Monday, March 29, 2010

Never Grow Old, Never Die

And if you can recite the end of that movie tag line, then you too are a child of the '80s. Lost Boys was my introduction to the vampire oeuvre. Teenage boys were still way out of my league, so hot teenage boys that were vampires? Be still my still beating heart. That movie made such an impression on me that 23 years later (yes, I actually did the math), Kiefer Sutherland is STILL on my list. I loved that movie. I can probably still quote a dozen or so lines from it, verbatim.

Ten years later, vampires once again sunk their teeth into me. I was working two jobs, never sleeping, eating the worst that Applebee’s had to offer, when, on a random night off, I switched on my illegal cable and came across the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was love at first bite. (Sorry, sorry.) In a world before TIVO and DVR, and being inept at recording on my dilapidated VCR, I arranged my work schedule to always be off when Buffy was on. When Angel took her virginity then broke her heart, he broke mine as well. I can name the top five Buffy episodes off the top of my head (Hush, The Gift, The Body, The Wish, Once More with Feeling) and can explain why Band Candy, while fantastic, did not make the list. Buffy was must-see TV for me and it never released its hold. Through both the good (the Mayor) and the bad (Glory), I never missed an episode or a chance to discuss an episode, in depth, ad nauseam.

It took another decade before my fancy was once again caught by vampires, but this time, vampires didn’t live in fictional Sunnydale, they lived on your street. True Blood took vampires out of books and planted them straight in your backyard. There was sex, violence, and all sorts of other goodies. Once again, I was hooked. This was vampires for adults. (The books are practically porn.) Throw in an incredibly hot blonde (shades of Kiefer, but much taller), Southern accents, and plenty of atmosphere and I gladly hoodwink HBO for my free three months every time a new season airs.

Why do I go into such detail to explain my love of vampires? Because on the eve of my Twilight: New Moon viewing party, I believe it is important to set the groundwork that I do actually enjoy and appreciate vampire stories that are done well. And I appreciate the Twilight series, but for a totally different reason.

There is no subtlety in Twilight. No character development. No background, no foreshadowing, no humor. On Buffy, demons and vampires play poker for kittens, not coins. On True Blood, they play Yatzee and first person to reach a million points wins. In Twilight, they play piano. Boring! Twilight brings the vampire back to basics. Edward is the most neutered vamp in history. He doesn’t believe in sex before marriage, he likes to cuddle, he can go out in anything other than direct sunlight (and even then, he doesn’t burn, he only sparkles), and, to add insult to injury, he doesn’t even eat people! He’s a vegetarian vampire! There are Disney cartoon villains scarier than Edward. Even Jacob, the sexless soul mate is just an overgrown puppy with big teeth. The Twilight series is vampires for dummies.

Compared to the filet mignon (served rare) that was Buffy and is True Blood, Twilight is beef jerky. It’s what happens when you take out all of the flavor, the fat, the bones, and the blood. Did I read all four books in one week? Yes, I did. Have I gone to see both movies within 12 hours of release? Yup. I didn’t say beef jerky wasn’t addictive, or unsatisfying, but it certainly isn’t good for you and, like any salty snack, it just leaves you thirsty for something more. Luckily, I have only two months to go until True Blood sates that thirst (and if I can ever find bottled True Blood in stores, I will be one happy bloodsucker.)

“I don’t know who you think you are, but before this night is through. I’m gonna do bad things with you.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back in Time

Sadly, our gay teenage friend will not have a prom. The judge denied a motion for a preliminary injunction but ruled to hold a trial – at a later date. Prom was supposed to be in two weeks. Guess that gets him out of actually having to make a judgment. Good thing that is not in his job description or anything.

Honestly, I think the only true lesson to be learned here is one my brother-in-law taught me years ago. He was referring to his habit of coming home with new cars without telling his wife he had bought them, but I think it covers all sorts of bases. His lesson? “Ask forgiveness, not permission.” Our out and proud teenager could have simply bought two tickets and left it open ended as to whom she would bring. If she absolutely had to write down a date’s name, she could have lied. In fact, there are many ways she could have gotten into prom. Once there, do you think they actually would have denied her entrance? Do you think the teachers stuck on prom duty would have been willing to make a stand and show her the door? They might have gossiped in a corner, but that’s what I assume all teachers do about students, so no biggie there.

