Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love is a Rebellious Frisbee

Carmen is not my favorite opera, it turns out.

Wallace, ID "Center O'Universe"
I didn't realize that I liked opera until recently.  We were out to dinner with another family and the dad and I got blabbing about opera.  He is a thick-spectacled man with an opera vocabulary to match.  He used some technical term and I said, "I don't know what that means.  I'm not really an opera expert. It's not really my thing."  And my friend says, "Yeah, it's not really your thing, Sarajoy.  You two have just been holding forth for half an hour on opera.  You even have favorites, which is more than I can say, even though I've been dragged to more operas than I can count."

I stand by what I said: I am not an opera expert.  But her words got me thinking: I kind of do like opera.  I've been going since I was 15 and my mom got me tickets to see The Magic Flute, and I took my boyfriend and although I've seen many since, that's still my favorite opera, so much so that I bought the CD for my kids. And yet I HATE musicals and sound tracks to musicals and operas.  A long time ago, heading out on a little road trip, my friend asked what kind of music I like: "Good," I stupidly opined.  So she grabs some CDs and the ENTIRE road trip we were listening to Rent, while she narrated the plot. It was pure hell.  Now I always specify: no Christian rock or musical/opera sound tracks.  Everything else can at least get past the gag reflex.

So for our anniversary, I suggested Huck and I go to an opera.  Huck: "Pppffft, opera? I don't think so."
Wallace, ID
Oh, that's right.  Since we've been together I have attended operas.  Alone. We don't have to be the same person.  Although some overlap in interests would help sometimes.  And far be it for him to spend an evening humoring me, and certainly not on our anniversary.

I wasn't done, though.  If I've learned anything from my kids, it's that persistent begging can pay off, or at worst, dock you the evening's dessert.  It was a gamble I was willing to take.  Tactic #1) disparage and humiliate for being different.

"I can't believe you're a musician and you don't want to see Carmen.  That surprises me.  Can you grow as a musician without exposing yourself to new sources?"  Actually, that's what I was planning to say, in a very unusual instance of me 1) planning what I was going to say before I said it and 2) manipulatively and 3) to get my own way.  But he interrupted me at "Carmen."

"Carmen!!!  Carmen!! Why didn't you say so!"  And with that he whipped out his laptop and bought us tickets.

On Saturday we trotted the kids off to the birthday party and the over-nighter (thanks J and T!! A well-baby-sittered friend (who felt sorry for our baby-sitter-less existence) and I planned this over-nighter a while ago and I told Huck who said, "September 22?  Do you know what day that is?"  Um...no... let's see... birthdays? Band Gig? oh wait... maybe... it's our anniversary?")

Well, we didn't trot to their house so much as differently gait.  I, striding forward in a timely manner and Huck carefully swinging forward on his crutches because Thursday night he leapt to catch a Frisbee ("that Coyote was throwing" the bonus phrase Huck never omits because it gives him dad brownie points and basically points out that "(grunt) yes (grunt) I was injured in the act of being an awesome father".  And who's going to begrudge the crippled man his glory?) and tore his calf muscle.  And I seem to think it's important that it was the calf muscle on the leg that is reconstructed.  And Huck does not seem to think that is important because the tear is no where near the titanium knee. But that knee does wear on his body, does it not?  And why not get extra brownie points for being a mixed martial arts moron in New Orleans when you were 18?  But I digress, the point is we spent most of Friday in the ER, listening to "Wait! Wait! Don't tell me!" podcasts.  And we got expert care and no surgery is needed, just crutches and ice and they offered pain killers, but Huck refused because he's an awesome father.

The Family that Mines together, stays together
This crutching has brought up some issues, such as his refusal to allow me to help.
"Do you WANT to eat that burrito standing up in the kitchen?"
"Well, what else am I going to do? I can't exactly use crutches and hold a plate."
"Um, I could carry the plate.  I'm standing right here.  My hands are empty."
"I want to eat here. Grrrr."

And later:
"If I was hurt and hobbling around and you kept asking to help and I kept refusing, how would you feel?"
"Surprised. It's you we're talking about, you know?"

Take 2:
"Why are you not asking for help, even though you clearly need it?"
"I don't want you to resent me."
'Cuz that's me, the resentful grudge hoarder: "Well, it's backfiring, honey."

Just so you know, we both found these exchanges to be hilarious.  Let these repartee's be like a badge of honor: we have arrived, people. We are a bickering old couple.

