Sunday, January 2, 2011



Nebraska let me tag along with her and her girls to see the Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp movie, ‘The Tourist’ for New Year’s. The decision was an easy choice between watching the Big Ten getting beat down in an embarrassing way (even though it was close, Wisconsin still laid an egg in the Rose Bowl) and a chance to enjoy good company was an easy one. It would have been an easy one even if the games had been more favorable to the teams I wanted to do well HAD BEEN doing well. Why would I pass up a chance to sit next to Nebraska in darkened movie theatre?

It was a unique movie going experience. The Marcus Midtown Theatre provides a restaurant dining atmosphere to go along with the movie. I even saw a bar for cocktails in the complex! Talk about your one-stop date night!! Made me think about how casinos are designed to be self-contained, by providing so much that you begin to see logic in the convenience of everything overlooking the steep mark-up. I enjoyed my meal (ordered a Big Gooey…  a sandwich I will be trying to make that at home for myself!) , and the menu is as full as you’d expect from a casual dining at any of the national restaurant chains.

Though I won’t do too much spoiling with this, there is a scene where the slightly awkward math teacher Frank Tupelo (Depp) is talking with the mysterious and intriguing Elise Clifton-Ward (Jolie, who had a ethereal beauty to her evoking images of Victorian-era privilege) about being more decisive with women, a kind of tutorial of ‘how to pick up girls’. She tells him that he should be more decisive and she gives him the opportunity to ask her to dinner. Instead of asking if she would join him (Would you like to have dinner with me?), the right way for Frank to have approached her was to said it in a clear and decisive way that makes it less of a ‘request’ and more like a demand. That is where I got my header from. Chicks still dig when a man takes charge like that and being decisive with women is never going out of style.

I was watching some of ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’ on TCM the other day and how Cary Grant was ‘managed’ into a situation where at a picnic his character laughably competes with teenage boys (and the formulaic would-be suitor of his antagonist/love interest) and ‘the Bobby-Soxer’ (a teenage Shirley Temple-Black) who is pretending to be infatuated with him enlists her for the time being, ex-boyfriend and his buddies to let Grant’s character win the friendly competitions. I juxtaposed this with how strong and independent both Temple-Black and her aunt played by Myrna Loy were in the film, yet they would still conform to what I think of as playing the supporting roles to the man in their life.

All three women were confusing to me. Obviously strong and capable but still left weak and secondary to the men in their life, and my not seeing much difference in today’s portrayal of women as I did in the 40’s was a little disheartening. I’d like to believe that WOMEN see themselves in a different light and I think that they do. But when it comes to their being able to be this strong and independent person with a man, something happens. These capable and independent women become ditzy and indecisive, all three ultimately manipulated by men.


I read on-line recently that young people prefer communicating by text or some other form of impersonal social media than by speaking directly to someone by phone. It made me feel archaic because even with the connections I have made with people via the internet, I still prefer the old-fashioned way of getting to know someone, via snail mail (regrettably, I have not written to folks as much as I would like to have myself, so a pox on me), phone call and through ‘face time’. The question that I have to ask, are we that afraid of making a direct human connection that status updates and tweets are enough? Is taking the time to actually speak to someone in the flesh or by phone too big a burden for us to handle?

A comment that stuck with me from the piece was that many young people think it is rude to call and interrupt someone or expect that a person is available to spend time talking with you. Again, that was stunning moment because when I was younger talking on the phone was THE thing to do. Discovering that you had a message that your Dad or Mom half-remembered or that a sibling butchered, sharing an embarrassing moment that took place before taking the message or if you lucky, handing you the phone.

Does anyone else think that we as a society have chosen to hide behind our electronic persona and eschewing the responsibility of being more than the pretense of what we wish we could be..? Are we so disappointed with ourselves that living as make-believe creations is that much more preferable to revealing us as the bundled sack of neuroses?? Or are we that insecure about who we are that we cannot stand the reflection that comes with how we are seen in the eyes of another person?? Whatever.

I don’t think you can be strong as a woman and make a claim to the kind of helplessness that great movements of the 20th century, suffrage and Equal Rights effectively made relics of. In fact, that the latter STILL hasn’t been ratified is emblematic of the confusion that makes it way to how men and women relate and engage one another in relationships. And more specifically how I feel I advance myself with women, since my ‘women studies’ program consists of my own worldly experience in a single-parent, female-led households, growing up and as an adult.

