Tag Archive | family

Oh, to be Auntie Mame

I love my cable provider.  I know not too many people say that…and while I hate paying for it (who doesn’t, right?), I like the channel line-up I’ve got going.  I can always count on Turner Classic Movies to replay my favorites.  My absolute favorite of all time is Auntie Mame. The one with Rosalind Russell from 1958.  It’s the only one as far as I’m concerned.  Rosalind Russell nailed it.  (As a side-note, Rosalind Russell also starred in the original Broadway play.)

auntie mame title

Auntie Mame is definitely a classic, at least in my eyes, and it’s always going to rank as #1 on my personal list. If you haven’t seen it, you really should.  It’s done in the style of a play….with gorgeous costumes and in your face characters and each scene fading out to black on a dramatic note.  There’s an excellent cast of actors with each one perfectly portraying their character.  Please tell me if you hate Babcock as much as I do or if you cringe each time you hear Gloria speak!  Trust me, if you want some good clean fun and laughs, it’s definitely worth your while to watch this movie.

One primary reason I love this movie so much is because the titular character is the type of woman who I’d love to see more of (or hell, even be), yet when I watch today’s movies these strong, yet eccentric, female characters simply don’t exist. Auntie Mame is a shining example of how to be outspoken, caring, loyal to friends, accepting of different lifestyles (and how!), independent, and strong; all qualities I think that are imperative for today’s young girls to know.

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If you’re not familiar with the movie here’s a brief synopsis that will hopefully show why Auntie Mame is a laudable silver screen icon. Right from the start she’s friends with a rogue’s gallery of characters. Elitists of the time would have called them “beatniks” or “bohemians.” Nowadays perhaps they’d be called “hipsters” or referred to as some sort other alternative and eclectic subset of the caste system. Auntie Mame just calls them friends. And they take care of each other. While she does eventually fall in love with Beauregard Burnside (deliciously played by Forrest Tucker), she never loses her vibrant sense of self in the process. That tends to happen a lot in movies. The girl needs “saving” and suddenly a knight in shining armor appears, swoops in to do the saving, and the girl dutifully surrenders her life to better serve his. Bullshit.

Auntie Mame retains her uniqueness and shows that it is possible to let someone else into your life without transforming into something else entirely. At first, she does try really hard to fit in with Beauregard’s family, even trying to learn how to ride in a hunt although she’s never been on a horse in her life.  However, she fails miserably and then she realizes that it’s just not worth it….it’s not who she is.  As it turns out, Beauregard is a one of a kind guy who loves her independence and quirkiness. I think her failing like that can even be viewed as a “moral to the story” kind of statement – in other words, this is what happens when you try to be something you’re not.  You fail.

mame and beau

What’s interesting too is that, as unlikely as it may seem, Mame, in all of her madcap glory, is the freaky glue that binds her friends into a solid familial hodgepodge.  She’s magnificently sophisticated and glamorous, yet she insists on being kind and taking in the odd stray friend here and there, and she does her absolute best to spread good wherever and whenever she can.  As crazy as it sounds, she’s definitely a character worth emulating.

The best bit….and I guess I should’ve started with this – because this is how the movie started – Mame’s nephew Patrick (who eventually wrote the book this movie was based on) lost his parents when he was a small child at which time he was summarily dropped kit and caboodle at Mame’s Manhattan party shack….umm….I mean brownstone.  Well.  It was love at first sight.  And a completely non-maternal, cocktail swigging bohemian suddenly became a mother….a good one.  Albeit still bohemian.  But more than being just a financial support or providing the basics, she imparts on Patrick the heart-felt lessons of how to remain open-minded, to be kind, to truly love life, enjoy experiences, and be tolerant of all types of people.  She instills in him a sense of wonder and a sense of joy, encouraging him to make the most of life, and to embrace everything life may throw at you.

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I could really get used to seeing more women like this lifted up as an example to our impressionable teens and tweens out there. I’m looking at you Hollywood. Where did all the Auntie Mames go?

Auntie Mame

Overheard Conversations

I’ve never claimed to be normal. Anyone who says I have is just a liar. And I’ve never claimed to have a normal household.

My daughter and I have quite a few interesting conversations…even fascinating ones…often at quite a loud decibel level since we’re a loud house regardless of what we’re doing.

Sometimes, I wonder just what the neighbors must think when my windows are wide open and our voices carry over to their houses on the clear, still air.

For example, we have a dog, and we have quite a few adventures with this dog, Petra. If our one neighbor’s windows were open, they surely heard this conversation one evening because it was really sort of loud and fraught with hilarious exasperation on Sarah’s part—and I’m sure it threw them for a loop:

“Stop putting the dog on my face, I’m trying to sleep!  You’re supposed to be the adult here, you know!”

You see, in reality, it’s not always just children who try to be annoying. There. I admit it. But it did eventually make Sarah laugh, and that was the main point of it all.

