Note to Readers: I first posted this yesterday, then unposted it, and now I am posting it again with this comment. It seems the more rambling and incoherent the post, the more entertaining it is. At least for me. (And I need to do this for me, because who knows if anyone else will ever read it. Except my husband.) At the same time, redundancy is bad and different from rambling, believe it or not, and there is too much redundancy in this post but oh well. It’s not like I’m getting paid to do this or anything. Yesterday what happened is I over-edited (this is what my smart husband calls making porridge or warm tea) so it’s not as funny as the rough draft. Which of course I didn’t save. But even if I did save it, I would probably over edit again and wreck it again because I don’t have anywhere to be today, no lunch dates with those friends from the olden days, no guest reader gigs or anything and I can sit here until 5pm if I need to. Remind me to tell you more later about the guest reading gigs and the inappropriate books we chose to read to the kindergarteners.
But yesterday’s rough draft went something like this: I went to this Chinese New Year party on Sunday, which totally coincidentally was Oscar night, and here I find myself trying to participate in conversations with people who are total Movie Mavens and art critics and stuff and so THANKFULLY the sister in law of the famous author hostess, both of whom probably could talk movies themselves for a good long time, said (to the movie maven) I love that sweater where did you get it? and the movie maven said On the world wide web and I said Oh I’ve heard of that place and she said You should go there sometime and I said I totally should go there because I hate shopping and people have said it’s a good place to shop. And I explained about how I also need to shop at places that do not accept returns because I am a chronic returner, and it’s a miracle I didn’t return the Lucky Brand jeans my husband bought me because I found the receipt and they were either 95 or 110 dollars and wow that was a lot to swallow. So long story short: I was proud of myself for being able to make small talk with the artsy film people and not have to admit that I have seen zero of any of the movies nominated, and I thought Argo was actually Fargo until the actual night of the awards.
So when my husband read the post (which was up for like 10 minutes last night, and I didn’t know it but he was downstairs reading it on his phone) I said It’s not that funny, is it? It’s fine, he said. The mom jeans part is not that funny, is it? But I really want to leave it in because I wanted to remember those good times at the office, and maybe help us all forget the negativity of the past, and he, who never tells me to cut anything, because he said the rambling is kind of weird and Dostoyevsky-esque and you definitely do not want to make porridge or warm tea, so just leave it all in, he told me, Yeah, you could probably cut the mom jeans part. So I’m like Shit! I’m totally taking that post down. And he says, No, just leave it. Move on (wave of arms), let it go. Come to bed. You’ll have a new post tomorrow. I’m just glad my Cheetos made it in the story.
And because I almost always listen to my husband, I took the post down and came to bed. (More on that in the next post, too. So tired I didn’t even take my bra off! Just unhooked it! Pregnancy memories of wearing bras to bed!)
So with that caveat, read on (or just check back later to see if the next post is here yet, because I already pretty much told you the whole thing ).
Last night’s Oscar Viewing Party was a transformational experience, which I seem to be having a lot of lately. Why transformational, you ask? Because when people who are your sorta fairly good friends and definitely great neighbors invite you into their home, and bring you under their gentle wing to watch the Oscars with them, and you soon discover that they in fact know and care even less about movies and film than you do, but merely want to gather with others to break bread and drink beer or wine, it is transformational. And life-affirming. Because earlier that day you found yourself at a non-Oscars party hanging out with locally famous writers, movie critics, filmmakers, poets and the like. And it’s a huge relief to find that you are now at a party that even though it’s supposed to be about the Oscars, really is more about eating delicious home-made chili and not knowing stuff.
It was as though my hosts were whispering the exact theme of this blog into my ear, which I will remind you of right now, in case you have forgotten, or haven’t yet made it over to the About page:
Think of this as a safe place to visit when you don’t want to be alone with your own sense of inadequacy.
It’s not like the neighbors deliberately called me up and said, “Hey, we’re having an Oscars Party. We heard you were at a party with semi-famous movie people and writers earlier today and that probably left you feeling a little inadequate, so please come over. This is a safe place for you to visit. You are not alone here.” But it is totally what they unknowingly did.
And if it’s not crystal clear, because so little of my writing is, I for sure don’t mean to imply that the hosts or the other people in attendance at the Oscar watching party were themselves at all inadequate, I mean we all shared a knowledge of the film industry that was totally inadequate, thereby preventing us from having a serious-minded discussion about any of it. I also do not at all mean to imply that the semi-famous but really delightful and down-to-earth people at the earlier Not-Oscars Chinese New Year party said or did anything that would make me feel inadequate. I bring my own sense of inadequacy to these things. And sometimes transform that mere “sense” into full-blown “proof” by trying to join in and participate in conversations about which I know nothing.
What I learned is that if you don’t know very many people and you want to fit in, you can just stay quiet and hopefully the conversation will turn to something you can contribute to, like the importance of good jeans.
ASIDE: [which means skip the next TWO paragraphs if you want to.] I need to interrupt myself here to give what the youngsters call a shout out to Ms. SB and Ms. CC who taught me about the importance of having at least one pair of jeans that make your butt look good. These lovely people (along with my husband and our mutual best friend Jo), genuinely care about my wardrobe. Not in a snarky way (okay maybe in a snarky way when I’m not there, but not at all ever to my face), and not in a judgy way (see previous parenthetical), but in a Let Us Stress the Importance of Not Ever Wearing MomJeans kind of way.