Let’s be real. Do you honestly and truly believe that when our intrepid gay heroine showed up at prom, with a woman on her arm and a tux on her body, that a hush would have fallen over the crowd? Do you believe all conversation would have ceased as she and her date proudly walked through the parting sea of students onto the dance floor as a spotlight magically followed them to their first dance? That really only happens in movies. In real life, you can’t shut teenagers up with duct tape and getting them to move en masse is like herding cats. The girl is a senior in her school. She’s an out lesbian. I’m pretty sure her fellow students had a certain expectation of how she would dress. Showing up in an evening gown with a boy? Well that would have been news? But a chick and a tux? Peshaw.

So where does this leave us? As my sister-in-law pointed out, 20 years ago (damn, she’s old), her prom was cancelled in fear that blacks and whites would co-mingle. At my prom, only a scant two years later than hers but in a different part of the country, not only did blacks and whites co-mingle, they were flat out coupling. I have pictures on FB to prove it. Maybe even now, there are prom committees shaking their heads and wondering what all the fuss is about as they plan playlists jam packed with Adam Lambert, Elton John, George Michael, Rufus Wainright, and Clay Aiken (ok, no one under 45 listens to the Gayken). Maybe even now there are proms fully expecting girls in tuxes and boys in drag. Who knows? But if she had just shown up and tried to dance the futterwack vigorously, none of this would have happened. But it has. And it’s a shame.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just another Brick in the Wall

I watch a lot of HGTV. However, there are several things about home remodeling, renovation, and buying that I just don’t understand.

Almost everyone on this channel wants a home office. Why? Considering technology today, a laptop, printer/fax combo, and your array of small electronics can all fit on one desk. Throw in a couple of filing cabinets and you’ve successfully filled a corner. Unless you are housing a Cray supercomputer or trying to invent the freeze ray, what will you do with the rest of the room? (And please don’t call it “space.” It has four walls, a ceiling, floor, door, window, and usually a closet. It is contained, useful, and already has a name – it’s a room.)

I find myself confused over the terms move-in ready vs. fixer-upper. On HGTV, those phrases seem limited to painting. Move-in ready means that every room is already painted. Fixer-upper means you have to paint. I believe they mean something entirely different. Fixer-upper is when the renovations are necessary for living. If every inch of your new home is covered in 30-yr old wallpaper (including pipes), and if you require a plumber, electrician, and/or general contractor, then you have a fixer upper. But if your home simply requires paint, new lighting fixtures, and maybe a good scrubbing? That’s move-in ready.

Also, what is up with the master suite? They are practically required on any show on that channel. How much time are you really spending relaxing in your chaise lounge before a warm fire as you prepare for your jetted, double-person Jacuzzi tub with flat-screen TV? Does the steam shower (for two) with the extra six jets, spigots, rain head, and soothing music get used all that often? Do you and your significant other get up at the exact same time and thus engage in synchronized tooth-brushing and blow-drying, making double sinks a requirement? Because if not, then you don’t need all that crap in your bathroom! If you don’t have kids, then why not just go to a hotel for those amenities? You’ll probably get laid more away from home than you will in the spa bathroom during your daily toilette. And if you have kids, then (a) God bless you for having more time than I do to bathe in such water-wasting luxury and (b) I am pretty sure the double everything would work better in the bathroom the kids share – since you know, they WILL be getting ready to go to the same place at the same time every day for oh, at least 12 YEARS.

I think I am too practical for the modern home. I like walls. An open floor plan just means I can see the dust and clutter in every room all at once, instead of simply shutting a door and pretending it has disappeared. I like cozy kitchens with tables and chairs. In my house, the oven is a homing beacon. Turn it on and suddenly, the kitchen floor is the best place ever to play cars and it is the perfect time to pull all the magnetic letters off the fridge. Cooking turns into a competitive sport as I dodge and weave around the two ping pong balls I call my children. Sure, part of their interest in the sheer novelty of me cooking a meal, but still. If everyone on the Food Network can cook using little more than one oven and the counter space of the average butcher block, then so can I. I don’t, but I could.

But like most television, HGTV is fantasy. People build homes for the lives they want, not necessarily the lives they have. In my dream house, there would be a library and a soaking tub. My husband would request a man cave and a garage. But in real life, we just stick the books in the dining room and he watches the game after the kids go to bed. Even the tub would probably have rubber ducks and the garage would have a Barbie bike instead of a Harley. Lucky for us, that is both the life we want and the life we already have.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Off Like a Prom Dress

Ah prom. The memories. The smell of Jagermeister, the tacky dress I wore, the boy who ignored me when I didn’t put out, and the long, endless train ride home 12 hours after curfew. What a night it was, filled with crappy music, an overpriced limo ride, and dozens of pictures – some of which even now lurk on Facebook. The chance to experience prom is one every teenager should have – so it is too bad a school district in Mississippi voted to cancel it. Why? It is because a malevolent spirit lurks within the town psyche, imprinting its horrid visage on teens, turning their dreams to nightmares and ultimately killing them in vicious and violent ways? Nope. Will a giant snake be released and the Hellmouth opened leaving an evil politician to take hold of the town? Nope. Bombs in the basement, set by a psychopath with a Jack Nicholson fetish? Nope. A girl wants to wear a tux and take another girl as her date.


