Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Confession: I like Jerry Lewis

Here's a confession.
I like Jerry Lewis.
I know that's not cool or hip to admit. I can live with that. Maybe I'm more French than I thought my small percentage of French-Canadian blood made me. I'll have to live with that, too.
Sure, he's brash. And loud. And sophomoric. Hell, he may even be less than sophomoric. Freshmanic?
But I don't care. I grew up watching the MD telethon every Labor Day weekend. The whole family watched.
And I don't that some people say he exploited those sick kids, using them to pull at America's heartstrings to get more money. Pull my heartstrings. I want to feel that -- I want to feel something -- anything. Too many of us have steeled ourselves against feeling pity, sorrow, sympathy. We don't want to be moved to tears and then moved to give.
Such is our loss.
Jerry Lewis is not the young clown any longer. He's not the middle-aged lounge act, with untied bow tie, tux, cigarette in one hand and drink in the other. He's not the old entertainer with bifocals and hair dye who can still hoof it if he has to.
He is sick. You could see it at the Oscars when he accepted his humanitarian award for his work with MD. He fought to walk to the podium. He fought to give his short, insanity-free acceptance speech. A heartfelt thanks and then he was gone.
Why did it take them so long to give him this award? He's been doing these telethons for at least 4 decades, if not longer. Because he wasn't the epitome of Hollywood cool? Probably. Too many sneered down their "I make art" noses at him because he made entertainment.
I hope, at least just once more, I will get to watch him act the fool on a Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Boss

We watched the Super Bowl half-time show -- everybody singing out loud along with Born to Run, Glory Days, etc. My children -- 16 and 9 years old -- are fluent in Boss, along with many other singers their friends may not know. My husband and I feel it important to pass along an appreciation for the classics: Bon Jovi, Journey, that band whose drummer only has one arm.

A commercial that featured the old Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell song Ain't No Mountain High Enough gave me an opportunity to give my 9 year old another lesson in some of my favorite music -- old Motown. "What is that song, Mom" he asked me. "I like it."

So I sang more of it for him -- more than had been used on the commercial. Because I know it. That is my curse -- a memory for lyrics. I can sing a lot of old pop songs.

some of it stuck. Later I heard him singing at the computer: "Ain't no mountain wide enough, ain't no river wide enough, ain't no valley wide enough..." Not exactly correct, but he sang it with feeling so that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama the Great

According to NPR (that's National Public Rado) some in the homeland of Barack Obama's father, Kenya, are already calling him Obama the Great. Well, I don't know if we can say that yet, but I am full of hope.

I'm not used to this feeling. Watching all the inauguration pomp and circumstance today, more than once I found myself verklepmt. Remember Mike Myers as Linda Richman in Coffee Talk on Saturday Night Life? He portrayed a Jewish mom with a talk show, and when he/she became too choked up to continue talking, he would apologize for being verklempt and say, talk amongst yourselves, here's a topic: Barack Obama is great. Discuss.

My eyes watered. I nearly cried. Which would have been embarassing -- I was at work, where I am a known victim of stress and taker of anti-anxiety meds. Had I broken down crying, I'm sure I would have found myself in the looney bin -- if they send people to the looney bin any more. One flew over the sparrows nest, in my case.

As far as I can remember, I do not think I have ever had the experience of having my presidential candidate actually be sworn in. Until today. I did not vote for Reagan. I wanted Dole -- he never made it. I wanted McCain -- not this last time but some other time. I voted for Gore. I voted for Kerry. There may have been a time or two when I didn't vote out of frustration of ever seeing my vote mean anything.

Today I experienced something new -- the guy I voted for walking up Pennsylvania Avenue. My first reaction, after the near tears, was to think: What the hell are you doing? Get back in the bullet-proof car! Don't risk this now! There are nutballs in this country who hate you. Because of your skin color. Because your dad was "foreign." Because you're a laywer. Because you're a Democrat. Because your middle name is different.

So here I sit, full of hope. It's a good feeling. It's better than I've felt in a really, long time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm Feeling WAA Today

WAA -- It stands for "I am really feeling my Weight (over) my Age (higher every day) and my Arthritis (yes, I have it already) today.

It's a nasty combo. My arthritis makes me ache, so I don't want to exercise. Which makes my weight worse. I need to exercise to get my weight under control. And my age makes me not want to wear anything sold as exercise wear -- jog bras, spandex pants, whatever. The only thing I will wear is my husband's sweat pants (too big yes, but they stay up, so what does that say about MY size) and perferably his t-shirt (ditto).