They taught me that no one wants and no one deserves to have that bad flat butt that MomJeans give you. You’re not vain for caring. The previously mentioned unsnarky fashionistas would never say anything directly critical about my wardrobe, but would sometimes just shop for me and say Oh we were at a thrift store and thought this looked like you, so we picked it up. In fact, Ms. CC and Ms. SB, who were actually very busy with real stuff like managing a multi-million dollar company, often ended up getting distracted from their important work because they had to do an intervention with me, sometimes of the fashion sort, but more often of the personal crisis sort, of which there were so very many because I was the mother of two preschoolers and had basically lost my mind. (Sorry. And thank you. And we did have some good times in that giant shared office, didn’t we? And some productive times, too. Let us not forget that.)
Why am I telling you all of this? Just to say that at the Not-Oscars Chinese New Year party, sure there was some movie talk, but the discussion in my little corner of the party (where the efficient people always park themselves, in the kitchen, next to the dumplings and wine) lingered perhaps even a bit longer on the importance of having a good pair of jeans, the particular fit, all that. There were even some confessions among the group of the exact where-and-when of purchasing the first pair that cost in the triple-digits.
Back to the official Oscars Party. It turned out that none of us in attendance had seen any of the important films, not a single one (well except Brave, and also that animated short about the guy trying to fly the paper airplane love letter, because the theater included it with the previews before Brave). Even better, some of us had never even heard of some of the films. So instead of having knowledgeable, informed discussions, we had the kind that I enjoy most. Irrelevant, sometimes hilarious, and ones that affirm that “it’s not just me” who knows nothing about ______________ (fill in the blank. In this particular case, of course, movies and Hollywood). And if you’re not even that interested in the red carpet shenanigans, you can also just choose to (very carefully because it cost $600!) peruse the Modernist Cuisine cookbook and hold up the interesting pictures and tell about induction cooktops, occasionally peppering a few comments in with the Oscar discussion:
Who is that little sprite running around with the tight bun and the microphone? . . . I thought she was, like, twelve until I saw her up close. . . . That tall woman standing next to her could eat her for a snack. . . . Look at this, they cut an oven in half to capture a photograph of what meat looks like when its braising . . .Why does Renee Zellweger’s face look so weird and scrunchy? . . . Too much Botox. . . . No, she’s always had that pinchy face. . . . You can use cheap IKEA pans and it works just as well as the copper for transmitting heat . . . Awesome! Ally loves IKEA . . .Who’s that (hotty)? . . . Jennifer Garner . . . Isn’t she married to Ben Affleck? . . . Oh yeah, she used to be in that spy show. . . . . . you use a blowtorch for all the browning . . . wouldn’t that taste bad though? . . . Okay I just googled the sprite . . . No idea who she is, but she is four feet eleven . . . high fives for being taller than the sprite . . .
So the moral of today’s story is that most people don’t really care if you don’t know anything. Only you care. So stop it. Stop it right now. Stop feeling inadequate about everything and please realize “It’s not just you.” It’s everybody! And that is why I’m writing this blog, and why I named it this: I thought it was just me. But it isn’t. So I hope we can all be nicer people to each other (and mainly to ourselves) now, and not feel bad for not knowing about movies, because you can always talk about jeans. Or something else you’re all interested in. Maybe how good the dumplings are, or how cute your hostess looks with her ‘new’ short bangs.
To recap, here are the specific take-aways from the latter part of the evening:
- Hang out with the kind of people who aren’t going to judge you for bringing Cheetos to the Oscars party even though they brought organic polenta lasagna. (Again, remember, they are not judging you. Only you are judging you. Stop it.) Also, don’t “borrow trouble from the future” by worrying that the hosts of the party whose kids are Read-A-Thon Rockstars are going to shame you for the fact that you haven’t been staying on top of the Recording of Minutes Read. Who knows, maybe they aren’t having such a great year themselves, even if both their children were Best In Show last year.
- Public service announcement to myself: If you want to stay up for anything beyond the opening show and the first award, you are going to need to limit yourself to just one glass of wine, not two. Fortunately the hosts Tivoed it and so maybe you can watch the whole thing later today. But only if they invite you. Don’t call up and just hint around.
- Tell the “age 8 and under” crew they need to go play downstairs again when the “We Saw Your Boobs” song starts. And if the 8-year-old (not mine, thankfully) greets her late-arriving mother with “I learned a new song tonight!” it’s best to just fess up right there and admit: “My Bad.”
- Don’t make fun of the gowns if they are hideous. (Actually, we didn’t notice any hideous ones this year, which is the only reason we didn’t make fun. You can totally make fun if you want.)
- Here is the most important one: don’t look down on people who have never heard of Seth McFarlane because maybe they have other contributions to make, like they knew William Shatner, and it’s not a competition. It’s okay to “not be familiar with” certain people even if it is someone very famous, like the Buddha. No one is judging you. They might judge your MomJeans or your hideous gown or severe bun though, so try not to get too defensive if you are picked for Ambush Makeover. More on that next time.