Let me get this straight. A girl wants to actually cover her body from head to toe in refined evening wear. She doesn’t want you to behold her bootyliciousness, titter at her ta-tas, or show how low the back of her dress can go. And this is wrong, why? Isn’t the sexualization of our youth a problem? Wouldn’t we rather teenagers who shun the pole for a nice pinstripe? Haven’t I seen umpteen pictures of famous, beautiful, and very sexy actresses rocking designer tuxedos and suits? Her school does not have a dress code of any kind, so I’m not entirely sure why they believe they can institute one just for prom. Formal wear required covers both tuxes and dresses, and considering the strappy, slit-to-here, backless, low-cut, and see-through outfits showcased on any episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, I can only imagine what the youth of today believes is appropriate evening attire. I’d rather my daughter dress like a penguin than a prostitute.

The next item of business is her choice of date. A girl wants to take another girl. Well, girl-on-girl action at least eliminates the problem of teen pregnancy, does it not? In a state with the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, that has to count for something. She wants to take a sophomore. Well, as long as the date is over 16, they are both over the legal age of consent in Mississippi. And this isn’t even about sex. Though popular media would have you believe otherwise, not all teenagers have sex on prom night. Joey and Pacey did it on a senior ski trip. Willow and Oz did it on graduation day. Chances are, they’ve probably already done it: in the backseat of a car, the great outdoors, or a bed when their parents weren’t home. I doubt they were planning on getting it on whilst on the dance floor.

So, in the face of watching two women slow dance to Halo or rock out to Single Ladies, prom was cancelled. In this era of giving every child a medal, win or lose, or making every child an honor student, pass or fail, this school decided it was once again better to equalize the field and cancel prom than let any one child dance outside the box. What is this, Footloose-ville? Well jump back, but I don’t think kids should get busted for same-sex bopping.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Da’ Plane! Da’ Plane!

While the kids were away, I decided to play and get some new body art. This is not my first foray into the wild side. I had and removed at least two belly button piercings while in college and at one point, had up to three piercings in each ear. I know! Can you imagine? Multiple earrings? Belly rings? The horror! Sigh. It all seems to tame now. There are moms at pre-school pick-up with nose rings, but when I was in college, that was bad ass.

This time ‘round, I was aiming for a tattoo. This is also not my first time to that particular rodeo, but my first tattoo looked like it was drawn on with a Sharpie. That’s what you get from going to some backwater place in the wasteland between Pittsburgh and the Ohio border. Luckily, it was on my right (upper) thigh, so not a whole lot of people saw it. A few years later, I decided to add on to it. I had it designed by the artist who went ahead and filled out my previous tattoo, gratis, so as to “not make my art look like shit.” Well, ok then. At least this shop was in a town with a name on it, even if it was Greensboro, North Carolina.

Fast forward a decade or so (and change) and I am ready for my next piece of art. My money was in my pocket, the pieces of my design were in my hand, and I went to a tattoo parlor. I was ready, willing, and able. And yet, no ink. Nothing. Why? Because, to quote Pretty Woman, “the women were mean to me.”

The tattoo parlor in question or specifically, the heavily tattooed, pierced, hennaed, and dyed red-head who greeted me treated like a drunken 19 year-old on spring break ten minutes before closing time. I had not just crawled out from a bridge underpass and into their door. I had even showered that day! I was sober. I am so far over the legal age of consent that it is actually sad, and yet, I was still treated like trash. So I left. I did what any other right thinking individual would do in this situation and I vented on Facebook. Luckily, I have lots of good friends who pointed me in the right direction and hopefully, sometime in the near future, I will have a new tattoo.

But until that time, let me share my three simple rules of tattooing.

1 – Location, location, location. Don’t let your dolphin turn into a whale because you put it smack dab over your uterus. Babies stretch boobs and tummies far beyond all reason and will. Shamu isn’t going to diet itself back down to Flipper proportions. Along those lines, mind the gaps. If you are intent on becoming a corporate lawyer, perhaps the neck tattoo directly above your tie clasp isn’t the best idea and moving it down to your sternum would be better. I don’t believe you should hide your tattoos – but like clothing, hairstyles, and shoes, a tattoo makes an impression. If it isn’t one you would want to make on a complete stranger, then make sure you can cover it when appropriate.