“What have I told you about letting the dog sleep in my pillow? “
“But she likes to sleep in pillowcases, you know that.”
“Then let her sleep in yours.”
“Ewww, no, I don’t want her in my pillow.”

That’s what daughters are for, don’t you think, to let a burrowing dog sleep in her pillowcase so said dog won’t sleep in yours? But apparently not my daughter. Oh no, not mine. She cares enough about the dog to want her to have a pillowcase to burrow in, just not her pillowcase. Go figure.

My daughter is very analytical, yet strangely compassionate, even when it comes to finding ways to fall asleep.

“I can’t count sheep to go sleep – cause then I wonder where the sheep are.  Are they just living with some farmer, in which case he’s going to need money eventually and then he’s going to have to sell those sheep to slaughter, which is messed up.

Or do those sheep live in some existential plane and just in emptiness in which case that’s just depressing. Too depressing to go to sleep.  I mean really, where are the poor sheep!?  They’re jumping over a fence, is the fence the bridge between life and death? Are the sheep dying!?  If I count them, do they die?? That’s a lot of power for one person to have.

Or is counting sheep just symbolic of the wasted years of our lives, the years we waste going to sleep? Are they really just counting the seconds passing to our inevitable death, our inevitable demise. Talk about depressing, that’s even more depressing than thinking about sheep being slaughtered. Although maybe not. Sheep getting slaughtered is pretty darn depressing.”

My well thought out and heartfelt response to these types of existential questions:

 “Sarah, just shut the hell up and go to sleep.”

We had this following conversation a couple of days before school ended last week. Admittedly I was frustrated with the topic, so I was a bit loud when this nonsensical sentence came flying out my mouth.  Even at the time a part of me was wondering what the neighbors would think if they heard this:

“If you don’t want to throw eggs, then don’t throw eggs.  I don’t care what the teacher says.”

I’ll explain further – Sarah’s Honors Chemistry teacher, at a time when eggs are at their most expensive in our area, decided that the students should each bring in a dozen eggs to simply fling at each other during class.

Sometimes my daughter brings up things that I simply don’t understand. These encounters always leave me shaking my head and questioning my sanity.

“I know you don’t like onions. No, there are no onions in the tuna fish salad. You just watched me make it. Did you see me put onions in the tuna fish salad? I rest my case then.”

Or:

No, I don’t usually go around spitting into random bottles of water that I find lying about the house (in response to: “is there anything wrong with this water?”)

And then there’s the case of….the socks. Some people have sock monsters who make off with their socks, or dryers that eat them  I, on the other hand, have Sarah:

“In the name of everything that is holy, why is there just one sock strewn about in every single room of the house?”
“My feet get hot so I take my socks off.”
“But…but…where are the other socks?”
“I don’t know.”

It’s a myth that only guys argue about the powers of superheroes and what they can and cannot do.

Sarah and I recently had this debate in a game of “would you rather:”

 ‘If you had to pick, would you rather freeze people or blow them up a la Piper Halliwell?’
“If you can freeze people, you can walk into banks undetected.  But if you can blow people up, it wouldn’t matter, you could do what you wanted.”
“She could do both, why can’t I do both, why do I have to choose!? Why do you always have to make everything so difficult!? I don’t see why I can’t just do both. Jeez.”

I’ll leave it up to ya’ll as to which one was the adult and which one was the child in that conversation.

And then there’s my daughter’s refreshing attitude toward the afterlife.  I think we’re going to be haunting people…because I mean hey, haunting people would be fun, right?

“I can’t wait until we’re dead and we’re haunting places together and I have all of eternity to tell you ‘I told you so,’ because we’re not just dirt in the ground somewhere and I’m gonna be like ‘Hey look, we’re scaring the bejeebies out of these people because I was right and you were wrong, we’re not just dirt’ and ‘Oooo look, we’re floating through walls cause I was right and you were wrong…told you so, nah nah …’ You’ll have to hang out with me for like eons. See what you have to look forward to?”

 “Nope. Cause I’m gonna be dirt.”

When you have cats in the house, you can’t help but think of the important questions. I can only imagine what someone, someone sane that is, would think of this issue recently discussed round our dinner table:

“Do you think cats know what Capitalism is?”
“I bet they’re Socialists.”

There you have it. A brief look into our mindset and the little snippets of accompanying dialogue. Now don’t you wish you were a fly on our wall to catch some of the really good stuff? Although you’re likely to buzz off shaking your little fly head.

 

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Dear Dad

I want to say Happy Father’s Day to my Dad. I love my Dad and he loves me. We don’t always say it. In fact we hardly say it at all. But it’s there nonetheless. It’s one of the few things in life I’m sure of without need of validation. He has always given me a safe place to land in times of need, not to mention money for gas and the bridge, for which I’m grateful. Thanks Dad.

