December 29, 2008

Le Weekend

Sitting around our kitchen table trying to decide which movie to go to felt like a meeting of the UN Security Council. Isn't that where there are five or so powerful nations, all with veto power?

Eventually we drew straws, or in this case toothpicks, a foreign concept to one of us who apparently thought she could tell the length of the 'pick by the small amount peeking above my wife's fist. "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" won.

Naturally we didn't see it.

Of the movies in contention there was the aforementioned talking dog movie, which personally I was struggling with after my sister saw a trailer and said it was really silly. Which really shouldn't be surprising because we're talking talking dogs here. It's not going to be Shakespeare. But I really liked the Mexican angle since I'm now almost a native, having been down there three times. I could lapse into Spanish at any moment. Podría caducar en español en todo momento.

There was "Four Christmases" which I'd seen but couldn't judge accurately because I had gone into the movie with exceedingly low expectations (I'd almost never seen a movie with the word 'Christmas' in it that I've liked, including "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation") and I was giddy from being off work. A slide show of a stranger's European vacation might've been exciting given the novelty of getting paid to watch a movie. But I was partial to it since it had the greatest comedic line I'd heard in a decade. Talking about his sad childhood, Vince Vaughn says it was like "Shashank Redemption" but without the gentle elderly black man to help him through it. I could also much relate to his gag reflex when someone else vomits. Highbrow humor indeed.

I wanted to see "Valkryie" but that drew no interest. "Benjamin Button" looked pretty good and I'm surprised Mom, whose birthday we were celebrating this 27th day of December, was uninterested. Eventually she limited the field to "Four Christmases" and "Bevery Hills", partially because I'd talked up "Four Christmases" so. Someone hated Jim Carrey so "Yes Man" was dismissed. "Seven Pounds" was said to be too sad for the Christmas season, and maybe any season. "Marley and Me" was a non-starter since my wife can't see movies in which the dogtagonist (dog + protagonist) dies in the end.

Round and round we went, debating the merits and demerits, reading reviews and assessing whether 13-year old Katelyn could see it. It actually took longer to decide which movie to go to than to see the movie we eventually chose.

Shopping-wise, due to the time wasted movie wrangling, instead of going to Easton we settled for Tuttle, which is like settling for watching the Cincinnati Bengals when you could watch the Buckeyes. Or it's like having a Bo-tox'd blowhard like Joe Biden as VP instead of Sarah Palin. A stiff price we paid for movie indecisiveness!

What sylvan glade, at least in frigid winter, compares to the beauty of a cleaned bathroom? It was all I could do to stop from taking a picture of it so that it would last longer. Because that's the thing about cleaning - the results are so temporary as to make the seasons look, by comparison, almost eternal. "Take a picture, it'll last longer" was the childhood rejoinder to star-struck boys from pubescent girls. Now in middle-age the shining white bathtub has a similar effect on me.

I sing the bathroom electric! Yes the bathroom shines in glory, the product of necessity. They say necessity is the mother of invention but I say that a visit from your mother is the mother of cleaning the bathroom. It was all I could do not to buy five bathmats as if I could buy my way out of the future desultory sight of mildew. (Who was it who said the Irish don't clean well because they'd rather be reading? There's a nice spin.)

Fresh from victory over the bathroom gremlins I descended on the quiet park path along a rural lake. The rain was of a continuous variety but felt good as it conferred virtue as well as ensuring privacy.

This self-same lake was the site, so short a time ago, of the Labor Day canoe trip. It always feels a highlight of summer somehow, the conquering of the internals of a lake we normally only hike around.

On this day there was no canoeing although I always fantasize that I was an Indian and hardy enough to treat the winter as if just a wee bit chillier than summer. I imagine barely noticing the changes in nature, or at least giving them no quarter, of wearing a light t-shirt and shorts to this place in deep December and pretending there has been no intervening change. It's folly; recognizing the seasons is as necessary as recognizing human limits. (To quote Miss O'Connor, "In genuine tragedy and comedy, the definite is explored to its extremity and man is shown to be the limited creature he is...")

Sometimes I imagine the lake fantasy but with all the technological improvements that I can bring to it. Bundling up warmly, with proper shoes, so that my feet don't half-freeze as they did today after they got soaked. It's along these times when I think of how we try to alter nature to the point of unrecognizability, such as the way poor Michael Jackson wanted to be white or a woman or some combination thereof. Nature often has the last word. Sometimes I think of the plot of a fictional piece in which an Indian suffers from seasonal affective disorder. Something like this:
The squaws leave and the tribal council begins. "Runs with Elk" passes the pipe while the elders stare ahead with dark, impassive eyes. Mention is made of the white man and what to trade him for firearms.

The young semi-warrior named Bows with Glittens asks to speak. He is recognized by the wizened chief. He says that it's increasingly clear that the tribe needs more light boxes to treat an epidemic of seasonal affective disorder.

"When the light grows dim, I have a craving for sweets and feel sorta depressed," said Bows with Glittens. "I hear the white man has an invention called 'light boxes' which emit full-spectrum light that mimics the sun in the time before the deer mate."
I continued to walk to the sweet spot, that place where it's fun to walk, where the rhythm is infectious and where you'd sooner stride than not. I feel relaxed in the sleety rain and unbidden, a song comes to mind only it turns out I mangled the lyrics. I thought Neil Diamond sings in "I've Been This Way Before": "And I've been renewed! I've been regained." But Google proves otherwise, smashing blissful ignorance:
I've seen the light
And I've seen the flame
And I've been this way before
And I'm sure to be this way again
For I've been refused
And I've been regained
And I've seen your eyes before
And I'm sure to see your eyes again

For I've been released
And I've been regained
And I've sung my song before
And I'm sure to sing my song again

Some people got to laugh
Some people got to cry
Some people got to make it through
By never wondering why


mrsdarwin said...

Of course you like your bathroom! You're toilet-rich!

But seriously... I have to clean a bathroom today, and though I'll be glad I did it afterwards, my heart sinks at the thought of the precious daylight hours I'll spend. This is compounded by the fact that it's the children's bathroom, and there are suspicious smears on the wall by the toilet...

Cleaning the bathroom is like exercising -- you get a virtuous glow afterwards, but first you've got to do the work.

TS said...

Yep no virtuous glow without dealing with suspicious smears, as you so eloquently put it. Story of life, 'eh? I'd help you clean it but live too far away and would likely just get in the way. :-)

Anonymous said...

Seven Pounds was a very, very well done piece of propaganda for suicide as atonement.

TS said...

Oh now...My 13-year old godchild saw it and said that it was important for everyone to see it.

Lord knows you're the last person I have to tell that it feels like such an uphill climb in this culture to avoid "end justifies the means" thinking. I suppose I'll have to go email her now letting her know the message was awful (for all the good it will do).