Sunday, November 21, 2010
Dead Again. Oh, shit, how to explain this plot? Kenneth Branagh plays a detective who is called to an orphanage to investigate the strange case of Emma Thompson, a mysterious woman who just showed up one day, mute with shock and therefore unable to explain who she is or why she's there. Through hypnosis, she explains all she knows about a famous murder that happened in the neighborhood decades before. How does she know so much the case, and why is she only able to recall it under hypnosis? Why does she show up now, more than 40 years after the murder and the execution of the killer? Why is he so drawn to her? Why does she seem so terrified of him? How much more can I tell you without giving away the plot twist? This is a classy, cool piece of entertainment, and now that I'm thinking of it, I want to see it again RIGHT NOW.
Suddenly, Last Summer. Oh, shit, how to explain THIS plot? Katharine Hepburn is the incredibly wealthy old socialite mother of a very famous, newly dead poet. She wants Dr. Montogomery Clift to lobotomize her breathtakingly beautiful niece, Elizabeth Taylor. Kate insists Dr. Clift do it now, before Liz gets over her temporary amnesia. She'll give him scads of money for his hospital if he piths the poor girl's brain before she can reveal what happened last summer, and the scandalous and truly, truly weird family secret that shocked and traumatized her into memory loss. Like Dead Again, this movie is top-flight, with a multi-Oscared cast and director and a story by none other than Tennessee Williams. Which is not to say the story won't end with you saying, "God, I'm glad I'm not rich and brilliant because this family is fuckin' NUTS!"
My mom's house smells overwhelmingly like cat urine, but she doesn't seem to notice. I suppose if it doesn't bother her, it shouldn't bother me.
Oh, and I found out that she and my kid sister decided we're all going to Old Country Buffet this Thursday for Thanksgiving, which is fine except for the fact that I just spent $20 on a Pizza Hut gift card for my sister as a hostess gift. Now what the fuck am I gonna do with it?
Most of all, I'm rattled that neither my sister nor my mother asked how it went with my Aunt Jo. Plus my mom's memory gets worse and worse every time I see her. At least as it relates to my life. Today she admitted she had no recollection whatsoever of my 2-year crush on Bobby Sherman, or how my bedroom door was covered with his pictures and it was the first concert I'd ever attended. She can remember -- and not forgive -- my Aunt Jo for whatever went on before I was born, but things about my life escape her. I know it's not her fault ... she doesn't choose what to forget. But it still hurts.
In short, today's birthday celebration just left me depressed. I'm sorry anyone even bothered. We could have just lumped it in with Thanksgiving like we usually do and let me go a day without taking a bus and a train over and the $20 cab ride back.
Oh well, I'll give my nephew the Pizza Hut card in his Christmas stocking. After all, he enjoys going out to dinner alone with his dad ("Boys night out," he calls it) and this way he can pay. He was adorable today -- that's what I should try to remember. And I'll try to get my mind right in time for Thanksgiving. It just confuses and hurts me that of all the people who think I'm special and worth celebrating, my immediate family is not among them.
Saturday it was packed with my people. People who love Valley of the Dolls. Fans who, like me, can recite the dialog:
"Sparkle, Neely, sparkle!"
"It's a rotten business."
"I know, but I love it."
"Oh, the hell with 'em. Let 'em droop!"
"Now get outta my way. I got a MAN waiting for me."*
"Boobies! Who needs 'em?"
"Art films? NUDIES! That's all they are!"
"All cats are gray at night."
"I'm gonna heat up the lasagna."
The men sitting in front of John and me brought pill bottles filled with "dolls" … OK, they were really M&Ms. As a sign of unity for those of us who love this cinematic classic, they turned and rewarded me for knowing the film so well by sharing their "dolls." But not all of them. They needed to save enough to shake and rattle the pill bottle every time Anne, Jennifer or especially our beloved Neely popped a pill (or two, or handful.)
As if seeing this camp classic in a theater among my own for the fist time wasn't delightful enough, after the movie, Neely HERSELF came out on stage. Yes, Miss Patty Duke was there, live and in person.
What's more, she's Cathy who's lived most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Berkeley Square, as well as Patty, who's only seen the sites a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. And, of course, Helen Keller.
It was a real-live icon, right in front of me. A small, slender woman who looks every one of her 65 years, but still has a great figure and a terrific sense of humor and warmth. She freely admitted that she used to abhor Valley of the Dolls but now she loves it. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say she loves how much we love it. She told stories about Sharon Tate and Judy Garland, about Anne Bancroft and Gregory Peck and the night she won her Oscar for The Miracle Worker. She even sang a duet of "Come Live with Me," aping this most tasteless scene from the Valley of the Dolls.
On the way out of the theater, our eyes met and she said "hi." I was thuh-rilled! I can't imagine a better present. Then he and I went out for tapas and sangria. I had a lovely time.
