I've been brain deep in my malingering manuscript so I haven't blogged in a while. Well, that's one reason. The other is I can't think of anything to blog about.
I don't know how daily bloggers do it. I'm not that clever.
Anyway...my mind has been taken over by most things dark and usually when I blog it's about things that annoy me. Or, things I'm trying to figure out.
I decided to shake it up and write about things I love. Like, really love. Like, couldn't live another day if I didn't have them, love. Things I love so much they put that weird expression on my face.
Besides, I can't think of anything better.
The Bad Seed.
If you've never seen this, your life is not what it could be.
Originally a book, then a play, then a movie...which was made even better because the theater cast played their roles in the movie so their performances are over the top to say the least. Their dramatic, back of the house, approach to acting only adds to the creepy campiness of this fantastic film.
Rhoda, Rhoda, Rhoda. What to do about Rhoda.
One of the first, if not the first, fictional work to explore the nature vs. nurture theory. Are psychos born or made? Is there a serial killer gene? If your mother was a serial killer are you destined to make lampshades and door knob covers out of your neighbors, or perhaps enjoy them with some fava beans and a little Chianti?
According to The Bad Seed - of course you are.
Rhoda is an 8 year old force of bad genetic nature. She kills those who don't give her what she wants. Clearly, it's not her fault. If that brat Claude Dagle would've given her the award that he won, but she obviously deserved, he'd still be alive today and not floating on the rocks in the lake with tap shoe marks on his forehead.
Only Rhoda could make "If I give you a basket of kisses will you give me a basket of hugs?" sound like, "Don't turn your back on me bitch or you're next."
It's worth seeing if only to watch two mothers', one the killer's and the other the murdered boy's, mutual meltdown. Mesmerizing.
Every year I try to make this a Christmas tradition (aren't we sick of Elf already?) but it never takes. Usually hubby is the only one I can corral to sit through it annually. The egg nog helps.
So, I saw the original of this in the LA Times.
As you'd expect, I had to have it and I tracked down a copy.
This is hanging on my wall, in my house. I don't know what I love about it more...the fact that it's hilarious and tacky, or that everyone who sees it looks at it, then quickly away.
Once, the pizza delivery guy asked if he could take a picture of it.
If the pizza delivery guy loves it...what more do I need?
I wouldn't want to spend another day in a place with no presents.
I'm not one of those "it's the thought that counts," kinda gals. Especially if it's "the lack of thought that counts" sorta presents.
I make a list, including website and item number information so hubby can SURPRISE me. Although, he gets surprised too...when he sees the price. But, he's a sport. Or, he's so relieved not to have to come up with something that he'll absolutely know I'll love that he goes with it.
This list comes in particularly handy at birthday time. And no, I don't celebrate my birthday week. What kind of chump do you think I am?
I celebrate my birthday trimester. No, that is not a typo.
It's 3 months of fun and games at our house. We (and by that I mean hubby) do it up right. For 3 months it's all about me and my presents.
I don't make him watch the Bad Seed for nothin'.
I Love Lucy.
If there's a heaven it's at 623 East 68th Street and Lucy and Ricky still live there and Fred and Ethel come in without knocking and mayhem ensues.
Whenever I'm in a jam, I think...What would Lucy do? Then I usually don't do it to avoid an even bigger jam.
I own all zillion episodes and never tire of them. I laugh like I've never seen them before every time. I can recite dialogue. I have my favorite episode (no, not the candy making one). It's the Ethel Goes to Her Hometown one. Look it up and watch it. You won't be sorry.
I love Lucy not just because she makes me laugh, but because Lucy was gangsta. She had creative control over her show (unheard of for a woman in the 50's) and she was the first woman studio owner (RKO became Desilu Studios).
Not to mention Desi Arnaz, who originated the concept of re-runs, who gave up salary at the front end to own the show outright and got all the residuals, and created the 3 camera method that is still used today to film TV shows.
Yet, he couldn't recognize his own wife in a moustache and a sombrero.
Home Town Buffet.
Any restaurant with "All You Can Eat" on their sign is my kinda place. Especially if there's 37 tables groaning with every kind of preservative loaded, calorie laden, and artery plugging food imaginable.
I love to eat the fried chicken, pasta, tacos, mashed potatoes and corn dogs all on one plate. Some call it gluttony. I call it carb loading. After all I am in physical therapy.
I love it that I'm usually one of the only one's there under 400 pounds. I love the old ladies that take huge bags and sneak everything they can out. Including the sugar packets on the tables. I love it that people come at lunch and are still there at dinner. I've heard.
Word to the wise: Try to avoid going on crab leg day. It's a life risking proposition. You know you're in deep shit when a brigade shows up wearing headsets so they can put out the call when they find the seafood table. And those big MOFO's can move fast.