2 – Look before you leap. Impulse tattoos and STDs have much in common – they are easily acquired, often unfortunate, and damn hard to get rid of. I had a friend who picked the Chinese characters for her name off a chart. As Chinese is not a letter-to-character language, who knows what the hell she actually has tattooed on her arm, forever. A little foresight or self-restraint goes a long, long way. If you want it, you’ll still want it in a few days.

3 – Your body is your temple. Don’t tramp stamp it. Don’t get something because it looks cool. Cool is relative. As Heidi says, one day you’re in, the next day you’re out. While a pair of flaming lips may be the classic ode to a classic band, you’d feel awfully stupid if you were sporting a Milli-Vanilli pair of dreadlocks on your back. Much like prayer, if you don’t mean it, it doesn’t count. So, make it meaningful.

It’s art, it’s interpretive, and it’s beautiful. But be wary, better to go through life without than with Wino Forever.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Coming Out of the Closet

Yesterday, a friend sent me an e-mail telling me about a great sale at an online store. I surfed and then I shopped. Did I buy for my husband, a man whose jeans are actually falling off his body due to recent weight loss? Did I buy for my son, who is finally outgrowing his 18 month clothes (at 30 months)? Did I buy for myself – a woman desperately in need of anything resembling grown-up attire?


I bought for my daughter, who at five has more clothes than the rest of the family, combined. If I only did her laundry once per month, the only thing she would run out of is tights. My daughter has more princess dresses than I have regular dresses. She has many pairs of shoes and they all mix and match to her outfits perfectly. She has so many pairs of pajamas that they fill three dresser drawers. She has a rack just for purses. My child has a perfectly organized closet that is divided by type of clothes then subdivided into style, color, and degree of warmth.

If you had told me that I would give birth to this type of child. I would have laughed until I wet myself.

Would you like to know the irony of this situation? I dress like a 12 year old tomboy struggling with the onset of boobs – during the grunge era. Plus, I could fit all of my clothes into one large suitcase. (You never know when you might have to jam.)

All my t-shirts have sayings or logos on them. All of my outerwear comes from the men’s department. I have one pair of shoes for winter and one pair of shoes for summer – both black. I prefer winter colors. I cannot remember the last time I wore makeup and for me, leaving my hair down, completely straight and without any styling whatsoever, is being “fancy.” This is all I can manage, not owning a single styling product or appliance. I only had an extensive maternity wardrobe because my husband bought it all for me – or I would have spent nine months (times two) bulging out of a pair of ill-fitting sweatpants and an old VT sweatshirt. My bathing suit (singular) consists of a full-coverage tankini and a pair of board shorts that hits my knees. I am a sad excuse for a woman with a set of natural DDs (and even in that department, I aim for practical over prostitute.)

How did I get a child who believes that a tiara is perfect for any occasion? Obviously, God has a wicked sense of humor. But on top of that, my daughter has dueling grandmothers who shop competitively. It is not uncommon for my mother to show up with a dozen outfits for my daughter. She finds it harder to shop for my son, so he only gets a half dozen. Along the same lines, I do not send clothes when I send my children to visit their paternal grandparents. Instead, at the end of every season, they return home with bags filled with barely worn outfits (usually a size too large) that will be perfect for the following year. Throw in a husband who has never passed a children’s bargain rack without stopping and a fashionista was born. (Not to say my son is a slacker in the clothing department, but he likes to choose outfits based on animals or sports. He will request to be a Hokie, a hippo, an Eagle, or a fireman. As long as his pants fit, he’s good to go.)

So what is a mother to do? In this case, I indulge her –it’s like dressing an oversized and overly appreciative Barbie. I never pay full price, I try to buy a size larger when possible, and in the case of outerwear, I try to go neutral to allow for the successful handing down to her brother. How much longer will she happily wear whatever she is bought? How much longer until the arguments over brand begin? Who knows, maybe one day, she’ll help me pick out clothes and we’ll enjoy shopping together. It’s as likely as Tim Gunn stopping by to perform an intervention, but it could happen. But until the inevitable fighting begins (and considering her father’s very conservative taste in clothing, those fights are going to be epic), I will continue to stock her closet while my own sits empty and forlorn. If only one woman in this house is going to have fashion sense and personal style, it might as well be her, because as anyone will tell you, it sure as hell isn’t me.