Friday, February 24, 2012

Mother Teresa Loved the F-bomb Too.

In a past life I was a sailor. At the very least, a longshoreman. There is no other excuse for my impressive knowledge of profanity. When it comes to being a potty mouth, I got mad skill. Unfortunately, so does my not-quite 4 year old son, The Midget. It seems that the potty mouth gene does not skip a generation but is passed on with a heightened intensity. Two years ago, I had one of those Oprah ah-ha moments and deemed it was time to change. I still have potty mouth tendencies, but comparatively speaking, I’m basically in recovery. Yes, I have the occasional slip with some of the lighter four-letter wonders, but isn’t that to be expected of a long-time violator? And in fits of hostility I’m still known to fly the f-bomb like a flag of war but road rage and the stupidity of mankind often does that to a gal. I’m quite certain that even Mother Teresa threw about some heavy ones when faced with the DMV or snarled in a Calcutta traffic jam. I’m not justifying my failures; I’m simply admitting that I am occasionally powerless against them.

Perhaps it’s part of the recovery process but more likely, it’s really just a sure sign of entering the geriatric era - I am a mere weeks away from the Big One- regardless, I’ve recently developed intolerance towards foul language. I know! I was equally shocked. It started while reading an assortment of parent-centric blogs. Every time I’d see a hostile parent lament their daily deliberations with a nice dose of profanity, my teeth would clench, my shoulders tighten and a judgment would take over me. Then it moved on to the Turk. While my very traditional husband despises profanity in his native tongue, he drops the f-bomb and a few choice bits of English profanity like a rock star. With every heavily accented f-bomb that flies from his lips, my face scrunches up like a white, female, Fred Sanford and I feel those tingles I’ve come to associate with the birth of yet another gray hair that Miss Clairol and I will be forced to battle. I point to the child – give the wide-eye- pursed -lipped look- point to the child again – offer bugged out eyes –point to child – give the what-are-you-thinking look until The Turk nods in understanding. Generally this takes 10 to 15 minutes as communication is not generally our forte. But it’s worth it to quell my mind full of horrific visions of my darling son reporting to his preschool class that he’d had a “f***ing great weekend.”

My cause for alarm is legitimate. The Midget is an uncanny sponge. He was a mere 2 years old and playing with his Hot Wheels when, at what appeared to be a crucial moment in the delivery of a truckload of hot rods, a flood of class A potty words spewed out of his tiny little toddler mouth, each word tainted nicely with a thick Turkish accent – just like his father’s.

While I’d like to let the world believe that The Turk is solely responsible for the corruption of our son from innocent Midget into 3 foot trash talker, I’m not completely blameless. My afore mentioned Oprah moment played out something like this:
                - A hairy moron in a tow truck forced me into an unfortunate traffic pattern                                      during a Philadelphia rush hour.
                - In retaliation, I lobbed a beautifully crafted series of profanity toward his open window.
               - That same series of profanity was accurately recreated in a sweet toddler voice with a hint of Midwestern twang, directly from the backseat.

That was the moment that led me to get clean. Ok, first that moment led me to swap to Turkish profanity but The Midget soon demonstrated a fluency and nearly sent the Turk’s mother into cardiac arrest during a Skype visit. So I eventually deemed it in the best interest of my child to go clean - bilingually. Unfortunately, I think my change of heart came a bit too late for The Midget. By the time he was 3 he’d already solidified ‘damn’ as his word of choice.

Sitting at a restaurant, “I need some more damn wings.”
In the potty, “Can someone come and wipe my damn butt.”
Playing in the sandbox, “I can’t find a damn shovel.”
In the car, “Why did that damn light turn red?”

I tried to explain that we don’t use that word. I tried to make it unsavory. I tried to sway him to the straight path but so far he isn’t budging. “But Mom, I like to say damn. It’s fun to say and it’s what I mean so I will keep saying it.” Were I a young mom, I might see the humor in this or I might be capable of ignoring this variety of pediatric profanity. But alas, as we’ve established above, I’ve developed an old person aversion to foul language and I must find a way to unsow the seeds I've previously sown. I must remain clean in the hopes that my child will follow my lead.

Even though like a reformed smoker, I have an intense aversion to my former vice, I still struggle with the daily calling. It’s hard to say ‘darn’ when your heart means ‘damn’. It’s not satisfying to say ‘forget it’ when your soul is beating with a f-bomb. It’s hard to walk away from something that was such a part of you but if Betty Ford can do it, so can I. And soon, I well lead my whole damn family to a profanity-free life as well. Ah…who the hell am I kidding?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Doctor Is In...