Run for your life. If you can get your pants buttoned back up.
Tasteless Religious Chotchkes.
This is Sock Monkey Jesus.
Although, Woodstock Sock Monkey Jesus is more apt. Love the Jesus Christ Superstar 'do and the beads.
This was a gift from our son.
He knows how to get on his mama's good side.
Action Figure Jesus.
He has wheels on his sandals. If you run him up and down a flat surface really fast and let go of him, he takes off.
It looks like he's walking on water.
Another gift from our son.
He's in the will now.
I don't even have to hunt any of this down. It comes to me.
This guy was found by our gardener. Buried in the yard, in a plastic bag, upside down.
If you're up on your Saints (which I am) you'll know that Saint Joseph is the patron saint of property, more specifically houses. If you want to buy or sell a house, you bury him upside down in the lawn of said property.
This find was enough to make me take up gardening. Or, give the gardener a tip. Whatever.
Freida Kahlo cross.
Those are coke bottle caps painted with her image.
Including her mustache. And unibrow.
Need I embellish?
I don't know if Voo Doo counts as a religion.
I don't know why not.
This was a gift from our daughter, Kristen. Another one in the will.
At any rate, whenever I see this I say, "Oh MY GOD! I LOVE this thing!" So that makes it religious.
This is an hors d'ouerves platter. The pins are to stick the finger food with.
I've used this at countless dinner parties.
Not one person has ever taken the stick out of his crotch.
And finally, this photo, even though it's not very focused.
This is me and my mom at my book signing, two months before she died.
That's her. Holding one of the book marks that were made by my good friend Mary Beth in honor of my book.
There's something so perfect about my nearly 80 year old mother holding a 13 inch Rob Rhino dick book mark.
She said she'd seen better. My mom was the last of the old school broads.
I loved that about her.
“How hot is it in this hell hole dump anyway?” I sounded a lot like a bitch, but so what?
The fat guy behind the counter looked over the top of his bi-focals, silent, sweating, letting that one pass. We stared each other down. He was this close to calling me little lady. They say things like that in the Heartland. Just one reason I hated it. I didn’t have time to pick a petty squabble, so I carried on without pressing.
My son gripped my sweaty hand with his sweatier one. We looked a sight. I was too young to be his mother, but still I was. He was too smart to be only a four year-old, but still he was. We spent all our time together, just the two of us – so we made the best of it. There we were, new in town (again), poor (still), and shopping for shoes on the only street with stores. Freakishly, we looked exactly alike back in the day. I was taller.
The August humidity beat us down, its assault relentless. I wanted to get out of the blistering store, quick. As usual, I had more need than money. But, I’d grown skilled at account juggling when purchasing anything that couldn’t get eaten or didn’t keep the roof over our heads. What bill would go unpaid so I could buy shoes?
My son had no such worries. Happy to be out of our basement apartment with no windows, he talked a blue streak, his still dimpled hand tight in mine. We lived like moles. We’d hit daylight, blink-blink-blink, hard and fast, getting used to the sun. It occurred to me this was not, necessarily, a normal way to live. I knew there was a better way. Just not for people who couldn’t keep the phone turned on because they had to buy Payless shoes.
Daniel was a shoe guy, even at four. He led me, arm stretched out like a leash, up and down the aisles. The bubble gum smashed on hot rubber aroma crept up our noses. We sped through the cheap inventory like K-Mart Dollar Days veterans.
“Mother (he always called me Mother, but would’ve preferred first names), you won’t believe it.” He hopped up and down, his floppy, worn sandals almost mute on the cheap carpet. He lunged, grabbing up the shoes his dreams were made of like they’d been surrounded by a pack of pleather loving, bargain hunting jackals.
There they were – tacky in a lidless box – two toned, brown and white cowboy boots with fringe.
Ecstatic, Daniel whooped, elated, pogoing like a jumping bean. Wondering about the ruckus, the fat man behind the counter waddled over. By the time he lumbered down the aisle Daniel yanked his sandals off, leaving his socks on pulled up to his knees (that’s another story) and jerked the boots on both feet. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen him so happy, his cocoa colored eyes took up most of his face, glistening with wonder at his luck.
“Well, Mama, looks like you gotta little Roy Rogers on yer hands there,” the fat man winked. They say things like that in the Heartland.
I smiled, nodded, my face blank as rice paper. Roy Rogers? Dale Evans, maybe. They don’t say things like that in the Heartland though, so my lips stayed sealed.
Daniel swiped at his damp brow, skipped, then ran and kept on running, up and down every aisle.
“Daniel, stop,” I hollered.