 

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Wedded Bliss Redux

This is a repost (a revisit more like) from last year around this time and I was late then as I’m late now. I will once again apologize to my parents because it seems like every year I equate their anniversary with Father’s Day. So this year, I was expecting it to be this coming weekend and it’s not.  It was yesterday.  So I missed it. Again. I don’t know why I can’t keep the two days straight and separate. Every year since the dawn of time I’m reminded (after the fact) that I’m indeed wrong — it may fall on Father’s Day once in a blue moon, but not always.  And I don’t think being the favorite child is going to get me out of continually forgetting this fact (considering just how long it has been now).  But I will beg for mercy and just remind my folks once again that out of all their children (all 2 of us), I am their most beautiful, favorite, loving, smartest, (and above all) modest, and least high maintenance, least annoying child…and that should count for something, right?  Right!?

And oh yeah, I love you guys — more than anything.

 

Here’s to Wedded Bliss:

It’s unfortunate that this is a not-very-odd conversation these days:

Friend 1: Did you hear? Sue and Jeff are getting divorced?

Friend 2: Wow, how long have they been married?

Friend 1: Five years!

Friend 2: Well, at least they gave it all they had.

Yes, friends, sadly people these days hold on to cars and computers longer than they do marriage licenses. In the days when so-called role models treat “commitment” with less respect than a pinky swear (Britney Spears’ marriage, 55 hours. Kim Kardashian’s second marriage, 72 days) what couple can be expected to last long enough to see if the seven-year itch actually exists?

My parents, that’s who. Yesterday (which was not Father’s Day) was my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary.  That’s right.  55 years.  If you’ve never read the “The Lockhorns” comic strip before, do yourself a huge favor and Google it (or click on the picture below). You’ll quickly get the premise:  an old married couple that does nothing but complain about each other, but in their insults is a special kind of love (you have to look deep, but it’s there, I swear). My parents, they’re my live action version of The Lockhorns; the sort of couple that practices the Old School style of marriage. The kind where they may bicker and nag and nit-pick and groan through each and every day, but when one of them holds out their hand, the other is still there to grab it. They’re like those cute salt and pepper shaker sets that fit together. My Dad makes my Mom’s daily coffee.  My Mom makes my Dad’s fishing trip lunches. They just go together. Not to mention they’ve developed a sort of non-verbal, thought-reading kind of communication that is amazing to witness.

Over half a century with one person is definitely something to admire but it’s made even more so given the throwaway society we seem to live in. Whatever their secret, be it love or simply tolerance or a smooth balance of both, my parents are an inspiration. Happy 55th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

 

Happy 55th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Happy 55th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Happy Sweet 16 (Or, The Perils of Dating My Daughter)

Most parents probably believe, as they should, that their child is one of the most interesting people they’ve ever had the pleasure of bringing into the world. It’s a small pat on our back that we contributed to the betterment of society just as much as it’s blatant bragging.

Following this logic, I’m happy to state that my daughter Sarah is a great source of pride. She has a lot of the basic checklist requirements already ticked up:  an avid reader, a fiend for knowledge, an open mind, and an incredibly kind heart. These traits she has in spades (there’s the blatant bragging bit), but that’s not the most interesting bit about her.  It’s the eccentricities that truly deserve some attention because they flat-out make her a kick ass chick.

Sarah baby

Sarah is not so little any more.  I kept telling her she could’ve been done any time and actually should’ve stopped growing around the time the above photo was taken.  But did she listen?  No.

In fact, she’s celebrating her Sweet Sixteen today, and already has a strength of character that makes my maternal side beam with pride.   No silly boys are going to pull the wool over her eyes.  In fact, I almost pity the unwitting hounds that may try to manipulate her rather than learn what she’s really all about.  She simply has no patience for stupidity and she’ll never simply “settle” for someone who’s only just good enough.  Of course this will automatically eliminate a lot of potential suitors before they even know it.  I can’t say I’m not pleased about that.

Consider the following as an example of her very low threshold of tolerance for the boys in her circle.  In elementary school she had a friend named Michael.  Michael really liked her….it was one serious crush.  A crush that I’m afraid was nipped in the bud early.  One day after a band concert, he says to her, “I’m going to come over to your place so we can hang out.”  To most observers, it may have seemed like a friendly suggestion….but to Sarah it was the height of rudeness since it was said as if it were a given that this date was going to happen…no hint whatsoever of a question mark in his comment. Wrong way to go about it Michael.  So my daughter replied accordingly: “Don’t bother. I won’t be home.” To which the ever expectant Michael responded, “I didn’t even tell you what day I would be by.” She countered, “You can come over anytime you want. It doesn’t matter. I won’t be home.”  Without a way to parry that blow Michael was thus dismissed.