It's time for the truth.  Alert the tabloids.  Notify TMZ.  Call the Enquirer because inquiring minds want to know.  The truth is...I have been deeply entrenched in an affair with Dr. Mehmet Oz for the past two months.  Prior to making a decision to take things to the next level we might have been best categorized as on-again-off-again.  Before this new commitment to my darling Mehmet, my love was on the periphery - I liked what he had to say, his books were interesting, but he was a little too needy and time consuming for my taste.  I do have a husband and child to care for after all.  Yes, my husband knows about Dr. Oz and I and he’s been able to turn a blind eye.   For this I am grateful.  I think it’s because I’ve repeatedly assured him that my attraction to Mehmet Oz stems from the simple fact that as a fellow Turk, he bears a striking resemblance to my own beloved Turk (albeit a much older version).  Clearly, once you go Ottoman, you never go back.

This is not my first relationship with a famed man of medicine.  Before Mehmet, I was in what I had hoped would be a long-term relationship with Dr. Agatston of South Beach fame and years before that I was involved  in a brief but highly volatile relationship with Dr. Atkins.   I had to break things off with Dr. Agatston when his demands about stripping refined-sugar from my life long-term became a bit too much to bear.   Dr. Adkins and I split up over a constipation issue.  That’s all I can say on that based on a gag order.  Due to my past relationship failures with iconic docs, I was a bit hesitant to jump into something committed with Dr. Oz.   In the interim between Dr. Agatston and Mehmet, I tested the waters with non-medically minded men through  rebound relationships with Michael Pollan – he wooed me with Food Rules until I found his rules too numerous to live by- and Mark Bittman Martha Stewart introduced me to Mark and while I found him to be fascinating and full of possibility, I felt Martha’s steely glares of disapproval constantly hung over our relationship thus bringing it to a premature demise. 

What is the common thread running through each of these relationships?  The shared handsome-healthy-old-guy vibe (ok, maybe not Dr. Atkins but as noted previously, our relationship had issues)?   The powerful, knowledgeable professional link?  No.  Each of these men were allowed entry into my life simply with the promise of assisting me in my constant quest to downsize my backside while fighting bad genes and keeping my heart healthy.  Each of them had a stance and to each of them I listened – cut out carbs, cut out sugar, cut out processed foods, eat local, eat vegan, eat meat, eat no meat, only whole grains, no whole grains and on and on went their passionate promises.  Each assured me that theirs was the answer to longevity, health and beauty.  What ample gal wouldn’t be enticed?  But in the end, none had the staying power to hold on to me long-term. 

So why should Dr. Oz be different?  I guess because I believe his angle just might be the right one.  I can buy into his theories because he offers groovy little science experiments to back them up.  He uses logic and science rather than judgments.  He's got an explanation for everything and lest we forget, he is one sexy beast with a way with the ladies, thankfully I’m not the jealous type.  I’m impressed by the way in which he seemingly understands what it’s like to be an exhausted mom pushing 40, as well as he understands what it’s like to be a successful heart surgeon – (or at least the writers on his show understand that).  Mehmet doesn’t simply want us to lose weight, he wants us to live better and feel better but he has the good sense to still give credence to the occasional Mojito and a moderately sized, low sugar, fruit filled dessert.  

So as I enter month 3 and eat my Dr. Oz prescribed oatmeal each morning, sprinkled with his suggest flax and chia seeds before downing my handful of Mehmet-suggested supplements and packing my bland almonds for a mid-morning snack, I’m not sure if I’m any thinner or if I look any younger, but I have faith in our union.  I’m hopeful that one day all of the components I’ve been adding one by one will magically conform into a super power that will transform me from a  tired looking 39 ¾ year old mom into a 22 year old Victoria’s Secret model.   Or maybe I’ll just be a little less tired and look a bit better in my Hanes Her Ways.  Until then, Mehmet and I will continue our forbidden relationship, skipping down the banks of the Bosphorus,  lounging on the shores of the Aegean, meandering into the Mediterranean whispering sweet recipes and giggling about fiber with one another in accented Turkish….ahhhhh yes… Mehmet, seni seviyorum.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Enter the Old Dudes...