Fat man put his hand on my arm to shush me. “Now, Mama, boys will be boys and he’s gotta try out them thar boots, get ‘em broke in.”
Boys will be boys - unless they want to be girls.
Wouldn’t this porky cowpoke choke on his beef jerky if he knew?
Daniel loved those boots because they were the closest things to high heels he could get – boy pumps. He loved their look, the clack-clack sounds, and the added height. Not to mention the fringe that swung in hysteria every time he moved - the closest he’d been to heaven.
Even at the tender age of four, it was clear that in the poker game of life my son had been dealt a full house, queens high.
But, they don’t say things like that in the Heartland, or anywhere that I knew of, so no one said it. But, like all elephants in the room it weighed a ton or two (tutu and pink feather boa notwithstanding) and we ignored it. Daniel and I pulled it around like the frozen pig fat Oprah plopped down in the wagon on her first weight loss show.
It was our secret.
He was too young to know much about it, other than he thought other boys acted dumb and he’d rather try on his mother’s clothes than play with guns. He had masculine toys. He loved the He-Man action figures. But, Princess Teela was his favorite. He’d gotten the Castle of Doom for Christmas and Teela always beat the shit out of He-Man and sent him to the dungeon. Daniel knew, in his little boy gut, that I didn’t mind and wouldn’t discourage him.
Maybe it was my youth, my blissful ignorance, but I didn’t expect he would be someone else. I didn’t know that I should try to influence his personality, lucky for us. I didn’t love him less or feel disappointment. That was our bond, and the way it went, for years.
From the bottom of my scraggly purse, I scraped up the $6.00 to pay for the boots he still had on and we left, fat man grinning and waving us out. Still on his boy pump high Daniel kicked one of the several metal poles holding up the awning running the length of the sidewalk…then the next one…and the one after that.
It was unlike me not to stop him. I was hard on him. I didn’t have the slightest clue what to do with him. His wicked intelligence made him seem older and I expected him to act it. When he behaved like a child it annoyed and embarrassed me. After all, at seventeen, I was a child when he was born. If anyone was going to act like a baby, it was going to be me.
But, for those few moments, I let my son act like a four year old.
A four year old in boy pumps with fringe.
He galloped down the sidewalk kicking poles. All dark hair and eyes, plump fists at his sides, his round face broken by his smile, legs askew, kicking up and out, fringe flying.
His giddy happiness made us both forget about the stupefying heat. Soon the poles lost their allure and he moved on to the parked cars. First he kicked a couple of tires. Not such a big deal.
“Daniel, don-” I couldn’t finish the admonishment. What I wouldn’t have given to kick stuff. How did I get here? Well, I knew how I got there. The problem would be getting out. Dwelling below the surface of the earth, eating Rice-a-Roni only on special occasions, and watching Eight is Enough reruns every night was the same life I’d rebelled against and here I stood, living it. Good move.
WHAM! The sound of a plastic cowboy boot toe hitting the metal side of a car door rang loud. Probably time to act like a mother – something I struggled with. Still, I couldn’t fake anger. I hated this town, this life. I had no idea who owned that car but I felt sure I’d hate them too. What did I care? He whacked two more doors before I grabbed him by the arm and went through the discipline motions.
“Mother,” Daniel’s gaze bore into mine, tears about to run over. “Are you mad at me? Don’t you like my boots?” He searched me. Like always, he tried hard to read me, gauge my moods to intervene with a quip, a joke or a kiss if he saw sorrow. He hadn’t gone to school yet but he made me laugh harder than anyone I’d ever known.
“No, I’m not mad.” I always spoke the truth to him. Another not good parenting plan. “I’m happy for you. And yes, those boots are…fantastic.” He grabbed my hand again. When he held it he really held on, and seemed as he rarely did, like a little boy - at my mercy and small. Like we were the only survivors on the island and he knew for certain holding my hand was the right thing to do, that I could save him.
Didn’t he know I was the one who needed saving?
When he got older, and things changed, his hands could still break my heart. When his words were bitter, his hands were still sweet.
I held his palm up to my mouth and kissed it a bunch, loud cartoonish kisses. He laughed his belly deep, little boy laugh and galloped ahead toward our mole hole, me a little lighter than when I started and Daniel thrilled to wear the most hideous boots this side of Liberace on the 4th of July. Every few steps he’d check behind to make sure I was still there. He feared I’d get lost or fall and hurt myself. He was a worrier, a thinker. I’d smile, nod, and he’d skip on, comforted that all was well.
I couldn’t see the future that day, or any other, and I’m not sure what I would’ve, or could’ve changed if I had. But it was all before…the drugs, the alcohol, the disappointments, and the heartbreak - his, mine, and, ours. Before the better angels of his nature got their asses kicked by the darker ones, before our bond severed, brittle and worn, our relationship swirling into a tailspin, both of us in freefall, without the aid of the other.
