It’s time for Ketchup With Us, hosted by Mel and me on the 1st & 15th each month. Today, we’re talking about firsts. ANY firsts. Tell us about one in your life. Or just link up an old post. You decide.
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Tomorrow is my son’s first day of school. He’s going to be a freshman in high school. Don’t even get me started on that one. I’ve already cried twice today and it had absolutely nothing to do with that. For the most part anyway.
With Vivien already entrenched in her school, I wanted to do something special with Dean today on his last day of summer. Something besides just prepping all of his clothes and supplies. And last night, I finally decided what that something special would be. It’s a timely choice for his age as well as for this week. Plus it gives me the opportunity to share something with him from my youth.
I’m not sure I’ve seen this movie since it first played in theaters. Back in the year Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Nine. (Doesn’t it feel like that should be written on parchment paper? Preceded by “in the year of our Lord.”) I can’t believe this movie is now twenty-five years old. I could tell Dean wasn’t completely sold on my selection.
“But, Mom … it’s soooo old.”
“And it looks boring.”
“Wait. It’s about school? And boys reading poetry to each other? Wow. I can’t wait.”
Okay, so he didn’t actually say any of those things. But I could read them all over his face. After all, this movie offered no planet-altering explosions. No spectacular special effects. And nobody like Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg or whoever else plays the smartass/hero in teen movies these days. It couldn’t possibly be any good.
What do I know? I’m just a mom.
But I didn’t care. I sat him down, found it on Amazon and clicked “purchase.” He’s a smart kid. I knew he’d like it if he gave it a chance. Plus, from the very beginning, there were kids smoking and cursing enough to distract him from the fact that this was an “intellectual” film. (I have absolutely no idea why I used quotes there.)
Fortunately, my gamble paid off. He had a few questions during the movie. We paused it once or twice so I could (over-) explain a thing or two. And, by the time we got to the pivotal scenes, he was fully invested. So I could cry quietly without fear of eye rolling and snickering. I assume 99% of you have seen the movie in which case you already know what I’m talking about. To the 1% who haven’t, I have no intention of spoiling it for you. Do take the time to see the movie in its entirety. Soon. And don’t watch the following clip. It made me cry today. For an entirely different reason than why it made me cry back in 1989.
Dead Poets Society. It’s a great movie to revisit. Compelling, stimulating. I’m glad I was with Dean when he saw it for the first time. He’s already asked when we can watch it again. Because he wants his sister to see it. And he wants to be there when she sees it for the first time.
Because it’s that kind of movie. I get it, Dean.
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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer from last time is …
I remember being upset when Michael Jackson died. And Christopher Reeve. And John Denver, Hughes and Ritter. Each time, I was measurably sad. Each time, I remember where I was when I first heard the news. And each time, I remember having it affect me enough that it took me a moment to process that an iconic figure in my life was gone. I was moved and I was mournful but I never cried. After all, I didn’t actually know any of these people so why would I be moved to tears over their deaths?
But yesterday changed everything.
I have a CD of TV theme songs in my car. I made the mistake of popping it in this morning. Never mind the sniffing and sniveling I exhibited when I first heard the sad news yesterday. Today I found myself engulfed in a full-on sob. And it was a little confusing at first. Because I couldn’t really figure out why. Why was the death of Robin Williams affecting me so much more profoundly than any other in my memory?
And the more I thought about it … and him … the more apparent it became.
When I was a wee pup …
I remember pleading to get extensions on my bedtime so I could watch TV. We didn’t even have cable yet. So there were only three channels from which to choose my television programming. I had several favorite shows, among them was Happy Days. I never missed an episode. Even after Fonzie jumped the shark. What did I care? I was a kid. And, to a kid, jumping over a live shark is nothing short of awesome. So when the producers of HappyDays further pushed the envelope by introducing an alien to the cast, I was all in. I remember even having a bit of a crush on this lunatic with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. So I was thrilled when he spun off to his own show. And the best thing about it was that my dad was sitting next to me for every episode. After years of dissing much of the goofball comedy that I called TV, he actually liked this show. And before I knew it, he and my mom were both tuning in every week with me to watch the show.
