Monday, February 17, 2014

Cleanin' Out My Closet

My parents are considering moving. Right before I got married, they moved into a new home in a new state. Their new home was twice the size of their old one for half the number of people and they immediately filled it with a menagerie of dying and decrepit animals. It is basically a nursing home for dogs and my daughter weeps in fear and breaks out in allergic hives every single time we go visit.  

Many years and a major health scare later, they want to move. They have finally realized that the house is too big and that, in case of emergency, my being an hour away (without traffic) is a problem for them. The fact that they decided to move onto the same BLOCK as my family is sort of a problem for me, but one that I may never actually have to solve because long before my parents will pack the last cardboard box, they are going to put each other into matching pine ones.  

Neither one is able to handle change well. Both are pack rats, though of widely disparate items. What this means is that every time she throws out one of his items, he hunts through the trash for it and returns it to its proper place in the garage or basement. He is convinced that every car part, tool, lamp, and piece of furniture is “worth something.” Every time he convinces her to give away a candle, beach bag, or garage-sale toy, she immediately buys something new to replace it, convinced that she will need it as a gift for someone at a later point in time. The best part is that they both call me to yell about the other one. It is a cycle of insanity that cannot be broken.

This weekend, after discovering that they have started dismantling and moving random pieces of furniture for absolutely no reason, we went to visit. As always, my daughter cried then swelled. My son wandered, bored out of his mind, desperate to find the one pet in the house with the normal amount of fur, teeth, and body parts. My poor husband, practically high on the amount of allergy medication required to get through a house liberally covered in dust, cat, and dog fur, simply lugged whatever he was told and tried to stay out of the way.

I prepared for battle. My first war zone was the liquor cabinet. My parents have a beautiful one that came from my great-grandmother. There may not be quite enough liquor in it for the average gathering at my children’s school, but it would be enough for an average wedding. I decided it was high time to clear out the shelves. Obviously, we all know I don’t drink. However, I know of many a beer-n-beer, bazaar, and family fun night that could use a basket of booze to raffle off for a good cause. As I emptied shelf after shelf of top-shelf liquor, my dad stood next to me, like a grumpy old troll guarding his bridge, eyeing every bottle. My dad, the Irish cop, never drinks more than the occasional Coors Light while at home. Thus, it was a mystery why he had both Jameson and Johnny Walker (red and black label), Baileys, Beefeater, and Bacardi, and not one, but two bottles EACH of Absolute and Courvoisier. My parents, neither of whom have ever once had a glass of wine, possess a dozen bottles in a variety of shades. They had mini-bottles of wine from weddings so long ago, the kids produced from those unions are of drinking age. When I was little, I was fascinated by a little bottle that looked exactly like a grenade. This weekend, I convinced my dad to detonate it and the “white dessert wine” that issued forth was a toxic, clumpy brown. I did eventually liberate all but the wine and the Jameson, but I kept an eye on my dad as he packed up the bottles lest he try to pull a fast one and take half of them back.

During this battle over alcohol neither party would actually drink, my mother was gleeful. She was less so when I decided that the second battleground was going to be her “crap closet,” so named by me years ago because nothing in it is worth greater than ten dollars. I have spent years going through this closet every birthday and holiday, as she parcels out one precious, discount item at a time. This weekend, I took it all. No more board games “for the poor kids,” or board books “for when someone has a baby shower.” No more puzzles “in case I need to throw one in with a gift” and no more craft sets “for when the kids come to visit.” My town pool needs new games, my town library needs books, and my town summer rec program needs crafts. And while she hemmed and hawed over every single item, she did eventually give up everything including the ugly umbrella-shaped lamp shade, which strangely enough, turned out to be an ugly umbrella-shaped bird feeder.  