Dinner was incredible, at 315 Martinis and Tapas in Coeur d'Alene where the entire staff was gay.  I don't want to let out some secret or endanger any North Idaho lives, but my gaydar was screaming. Idaho has never even considered any legislation to limit discrimination of gays in housing or employment because they are so very very weary of creating 'special' groups to protect from discrimination so it's always surprising to see gays braving the neo-nazi discrimination-riddle waters of Idaho, especially when civil-union-Washington is just miles away.

And then we were off to Carmen. Actually "Carmen."  It was partial Carmen.  It was North Idaho, not New York, "Carmen."  No set.  Voice-over summaries instead of some songs.   I almost cried when the curtains initially parted and I saw on stage, not fake-Basque representations, but the orchestra and a choir on risers.  But soon, the main characters came forth and danced and libretto-ed around a few pieces of furniture. Once I accepted the situation as it was, not as I wanted it to be, I was able to find myself enjoying the singing of the classic songs.  It was hard to believe, three hours in to it, that anything was cut as I dozed off in the last act, opening my eyes just as Carmen is killed, and rightfully so.  No, that would be uncharitably unfeminist of me to think she deserved it. But I have never seen a heroine so unlikable.  In fact, I didn't like Any of the characters.  Carmen is the most moron-rich drama I've seen since experimenting with the dumb-ass nerve-grating show Weeds.  The entire cast of characters should should ... should... I don't know. I am at a loss for words. Which means that Huck loved it, of course.

Of course, what I love about any experience is the moron-factor and the human drama, but apparently I need it to be real instead of staged.  The women behind me: "Is that the director of such-n-such?"  "I sure hope so, because it looks like she finally updated her hair."  And the woman in front of us turned around during a half-time and said, "Crutches, eh? I'll be on those in two weeks. I'm having a hip replaced."  And also: her husband had two shoulder's replaced, her aunt had a knee replaced, her cousin - a hip also, and she'd already had a head replacement, all in great detail. Huck interjected, "I have a coworker with a hip replacement.  She gets whatever oil or goop is in chicken wattles injected as a lubricant into her hip every few months."
And Mrs. Personal-Medical-History-of-her-Entire-Extended-Family says, "THAT is TMI, sir. TMI, you understand? Too Much Information."  And she whirled around, plopped down, and fumed in her seat.
Too bad we didn't get chatting with the man next to Huck sooner, a veteran Carmen performer who did not standingly ovate at the end. Surprisingly, he didn't sing along either.

And then the next thing we knew, the house lights were up.  And I awoke wondering how all the old people around us pull off these late nights.  We slowly made our way out, careful to not tip over the women teetering on absurd vericose-vein-causing uber-heels, clutching their men like they were crutches.  We stepped into the warm night, in to another year with our mis-matched paces and preferences and hobbies.  It was the best anniversary two people with nothing in common (except a marriage ...and kids, and a thing for sensible footwear... and also there's the "values" thinga-ma-bob too) could have had.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Art of Picking Up ... cat food

Gorgeous! c. 1985
I'm buying cat food.

And this guy asks me, "So, do you have cats?"

"Yes,"  I decide to humor him.  I'm grocery shopping and what I want to say is, "Why the f*** are you talking to me?"  But then I think, in theory, I really like a conversational, personal society where we interact like humans should, even flirt a little, from time to time, if called upon to do so.  
"I have 152 cats."

He stares then says, "No you don't."

I laugh, "You're right.  I actually don't have cats at all, but I have this really great coupon for cat food."

And he stares at me. 

And so I say, "Well, now that I look at the coupon, it's not that great.  It's a cheap coupon, one of those, 'spend $100, get 50cents off' deals.  Makes me feel cheap, you know?"

And he stares.  So I say, "I have two. Cats."

And this fits his expectations and he asks, "What kinds?"
 "Kinds that don't get along." 

Sena and Lewis Stremler c. 1950 BC
I was being silly and I thought I was being funny.  And although it probably wasn't something you'd buy tickets to at a comedy club, they were passable jokes. Right? But this man reacted like a squirrel in Prius head-lights. And I wanted to take him by the hand, sit him down, and warn him about the facts of life:
1) when you strike up a conversation with a random woman at the grocery store, you kind of need to be ready for anything.
2)  If you are trying to hit on me, or some such non-sense, you should be so nervous that whatever comes out of my mouth with a lilt, should have you exploding with nervous laughter.  The quickest way into a gal's pants is to laugh at her jokes, even nervously. This is why Huck and I are still together, because he laughs so hard he cries at the drop of one of my mid-quality one-liners.  Listen, random dude, I am talking to you out of the sweetness of my open soul to humor you and you are such an A**hat, you really can't humor me in return?
3) This might have worked out if I'd been a "dog"-woman, but I'm a "cat" woman; we don't do as we're told, we don't fulfill expectations, and we don't dumb it down.