When I was in elementary school …
I remember seeing the cinematic adaptation of Popeye at the movie theater with all of my elementary school friends. I even had the soundtrack (and I can still sing a few of its songs … if prodded).
When I was a tween-ager seeking books for school reports …
He transitioned fully to the big screen where his first big project was The World According to Garp, the first of many books-made-into-movies by John Irving (who would, because of this film, become my favorite author).
When I was a teenager …
He released Moscow on the Hudson, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and Cadillac Man, all of which I can remember seeing at the theater with friends or on dates with faceless people from my past.
When I met my husband …
I learned he wasn’t a big fan of Mr. Williams. To that point, most of what Dave had been exposed to was merely the actor’s manic, goofball, often-medicinally-fueled, hyperactive, 100mph material. And it just wasn’t his cup of tea. But the actor pulled a fast one on Dave when he released Awakenings and The Fisher King. And Dave was duly impressed. And now paying full attention. Whenever it involved a dramatic role. I get that. Over the years, there were several movies where Mr. Williams played characters who were able to smile or even laugh through their own tears. It was all so real and so humbling that I couldn’t help but cry (and sometimes laugh) right along with him. It was in these roles that he was the most amazing. And most human.
When I was a young adult …
He won his first Oscar. For a little movie called Good Will Hunting. No offense to Matt Damon (who I would later come to love) but Mr. Williams stole the show. And I guess the Academy thought so, too. I believe this scene is my brother’s favorite movie clip of all time.
When I became a mother …
I discovered a whole new collection of titles in his gargantuan body of work. Because he was a dad … and always a bit of a kid himself … he still found plenty of time to be silly. And he was often given carte blanche by his directors to improvise and “be himself” when the cameras were rolling. Thus was born projects like Aladdin, Jumanji, Flubber, Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire. All of these movies came out before my kids were even born and yet they love and have seen them repeatedly in their lifetimes.
What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, One Hour Photo, Night at the Museum … I could go on and on and on. But I’m guessing I don’t have to. Because judging from all the news feeds of my all too many social media forums, you guys already know what I’m talking about. And clearly you’re feeling it, too.
Farewell, Mr. Williams.
You’ve been making me laugh and cry for as long as I can remember. Like me, the world is reluctant to let you go and will not soon forget you. Thanks for making your life extraordinary. And for seizing the day again and again.
It’s been five days since I checked in here. Glad to see that number down a bit. Pretty impressive considering the cheese consumption in this household this week. And we’re now headed into Mardi Gras weekend. The good news is … lots of walking. The bad … lots of food … and drink. Sigh. Promise to be honest with the stupid weigh-ins. Ugh.
1. I attended a Polyphonic Spree concert with my brother and my friend, Vanessa. I realize most of you probably aren’t familiar with this band, so please allow me to pontificate. There’s something about their music (especially live) that elicits an inexplicable feeling of euphoria usually only indicative of a nice muscle relaxant. Or, well, something like that. Maybe it’s the 16 people taking the stage at once wearing choir robes and carrying with them an orchestra’s worth of instruments that sets them apart. I don’t know. And, because I’m a big dork, I stuck around after the concert to meet the band’s frontman, Tim DeLaughter (even his freakin’ name sounds happy) and snap a quick photo. I’ve included the picture as well as a shameless plug for the band (a video of their appearance on Scrubs in 2004 – Love this band. Love this show).
2. While Googling the above song for a good video for this post, I was reminded of a movie (in which the song was used) that I always intended but never actually got around to seeing. (Story of my life.) So this week, thanks to Netflix, I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Anyone besides me ever see it? That is one unconventional film. And it involves Jim Carrey in a serious (as opposed to manically stupid) role which (like Robin Williams) is always a good thing. I won’t ruin it for you by rehashing the whole plot. Just go see it for yourself some time and come back and tell me what you think.