Once they realized I was not taking no for an answer when it came to taking the good stuff, they started bringing out the boxes of bad stuff. Did I want a mini-crepe maker? No. How ‘bought a cast iron griddle so encrusted that it might actually have been used as a murder weapon? No. A giant princess piggy bank with a missing crown? No. The miniature version, but with feathers? No. If the crap closet was the backroom at a Boscov’s, this was the discount section of the same, where everything is half off and broken. Eventually, I just started saying yes to everything. In the end, it is far better that this stuff winds up in my trash cans than their moving boxes.

So, while a few battles have been won, the war is far from over. Realtors still need to be procured in their state and heavily bribed in mine. There are still many closets, rooms, and drawers filled to the brim with things that are both worthless and priceless and two people who don’t know the difference. Plus, the ultimate showdown, the epic battle of wills between mother and father has yet to happen. This will be the deciding factor between good and evil and will be an apoplectic Apocalyptic war unlike any other. Oh yes my friends, the final death match is still to come ---- the garage.

Monday, February 3, 2014

50 Shades: The Musical!

I recently received an e-mail from my friend “Rorey” telling me about something absurd called Fifty Shades! The Musical. Within minutes, I had bought tickets for both of us. You see, Rorey and I have already watched soft-core porn together by, as we thought of it at the time, supporting local theater. Last year, she took me to see The Full Monty at a local playhouse filled with local actors. What this meant, in the context of this play, is that I saw the crab cake guy from the supermarket in all of his, um, glory. For the record, shellfish is officially off the menu.

Rorey and I did not know exactly what to expect from our second foray into dubious musical theater. I knew the premise was supposed to be a book club that discusses the novel in song. I expected a bit racy, and maybe even slightly off-color dialogue, but I did not expect an entire song titled, “Fill My Hole” that was stuffed with so many double entendres, they went right into triples. Sure, the lobby had a kiosk filled with pink puffy handcuffs, a grey tie (not the one from the cover) and lipstick that you would could not apply in public without being arrested for indecent exposure, but I thought it was all in jest. Or I thought that until two actors simulated sex on top of a member of the audience. I have never, ever in my life been so excited to be in the cheap seats and far away from the stage as at the very moment in my life.

Basically, the show went back and forth between the women discussing the book, and scenes from the book itself. The show was not subtle, but it was smart. Ana was dressed all in beige. She addressed her roommate by her full name, every single time. Jose was a flamenco dancer who never stopped taking her picture and hit on her piteously. There were hot guys wearing very little clothing and a woman in little more than a corset and garters who acted as Ana’s Inner Goddess. And let me tell you, when the first hot guy came out shirtless, I was really looking forward to meeting Christian. And that is where the show was brilliant.

Christian Grey, the supposed hottest guy on the planet was played by a man who could have been Chris Farley’s long-lost twin brother. He belly hung ponderously over his pants, his shirt was too tight, his line readings were a marvel of Shatner-esque proportions, and he didn’t dance so much as flit and flitter about the stage. During one song, he donned a Borat-like swimsuit in ruby red and proceeded to prance and pounce around the stage like a drunken uncle at a wedding. It brought to mind the infamous Chris Farley/Patrick Swayze SNL sketch from the 80s where the two played Chippendales dancers. He was gloriously absurd, so anti-Christian that you were helpless to do anything but laugh. A lot. The show also threw in fantastic tributes to The Phantom of the Opera, The Mikado, Les Miserables, and in moment so bizarre that I will never, ever be able to look at light sabers the same way again, Star Wars. It also managed to skewer the basic premise of the novel over and over with Ana endlessly taking about freedom and Christian endlessly talking about fisting. Fisting. Fisting. Fisting. They used that word so much, it actually ceased to have any meaning at all.  

The show is a touring production (I included the link) and I highly suggest that you go see it. Grab your best girlfriends, specifically the ones you can talk dirty with (because the other ones may actually die of shame) and make it a girl’s night out. There is one section of the show that is customized by region and while my Christian sang “I could eat you like a cheesesteak,” yours will probably sing about something different that manages to be both wildly inappropriate but also completely hysterical at the exact same time – exactly like the book!