I always do with John. As with my best friend, I can be myself -- my goofiest self -- with him. Sometimes I think that's been John's greatest gift to me, the way he simply takes me as I am.
*I included that one for you, Snarkela.
Day 21 :: (scenario) You’ve gotten into a fight with your best friend and an hour later, he’s in a car accident. What do you do? The very thought of this creeps me out. I worry about my best friend so much, especially that he might be injured or ill and no one will think to contact me. Since he lives in another city, I would figure out how to get word to him that he is my thoughts and prayers. I would talk to his family or, if he's in the hospital, the nurse on his floor. I would help in any way I could. Any battles we'd had would be irrelevant.
Cheers to all of us thieves!
What was the last thing you put in your mouth? A water bottle. This answer does not make me happy for a variety of reasons.
How late did you stay up last night and why? Just before midnight. I would have stayed up later, but I was full off booze and dope, as Helen Lawson would say. Actually it was sangria and M&M's, as my friend John took me to a special screening of Valley of the Dolls. I am going to devote a post to this fantabulous experience later.
If you could move somewhere else, would you? No. I love Chicago. Last night the Christmas lights went on, and it's so gorgeous!
Have you ever been kissed under fireworks? No. And come to think of it, that makes me sad.
Do you believe ex’s can be friends? It does seem difficult. I don't know why having loved someone once precludes ever liking them again, but somehow it does. I do have one former boyfriend who keeps me involved in his life, albeit from a distance, and it means a great deal to me.
When was the last time you cried really hard? I don't remember. I'm not much of a crier.
What items could you not go without during the day? My laptop, my iPod, and my sunglasses.
Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? I don't recall.
How do you feel about your life right now? I'm kind of emotional about everything right now. I'm touched by how people are fussing over me, but now I'm bummed that I've never been kissed under fireworks.
If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find? A couple of friend requests.
Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? Yes, because they weren't really pills I took last night, just M&Ms.
Has anyone ever called you perfect before? No.
Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m.: who do you want it to be? My best friend.
Do you think too much or too little? Too much, but perhaps about the wrong things.
Do you believe in fairy tales? Nah.
Have you ever licked the back of a CD to try to get it to work? Really? People do this? Is it ever successful?
What’s the largest age difference between yourself and someone you’ve dated? Twelve years.
Have you ever been on a blind date? Yes.
Do you have any friends that you’ve known for 10 years or more? God, yes! Most of them, in fact.
Have you ever had a crush on a teacher? Yes.
What song do you want played at your funeral? Let It Be.
Would you tell your parents if you were gay? Dunno. I mean, I never told them when I started having heterosexual sex.
What would your last meal be before getting executed? Steak and eggs. Chocolate mousse for dessert. Something that would send me into a food coma.
Do you walk around the house naked? Yes.
What do you do as soon as you walk in the house? Do a headcount of the cats.
Who is the person you can count on the most? Depends on the situation. I look to different people for different advice/solace.
What is your favorite Holiday? Memorial Day or the 4th of July. I like the long weekends.
Would you ever get plastic surgery? No. Maybe. Depends.
Have you ever caught a fish? Yes. A small one. I let it go.
What is the first thing you notice about people? With men, it's hair. With women, it's their handbags.
What is the farthest you’ve been from home? Paris
How did you meet your spouse or significant other (or most recent one)? Work
Where was the last place you drove (other than home/school/work)? I don't recall. I haven't been behind the wheel since the Reagan administration.
This was very important to me because this is the first year that I haven't, and won't, hear from my uncle/Godfather -- my mom's kid brother. God knows the man has a lot of faults and has done a lot of people bad over his lifetime, but he's always been good to me. I even recall getting birthday wishes from him when he was a soldier in Vietnam. But he's very ill and, for all intents and purposes, is lost to me. So having my aunt/Godmother reenter my life just as he exits feels very important to me. Perhaps I'm just trying to impose order and purpose where there is none, but I want to believe this timing is significant.
In addition to the gettogether, my aunt gave me a ring that had been my grandmother's and my cousin gave me Grandma's Ryne Sandberg jersey! My grandmother loved her Ryno more than any other Cub ever, and I think of her every time I see his #23 pennant flying over Wrigley Field. My cousin gave her this jersey to wear to their annual Mother's Day date at Wrigley Field, and he said I should have it since I have taken her place as the family's "insane Cub fan." So it was like having my Grandma there with us, too.
It was lovely of my aunt to do this. I haven't seen her or my cousin since my Grandma's funeral back in 1997. There was quite a to-do over Grandma's will, with my older sister trying to get as much for herself and me and my kid sister as possible. It was an ugly matter and I dealt with it by not dealing with it, by withdrawing completely. I didn't want my Grandma's money, I wanted my Grandma. So I am grateful that my aunt and cousin don't bear me any ill will as a result of all that.