3. Ellen DeGeneres used one of my jokes on her show this week. “ONE of my.” That’s funny. Like I have an arsenal or something. Anyway, she was seeking corny Valentine’s Day jokes and I tweeted her one. What’s that? Well, YES, I tweet. It’s 2012, McFly. (Great. Any hipness Twitter just bought me was erased by my cavalier use of ‘McFly.’)
4. I lost half of my face to a little snafu with a women’s skin care product, uncharacteristically cold weather and my own, full-on ignorance. Apparently, Retin-A does not double as a moisturizer. I’ll bet any woman worth her salt already knew that. In the area of cosmetics and girly savoir faire, I am not worth any salt, mine or anyone else’s. Which, apparently, is only about $2.99 per pound, thus rendering me pretty useless. Except that when I complained of my Retin-A debacle, one friend actually said I was ‘making leprosy cool.’ Um, thanks?
5. I made cheese. Yes, that’s right. I built it. From the ground up … or the milk up, as it were. There were powders, liquids, cooking thermometers and oversized, cauldron-y-looking pots involved. And then there was the whole curds-and-whey-separation, a rather tedious process. And kneading. Dear God, was there kneading. But, in the end, there was cheese. Mozzarella cheese. That we promptly used on a homemade pizza for dinner last night. I made cheese. (Sniff.) I may try walking on water later this weekend.
6. I watched my girl kick butt in her third year in the school talent show. She channeled a young Michael Jackson beautifully in her own take on ‘I Want You Back,” although I think she was going for Nickelodeon’s Victoria Justice who recently covered the old J5 song. And, as always, we got to see a lot of other kids strutting their best stuff on stage all evening. One of my favorite acts involved two nine-year-old white boys popping and locking better than a 1980s Alfonso Ribeiro. (Without googling him, please comment below if you actually know who I’m talking about. No cheating!)
7. With the help of a few friends, I compiled a list of of people we’d like to see cloned and sent it to @GeneticsView who (foolishly) decided to follow me on Twitter. They hung in there for most of my shenanigans but finally unfollowed me because, I think, I got greedy and asked for too many clones. Who was on the list, you ask? Using the input of others as well as my own ideas, we sent them the following names: Brad Pitt, Jane Russell, Johnny Depp, Julia Child, Bono, Ellen Degeneres and Orlando Bloom. We were really just getting started when they unfollowed. Cowards. What crappy customer service.
8. I learned that I am an unteachable monkey when it comes to the computer. As such, there will likely be many more ‘This is not a real blog post‘ blog posts until I get this crap straightened out. Feel free to ignore them.
9. I learned that I know someone who knows Paul McCartney. That’s only two degrees, people. Meaning YOU are only three degrees of separation from Sir Paul. Go run and update your Facebook statuses … now!
10. I accidentally emailed my kids’ teachers from my ‘tits’ email again. Bear in mind, my daughter’s teachers include a nun. Please say a prayer for me immediately.
11. I an effort to throw off the many cheesy porn autobots of the world, I tried reprogramming my Twitter account by using hashtags like #Osmonds, #GirlScouts, #PBS, #BillCosby, #7thHeaven, #milk, #Crazy8s and #Waltons. It worked, but only for about five hours.
12. I devoted a day of my life to thinking good thoughts about Doug Henning. Doug Henning, you guys! Am I the only one who misses his big, buck teeth? Did you know he was a magician, illusionist, escape artist AND politician? Didn’t see that one coming, did you? A moment of silence for Mr. Henning, please.
Oh, yeah. And we passed 25,000 hits on this six-month-old blog. Yay, us! Thanks to all for reading. Happy Mardi Gras! I’m off to THE paradeS.