the story.  "Let me ask you something.  If you were to order smoked meat sandwiches for a group, how many would you order?"

"How many were you?"


"Five? Six?"

"They wanted to split a sandwich."

"You mean split their second sandwich?"

"No.  The three of them and one sandwich."

I have never actually heard of three people splitting one sandwich.  And a smoked meat sandwich on top of it? I am not sure whether to call Ripley's Believe it or Not, the Guinness Book of World Records, or 911.

In fact, I told N, I have an equation for ordering smoked meat sandwiches.  It's {[(number of people + 1)sandwiches] + [(number of people-2) fries]}.

My family went through a stage of picking up deli on a fairly regular basis and I found someone was always hunting through wax paper for that last salty hit of nitrates, and I routinely had bags of fries ziplocked optimistically in my freezer.  And a mathematical solution was born.  Try it, you'll thank me.

We have all had house guests.  And we have all come to understand that people have quirky habits that you never really know about until you spend time under the same roof.

I can handle the dog glamour shots.  The scotch.  Hell, I can even ignore a few facecloth infractions.  But sharing a smoked meat sandwich three ways?

That's unnatural.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Kumbaya, My Lord, Kumbaya

Driving T to sports camp the other morning.  She looks out the window and says "If I have a black boyfriend when I grow up, I'm going to dump him."

Quick internal debate.  Should I ask her why she would agree to go out with this hypothetical guy in the first place if she knew she was going to dump him?  Should I tell her she doesn't have to worry about boyfriends, she's only six?  Or, is the temptation to jump on my soapbox so great that I will take advantage of any opportunity to start preaching?

"What? Why would you dump him? You are allowed to have a black boyfriend.  You can have any boyfriend you want.  Black, white, green, anything."  (Soapbox it is. Bet you saw it coming.)

"REALLY?" (shocked).  "Thanks Mom, you're awesome".

That was too easy.

"Mom, have you ever had a black boyfriend?"

Umm, define black.  Define boyfriend.  Define had.

"Yeah.  I dated a few black guys a loooooong time ago."  Whether or not one guy ended up getting a PhD from Harvard and is a distinguished professor today probably isn't relevant to the conversation.

"So wait a second, this means Dad coulda been black? We coulda had a black Dad?  I gotta tell the brothers about this one."

Wait a second, I tell her.  Who I went out with is my private business not to be shared with the brothers.  I go on to explain about knitting girl talk, and how when a girlfriend or a mom or a girl cousin shares something in confidence it is not to be repeated.  Especially not to boys.

Then I remembered she just finished kindergarten.

Few hours later I'm giving the brothers a lift and I realize I better tell them the whole story  before they start posting on facebook that they could've been the illegitimate love children of Mos Def.

I open with "Funny story.  Driving your sister this morning..." and end with "a few black guys a looong time ago."  Whether or not one of these guys was captain of a varsity team at the time probably wasn't relevant to the conversation.

B looks at me and says "Are you seriously telling me she didn't know that?  I thought everyone knew."

The complaint tie-in:

To avoid complaints later about who your kids are or are not dating, its probably best to state your preferences up front.  When they are six, it's all new information, but by the time they turn 12, they probably know more than you think.

Monday, 1 August 2011

I'm Parched

We went on a spectacular luxury family tour of Israel.  It was so organized, we met unbelievably interesting people, everyone had a blast.


But the good news is - I have a complaint.

The price of the tour included all the hotels, most of the meals, admission to all the museums, movies, special exhibits, a Bar Mitzvah for our son, a full time tour guide, use of the air conditioned bus.

But it didn't include water.

There we were, in a sweltering country, at the hottest time of year, and we had to pay for our own water.

True, it was great service being able to get our water on the bus and not have to buy it from any of the convenience stores en route.  But it woulda been even better had it been free.  We were in the desert for Crissakes. I rode a g-ddam camel.

The bus driver had a nice little racket going.  He probably paid $2 a case at the Costco and he charged us over $1 a bottle.  Some people were convinced that we were paying cost.

Yeah right.

He was just being a nice guy.

A few suggestions:

  • The tour company could have increased our cost by a few bucks and given us unlimited free water bottles.  
  • If they were worried about people stuffing their pockets with water bottles, they could have increased our cost and given us water at pre-determined points of the day (e.g., one per person per stop).
  • They could have given us free refillable water bottles and encouraged us to refill them before we got on the bus.  
  • They could have brought us to a Costco and let us buy cases of water that we could have left on the bus.
  • They could have given us free mojitos and we would have forgotten all about the water.
I am planning to write a detailed letter to the tour company telling them about everything they did right, and then slip in a few of these water related remarks in as constructive a fashion as possible.

This is a very minor complaint in light of everything that went well on the tour.  

But isn't it comforting to know that even in the face of first-class travel, I will find something to complain about?

And isn't it also comforting to know that I will share my complaint with you?