And lesson #4) Don't try to pick me up. 
A) I don't like it. I am grocery shopping, not sitting on a bar stool looking forlorn and bored. I am usually wearing barn pants, crap-covered barn shoes, and frequently, a baseball cap pulled low over my eyes so I don't have to look you guys in the eyes. This outfit is not a subtle cue that I am desperate, it is a clear indication that I don't care what you think.  
B) It's pointless, unless it's funny. I am mostly happily married, although realistically some days I am annoyedly married and some days I might even be boredly married, but it's mostly happy. I'm not jumping ship for some unlabeled can-o-man I found at the corner store.
C) It confuses me.  I can't figure out what is going on half the time. For one, I don't perceive myself as being all that pretty.  I still have the ugly little kid I grew up as inside, so I'm always surprised and suspicious when hit on.  Huck has me because he had the clarity and boldness I needed to hear.  And also, he threatened to beat up a guy horning in on us on the dance floor.  (I know!  I know! screaming red warning lights of a jealous, violent type! But he clearly wasn't and the thing is, I'd never had a date willing to risk personal safety in order to keep hanging out with me, and in this very primitive way I found it irresistibly attractive.  That is how I knew he really meant it.)

Freda and Ed Roosma Dec 6, 1946
Of the many examples of my confusion in the face of overtures, a few stand out as striking: The mixed U2 love songs tape: "Thanks!  I love U2!  How thoughtful!"  I don't want to sound arrogant, but I've since concluded that the boy probably liked me. 
A gazebo in the middle of the lake, which was, Surprise!  set with all my favorite foods when we arrived.  What a kind friend! 
"Have you seen the new Batman movie?"
"Are you going to see it?"
"I don't know."
My coworker asked later, "Has he asked you out yet?"
"No, but he was asking about that Batman movie a lot." Turns out she'd done some very bad coaching with him on how to ask me out.
Lets fix that right now.
How to Ask a Girl Out 101: "Would you like to see the new Batman movie with me this weekend?"  But honestly, I probably still wouldn't get it.

In Mexico, they were really clear and really not serious about any of it.  As I would walk to work along the boardwalk, the line of taxi drivers would say things like, "Nice Mango!"  because I'd usually be eating a mango on my way to work, and at first I might say something like, "Thanks! I got it at the market on 5th," but as I gained experience I might say, "Thanks! I got it at the market on 5th" AND wink. Mexico taught me to enjoy a little fun enhanced by the fact that it obviously wasn't going anywhere.

But when someone whistled, it would annoy the hell out of me because I'd be waltzing along, fully engrossed in my own mind, and someone would jolt me out of it with this shrillness, and suddenly I would be plunged in to self-consciousness: what am I wearing? why are they whistling? Am I in danger? Suck in your gut, girl, all the world's a stage!  And I resented it.  I am not here to entertain, or please or amuse. I am just being alive for the glorious sake of being alive. It doesn't really have anything to do with you guys and my sense of purpose and meaning is in no way buttressed by the fact that you have seen yet another female (me) who's mango you like.

Men are not all that picky.  Their appreciative glances are about has hard to earn and highly prized as french fries, not the gold medals they seem to think they are bestowing.  Having seen Pretty Woman at an impressionable age, I thought that if a man thought you were hot, that meant you were as gorgeous as Julia Roberts.  But then, I saw a real working woman and although she was a full fledged human with a beautiful soul somewhere inside, she was no Julia Roberts.  And then I realized how picky men aren't.  Huck being attracted to me did not impress, but Huck willing to risk something to be with me, now that was something worth looking in to.

Huck and I marrying ourselves Sept 22, 2001

I consulted with an astute friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) who noted that the random grocery guy was  "looking to for some pussy!"  Cat food, indeed.  But she also noticed that it is difficult for guys to hit that happy medium between being clear about their interest and being a lecherous ass.  The thing is, though, that much of it is in the eye of the girl.  If she likes you, stalking is romantic.  If she doesn't, you could get sued.  Arrested?  Maybe, it depends on how seriously your local police take your safety and how the local prosecutor interprets the laws.  (Said unmentionable friend also noted, as we puzzled over the rioting of Muslims, "What do you expect of a religion that promises every man 72 virgins in heaven.  Not 72 women who know what they're doing, but 72 inexperienced virgins." It's clearly not about pleasure, but ownership. And where do these virgins come from?  Is this their hell?) 