A lot of what I don’t get I file under something that I call ‘The Snowflake Corollary’. What makes us as individuals unique is the same thing that makes EVERY individual unique. That is a hard idea for many people to hold because whenever someone hears about a situations that on the face sounds like something they may have been involved in, they immediately see themselves in your situation and instead of being about you, it becomes about them. For me to go into the issues that I have that are directly related to my injury is to talk about a host of common human frailties that are so universal that people can’t help but inject themselves into my condition and tell me that they ‘know what I am going through’. Once again, let me spend ten years of ceaselessly buffeting you about the head, making solid contact reminiscent of having a toddler ram into your stomach, then maybe you’d have an idea of what I am saying when I talk about anxiety issues and panic attacks, or when things drop into one of the ‘memory holes’ (which I nabbed for ‘1984’, in case anyone thinks I am that clever to have come up with that on my lonely). It additionally serves as an appropriate description for what may be going on inside of my head, which until I am through using it, no one will be able to verify.

That is a big problem with being able to come up with a prognosis for a future relationship with anyone. That is when for some unknown (or convenient) reason the snowflakes all melt into a big heaping ball of slush. ‘Let things happen’ and ‘nature will run its course’, and of then the old stand-by, ‘if it is meant to be’…

Because I have stretched my self-imposed limit, I will let my man Louis Pasteur sum things up and why the hypocrisy of the corollary leaves itself exposed.

Chance favors only the prepared mind.

Louis Pasteur

If I think too much, oh well. If anything, thinking is something that lets me know that I am still in charge of what is going on up there. Episodes that could explode, like the uneasiness I have when I am in new places no matter how benign they may be to others, don’t because I hold on to my rational sense fiercely.

I believe that some of the understand that I have always extended to facilitate getting to know someone who holds different constructs and expectations of a brother, is not something that I want to task myself with finding out. There are enough challenges for me to face with more tangible and real rewards, a quid pro quo, and even they are attached to subjective understanding.

Since I did not want to do that a decade ago, meeting someone with whom I had to go through a learning curve and also bear what I feel is a lack of civility or understanding (which is what made the idea of finding a relationship with someone I had failed once with appealing… there would not be the issue of ‘getting to know you’ to deal with and we could have moved forward after correcting were we went wrong between us the first time) being extended to me, I simply began to go about the process of ‘downsizing’ my life and getting the maximum fulfillment I can without including a relationship, and leaving that completely up to the divinations of fate. That is what happened to Professor Guildea despite his avoidance of the appendage of humanity, save his connection with the priest. Where the he and I diverge is in I would welcome someone in my life… but I simply won’t pursue anyone for the sake of company.


Mizrepresent said...

Hey there, Happy New Year! Dinner was great, the day was relaxing too! I do like the idea of men taking charge, in fact i am more drawn to those that do, but sadly i must admit, that i am also one of those strong women who become mush under such a man...working on this too! Thanks for the story, as always found much to think about.

mrs. miss alaineus said...

i have always hated talking on the phone so texting has been a great boon for me- short, simple and it's in writing so it's harder to misinterpret the message.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Glad you had a nice New Year, and the Big Ten tanked in the BCS. Happy New Year :o)

Toon said...

I thought I'd hate Depp and the whole experience of "Alice in Wonderland", but it was a great interpretation. That film is a work of art. Really.

All 4 me said...

Electronic connections are convenient for many, especially for the very busy. But I think its up to you. If you prefer to communicate via phone or face to face, make the call. Let the person get used to conversations with you being verbal or in person or let them know you'd prefer to speak by phone or through a personal visit.

Jonthy, Alice the uppity white cat's babysitter said...

Mark, I don't really like the whole texting and internet society that we seem to have become. However, I received my teaching certificate several years ago in an on-line program. The class only met once every two weeks. What I found (surprisingly) was that I got to know the people in my class better than if it had been a regular classroom (and, believe me, most of my education has been in the classroom). I guess because they were not in front of the class (shy) people were more forthcoming in class discussions. At the end of the certification process, I knew everyone better. Go figure.