All together, I am a LOVELY sight. And when I strap the leash onto my overweight dog and try to take him for a drag around the block, I can only imagine the thoughts of people driving by: "Oh my -- that poor woman. Where did she get those clothes? The Rags 'R Us discount bin? And, holy crap! Is that a pig with a fur coat on? Look at the size of that dog! They must sit and eat bon bons together while watching reruns of Lassie."

Or something like that.

I could start in my basement. We have a weight machine and something called the "Gazelle." This is an exercise implement my father-in-law bought and then handed off to us. You basically balance on the foot pads, swing your legs and arms in a kind of rowing fashion and melt off the pounds -- IF you can stay aboard. The first time I attempted to "Gazelle" I propelled myself off the "Gazelle" and nearly broke my teeth on the basement floor.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where For Art Thou, Baseball?

My life will be significantly different this summer. My high-schooler has decided he's had enough of high school sports. And my almost nine-year-old has decided if his brother ain't playin', he ain't playin', neither.

That means no baseball.

It's taking a while for this to sink in. I mean, I could still go to games and watch. But that's not really what baseball season meant to me.

Baseball was sweating my ass off as the fattest (and probably oldest, I reckon) mom working in the Snack Shack. Doling out nachoes and hot dogs and shivering with revulsion when I learned the secrets of the Snack Shack nacho cheese and hot dogs. Let's just say there's no guarantee that cheese or that dog is fresher than say, last week.

Baseball was interacting with the parents of the other players. Some I like a whole lot. Some, not so much. I'm sure they felt the same way about me. But they missed out on making friends with a fabulously funny gal (right?)

Baseball was figuring out how I could get out of work early enough to get my son to his game or practice.

Baseball was waiting -- waiting for practice to be over. waiting for the game to start. waiting to see if my son would even get in the game. Waiting for a plateful of nachoes from the Snack Shack.

Baseball was worry. Worry when the phone rang with a call from the coach saying my son had been hurt yet again. Worry that the shot to the head would hurt his brain, which I am counting on for med school. Worry that my son just didn't seem to be all that dedicated or interested in getting better or playing more.

Of course, that turned out to be true. And now that I think about it, it might just be fun to spend a summer going to a few baseball games as a SPECTATOR, not a PARENT.

I will miss the nachoes, though.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Maybe I'm the Crazy One

Several times at our Christmas Eve family gathering, I heard different relatives express the opinion that they were "tired" of the traditional Christmas gathering and gift giving and we were all crazy for not being in Arizona. Or New Mexico. Or Florida. Somewhere, anywhere, decidedly warmer than Omaha, Nebraska, in December.

I have no interest in these holiday travels. Why it just would not be Christmas without the family gatherings.

The "loud" discussions that, yes, can deteriorate into arguments. The nephews who mix strong drinks for themselves, their friends and their uncles. Which sometimes contribute to the "loud" discussions. When you can smell the CC in a CC and Coke from three feet away, that's a strong drink. Strong enough to loosen quite a few tongues.

Is it really Christmas until Grandpa gives somebody some unasked-for or unwanted advice? No. Is it really Christmas until some child (usually one of mine) sneers at one of the gifts he's received instead of just saying, thank you so much? Is it really Christmas without the sour-cream mashed potatoes, the peanut butter cup cookies, fudge, chicken and noodles and staggering home so tired you can hardly stay awake? Is it really Christmas without a nap?

I would miss all these things. They will be gone soon enough. Grandmas get older and eventually they stop getting older. They are gone. Then, the big family gatherings don't seem to be a priority for anybody any more. It can only take one year, maybe two, and the extended family get togethers break up into nuclear family celebrations.

Which are good too. But let's not rush their onset. Let's enjoy it while we can.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Driving Lessons

My 15 1/2 year old is learning to drive.
I'm of two minds about this.
On the one hand, I would love to lose some of my chauffeuring duties.
On the other hand, his driving scares me shitless.
I do not consider myself a great driver. I'm still a nervous, cautious driver. But I guess my 30 or so years of driving experience must count for something. Because when he's behind the wheel, all I can think is "Why are you doing that? How can you not know to NOT accelerate through a turn? How will you ever drive without me in the seat next to you saying, "Slow down! Move over! Are you going to stop? STOP!"
His assignment for drivers ed class this weekend is to observe his parents driving and note any mistakes they make.
What is this teacher thinking? I'm the one who wrote the $375 check to PAY for the drivers ed class. The last thing I need is my kid sitting in the seat next to me saying, "Slow down! Move over! Are you going to stop? STOP!"
That's my job.