I had my opinion, he had his, and they were not the same.
I didn't know what an objective observer would say because I was not one. But I knew this - on that one sweltering day in Junction City, Kansas Daniel was the best little boy in the world and I was his mom.
Laziness is my most marked characteristic so I don't do New Year's resolutions.
At least not for myself.
This year, I decided to turn a new leaf (which is totally different than making a resolution) and make some...for other people. And I'm so lazy that even this is late.
What could be more helpful than pointing out everyone else's faults?
I consider this a public service.
1. Women of a certain age. Meaning, I'm certain you're still living so stop dressing like you're dead. Age appropriate and giving up are not the same things. Yes, I realize you can go too far (see my earlier post NYDJ). But, you won't die if you wear a high heel now and again.
No, it's not easy. It can be painful.
Who cares? Have some vanity for Christ's sake.
I don't want to hear it. I wear them on crutches.
I realize there's an argument to be made that perhaps I wouldn't be on crutches if I wasn't a life long stiletto wearer. I can live with that. At least I didn't go down without a fight.
Birkenstocks, elastic waist pants, pantyhose (they don't look good on Kate Middleton, they don't on you either), sweat pants if you're not sleeping...yoga pants if you're not...you get it. Back away from the sale table at Sears and get yourself a Vogue subscription.
Come on ladies! We've still got it and we've gotta show it.
2. The entire Medical profession. THINK before you speak. I'm an authority on this. Here's snippets of my recent conversations as proof.
Nursey: Do you prefer Kathleen or Kathy?
Nursey: Okay, great...Kathy...can you spell that?
Dr. Doogie Howser: The last time you had a bowel movement was it in shapes?
Me: You mean, like animals?
Nursey: Do you have a DNR?
Me: Ummm...I'm only 51. No.
Nursey: So, Kathy, if you go into cardiac arrest and your heart stops you want to be revived?
Me: I'm thinkin' YES.
Nursey: On a scale from 0-10, 0 being the least, where would you like your pain level to be?
Me: Is that a joke? Does anyone say, If you're all out of NO pain...I'll take excruciating? That would be ZERO.
Nursey: Sssssss....well...okay...hmmm...how about 5-10?
Doctor Doogie: Wow. Alot of these drugs don't work for you...
Me: Well, it is the 21st century, there's got to be a lot of choices, right?
Doogie: Any suggestions?
3. Annoying dog people. Keep your four legged friend to yourself. I'm allergic to dogs. But, I don't hate them. What I hate is those dog owners who assume you love their dogs as much as they do, so you won't mind at all if their furry beasts jump up on your cocktail dress, or wipe their snotty snouts on your pants.
I adore my grandkids. But I wouldn't let them sniff your crotch, wipe their chocolate covered hands on your jacket, or lick your suede shoes.
Please, show me the same courtesy.
4. Traffic controller drivers. Just drive. These are those folks who slam to a stop to "let you in" their lane or sit through their turn, two or three times, at four way stops to wave everyone else through.
I'm sure they mean well.
But, I often find myself in weird, Marcel Marceau type pantomime conversations with someone who can barely see me through their windshield. Using jerky hand motions and contorted facial expressions I struggle to let them know I don't want to turn into their lane. I want to go the other direction.
By the time they get the message they've stopped a line of cars two blocks long. Honking, name calling and middle finger salutes commence and I'm still there, trying to turn left.
Grrrr...if everyone just follows the rules of the road we'll all be fine. Really.
5. Hoity Toity Restaurants. Call a spade a spade. When did eating out get so complicated?
Pan seared? Really. Isn't that just...fried?
Charred bread? I can burn my own bread in my toaster at home.
Waiter: Our popcorn has an aura of grapefruit essence, rosemary mist, star anise dust and black sea salt.
Get out. Do we seriously need popcorn that takes a Walter White style laboratory to make?
Or this jewel...Slow baked organic Scottish salmon with Yuzo-koshu crust, baby green vegetables, glazed gnocchi, and smoked bonito flaked orange broth. Huh?
Of course it all arrives in a Leaning Tower of Pisa shaped cylinder on your plate which explodes as soon as you try to fork your way through it. It's about 3 ounces of food for $45.
And, why are my scallops covered in two kinds of sauce, one a heinous shade of green, on top of a now inedible soaked and soggy bed of lettuce? Couldn't I have had them...pan seared...or at the very least...charred?
Don't worry though, you can bring your own bottle of wine...they'll only charge you $25 to uncork it. And don't even try to bring your own opener. I've heard they're not amused.
Happy New Year. Get it together.
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