Puzzling it out with Huck later, after the first cat joke (which Huck rightly and wisely found side-splitting hilarious), Huck says, "Oh shit, you are so out of that guy's league, baby!"  And that, good citizens of the world, is why I don't need to be hit on.  It will be 11 legal years on Saturday.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Summer summary: Doctor Silverwood floats cute condoms

Those rascally, meddling kids are back to school now after the best summer ever.  Meanwhile, I've turned aimless and pointless, waiting for my new balance to arrive.  While my brain re-organizes itself around this new reality, lets review some of what you missed.

Blue went on this twice!
* Silverwood.  I usually cringe at the massive, frivolous, unnecessary use of resources represented by theme parks, however, I found myself marveling this year at all the sensations we humans like to experiment with: rushing, spinning, upside down, that sensation you get when you're driving out in the country and the road suddenly dips. 

*Dr. Who.  So the kids bought a Wii with their own money saved up from Christmases and Birthdays. So on Coyote's birthday, for a surprise, I finally agreed to their plan (it wasn't his gift, just a bonus activity). Surprise! Mom gets to say YES! And Coyote goes all quiet, tears in his eyes.
 "What's wrong, Coyote?  Don't you want a Wii?  You've been begging for one for two years straight."
*SIGH* "I really wanted an X-box."
oh, the up-sell.  

 Why are we now opening the doors of our family's brains to this schlock?  Because this is their generation, not ours.  This is the society they are growing up in. I feel entitled to control the inflow of technology, to teach limits.  But I no longer feel entitled to deny it completely.
After watching Coyote's classmates all know the words to Wii dance songs sung at his "End of Second Grade" talent show, except Coyote.
After seeing Coyote's obsession with gaming and electronics.
And seeing that the future most likely is computer based, and most jobs in it will involve extensive familiarity with computers. And knowing people who have made a very very fine living through gaming, Google, etc.
After allowing gaming on Kongregate, Cool Math, Manga High, etc via internet...the big, scary, totally child-inappropriate internet. (We have been teaching internet safety, but then Coyote has these questions and you think, "MY GOD! NO, SON, NOOO! You can't really win things in pop-up windows!"  And you think, "Why are you asking me my email address?"  And you have to repeat, "No, you can't surf Youtube without my supervision."
After I'd observed the cool, co-operative, active gaming of Wii's.
It seemed it was time.  Their world is not going to be my world.  I can't control the sweep of fate, of history, of culture.  But I can teach limits, and to do that, we need to wade in at least ankle deep.
Unfortunately, the Wii also allows Netflix streaming, and years and years of Dr. Who.  And I am totally addicted and unfit to teach limits on technology.

San Diego Boogie Boardes
* Little Spokane rafting.  On the final float of the summer last week, with my sister and my kids, we were stalked for an hour by a very curious Great Blue Heron.  And we met a moose sunning himself on the bank just a few feet from our rafts.

*Cute Babies.  During our annual "summer's cleanse", I discovered a small journal documenting the cute little phrases, performances and deeds of our once-upon-a-time wee ones.  I am a little jealous about people who have tiny tots and Facebook.  My kids don't say cutesy little things anymore.  And I never got the chance to tell the world about their adorable pitter-pattering  brains spewing hilarity.  But, here, I'm going to try it out now.  Here are some cute mid-kid brainisms from last night:
Coyote: "OLD FASHIONED VANILLA? YESSSS! I hate new fashioned vanilla."
Blue: working on her parody of "I'm sexy and I know it," Also referred to as "I'm a parody and I know it."
Here's hers: "I'm Velma and I know it."
"Jinks! Look at that monster! (repeat until done)
Uh-huh - I'm freaked out (repeat until done)
I walk into a cave and what do I see?
A scary monster staring back at me!
I've got brains behind my glasses
And I'm not afraid to show it, show it, show it.
I'm Velma and I know it."

The Cataldo Mission
*Condoms.  At Mission Beach one night we overheard a group of younger guys walking by, "Yeah,  He said the party last night was so wild, he used an entire box of condoms!"  My, my! So many things may contribute to using an entire box of condoms in one night that do NOT mean the party was wild.  Did he have trouble putting them on?  Were they all old?  A box of 3 or a box of 36?
But then I realized: Holy Moley!  He's bragging about condom use!  YES! YES!  You use that whole box, boy!  You use all of them at once, or in succession.  A small box. A big box.  A blue box.  And gold box.  Whatev's!  The boy is using condoms. Condoms are now proof of how wild the party was!  Condoms made it! GOOO condoms!


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