While people are constantly warning me about boys and dating and how concerning and stressful it can be for parents of teenage girls…I just smile to myself.  I worry more about the boys who might try to win my daughter’s attention….they will have a rough road to go.  Which is as it should be, because she’s deserving of nothing less than excellence.  And I’m absolutely thrilled she realizes that.  For some women it takes a lifetime to figure that out, and some never do.

But I will reach out to offer a little advice to the would-be future suitors…to sort of even the playing field a bit. Should a potential candidate for my daughter’s hand want to have even a chance in hell of keeping her attention, he should consult the following list of things he’ll need to sincerely like:

  • Doctor Who references
  • Marvel Comics (especially Deadpool and Loki, and we’re not just talking movies here, the actual comics)
  • Rooster Teeth (because they’re hilarious)
  • Michael Myers (yes, the serial killer…not the comedian)
  • Norse mythology (Loki, nothing more needs to be said)
  • Greek mythology (Dionysus – yep, ritual madness)
  • Creative writing (of all kinds)
  • Lewis Black (great minds think alike after all)
  • Compassion for animals (lack of this is a deal breaker, boys)
  • History (Alexander Hamilton and Achilles are her current favorite topics)
  • John Green (the person, not just his books)

Conversely, here is a list of things he’ll need to hate (with a passion I might add):

  • Hunting (oh boy, don’t even get her started on this one)
  • Camo (or this one)
  • Annoying people (not the action but the noun)
  • Unruly children (don’t ask)
  • Intolerance (of any kind)
  • The Westboro Baptist Church (yeah,  probably better to not even bring this one up at all)
  • Waiting in line (obvious)
  • Mornings (equally obvious)

OK, boys, there’s the cheat sheet. Now I only have one question — are you man enough?

My Son (or Paul Bunyan Redux)

A carnival gypsy once told me that the love of my life would be tall, dark and handsome.  Somehow she failed to mention he would arrive on the waves of excruciating labor pains.  Now, 23 years later to the day, my son can legally buy alcohol, towers over me, and resembles Paul Bunyan.    He’s out on his own and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Still, whenever we talk, I oftentimes offer unsolicited advice.  No, really, I do.   Other mothers do this too, right?  Right??  Well of course Jake’s response is usually one borne of frustration because, according to him, I’ve not kept up with his birthdays all these years and therefore don’t know just how old he is.  My response is one he will never understand until he has kids of his own – he’s always my baby regardless of how old he may be.  Or how tall.  Or how thick a beard he decides to grow (I mean really, you do own a razor after all Jake!).

And many times during these mutually frustrating conversations, a mental picture of him will pop into my head.  Like when he and I went outside to play in the yard like maniacs during a freak midnight snowstorm when he was 4.  Or when he was a very convincing snowman in a school play at the age of 5.  Or as a 6 year old on a trip to Luray Caverns….which is actually a pretty cute story and one that I go to often in my mental rolodex of memories because it never ceases to make me smile.

We used to make the trek to Luray Caverns every year, sort of a family tradition.  These trips were always a great time.  For those not familiar with the area, near Luray is another set of caverns touted as “The Endless Caverns.”  To me, that sounds sort of horrible. The idea that you could possibly get lost and never find your way out of the dark, stone tunnels, eventually succumbing to starvation with your body going undiscovered for maybe centuries didn’t fill me with a great amount of intrigue.  Sort of like an “always erupting volcano” or “constantly snowing tundra.”  Okay fine, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic….but hey, it could happen.

Well, on this particular trip when we passed one of the billboards emblazoned with “Endless Caverns” Jake asked just what “endless” meant.  Remember, he’s only 6 at the time so he was still trying to figure out the intricacies of the English language which can be tough on anyone.  Being the vocabulary nut I am, I was thrilled to explain to him “Well, Jake, endless means that something doesn’t have an end…. never-ending.”

This is where I have to take a small sidebar and let you know that my husband’s running compliment for me at that time was “hot.”  It could also be interpreted as a running joke.  And having the goofy mentality that my husband did he was always coming up with a “you’re so hot…” comment.   As in “You’re so hot you make lava look cool.”  I know, I know….but what can you do?  I married him anyway.  Not sure what that says about me, all things considering.

So, back to the story….as the meaning of “endless” registered with Jake, he perked up and said, “Oh, so it’s like you. You’re hotless.  Never-ending hot.”   Why yes, Jake.  That’s exactly what it means.

To this day I hold that small, innocent remark in my heart as one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.  Not because it’s true and certainly not because Jake fully understood “hot” as it related to women,  but because it came straight from his beautiful, ever loving six year old heart as meaning something special.  Jake will never understand that when I look at him, I still see that wide-eyed, precocious boy who stole my heart the day he was born.   I don’t think that will ever change.  And quite frankly, I hope it never does.

Although seriously…. a razor wouldn’t hurt now and then.

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jake and shaylee

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