I’ve suddenly developed a thing for old dudes. I guess Ron Paul is probably to blame. No, don't be dirty, it's not that kind of thing. I’ve not morphed into a geriatric predator nor do I see myself anytime soon riding off into the sunset clutching the midsection of my 95-year-old love toy on the back of his scooter, his last remaining hair wafting in the breeze as we head towards a romantic 4:00 dinner at the Senior Center. In reality, I don’t see this happening even as I become more and more comfortable with this whole aging process and the grooves begin to set in on my AARP card. I’ve long told the Turk – who is a whopping 2 years my junior – coo coo cachou Mrs. Robinson- that when he kicks it, I have every intention of marrying some hot young thing of Latino descent with little to no grasp of the English language and a set of rock hard abs. How can I be sure Rico will be interested in a geriatric love toy of his own? I know my way through the immigration process backwards and forwards and I intend to look freaking awesome rocking a caftan.

Anyhoo, back to the old dudes. It seems to be slowly coming to my attention that a slew of those whom I have long considered to be incredibly influential in my professional life, are suddenly old. It began last week with some smug NPR announcer informing me that composer/genius Phillip Glass was celebrating his 75th birthday. 75? How could that be? We’d only seen each other a scant 15 or so years ago and he seemed so frisky and young. Let me offer a bit of background on our relationship. Prior to moving to Philadelphia for graduate school, I’d never heard of Phillip Glass, but shortly after arriving in my new hometown I was hired to work on my first professional theatre production, a portion of which was a one-act called Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread. The play was a hilarious mockery of the genius’ repetitive style by playwright David Ives. The mockery coupled with a few lessons from my dear friend and sound designer E.T., got me interested in the man, the myth, the legend and I started to dive into all things Phillip Glass, beginning with Einstein on the Beach before eventually getting hooked on my all time fav, Koyaanisqatsi .

Fast forward one year: I’d moved up in my fledgling costume design career from assistant #7 sewing snaps, to contract work on a large production of a play called Vilna’s Got a Golem. My job was to make the golem (a giant mud man from Jewish folklore). As I poured over my mud man in a backstage costume shop, a crazy haired may in tragically hip glasses happened in, pulled up a stool and sipped a gin and tonic as we chatted about golems, fake mud, Philadelphia sports, my childhood in Iowa and our mutual distain toward clowns. Somewhere between fake mud and Iowa – he knew far more about fake mud- my new friend Phil, who mentioned he was soon to perform on an adjacent stage, briefly excused himself only to return with a tasty bit of gin goodness for me as well. Phil and I gabbed and giggled until a hostile little woman in a headset dragged him away. It wasn’t until an hour later as my gin-filled bladder was in desperate need of the ladies room, that I noticed a nameplate hanging on the door of the room my new friend temporarily called home –

Dressing room 5: Phillip Glass. 

My oblivion was painful. Instead of probing my new obsession with questions about working with David Bowie or sussing out the meaning behind phrasing in Koyaanisqatsi, I was wowing him with stories of showing cattle, giant butter cows and the ease at which a cow-pie flies – and that was before he rolled in with the gin. For you young whipper-snappers out there shocked by the fact that I had no idea of Phil’s true identity – let me remind you, I am old and this was P.G. – Pre-Google- and it would be another 3 years before I would even get an email address.

I never saw Phil again after that. My golem and I spent the rest of the night backstage alone but I’ve thought of Phil often and have introduced many, many students to the beauty of his music. He's provided the backdrop for countless hours of my life and provided the inspiration behind multiple creative endeavors. I’m quite certain that when Phil receives my birthday card, he’ll remember me -the adorably folksy gal full of cow-pie tales with the giant mud-man from the mid ‘90’s. I’m not known for getting preachy – getting jiggy with it yes, but preachy, not so much – but I must say, if you are not familiar with the work of Phillip Glass, you need to be – here, go to his website and listen for free. Yes, free – hey, a man who shares his gin is a man who understands the importance of giving to the people. 

After the harsh blow of learning that Phillip Glass was now officially an old dude, a few days later that same smug NPR announcer informed me that another idol, ground-breaking writer Gay Talese was turning 80. As if that wasn’t enough, Duff Brenna another writer I idolize was turning 70. And so it went, suddenly my life was filling up with old dudes. In retrospect, I guess there were clues. In the past two months I’d inexplicably picked up two books about old dudes trying to make sense of becoming an old dude - including one by my mentor and expat guru Thomas Kennedy -Last Night My Bed a Boat of Whiskey Going Down. Both books were utter page turners and as I finished them, I was hungry for more. I was developing an obsession for the tales of old dudes as well as a love of old dudes themselves, so the recent birthday announcements calling to mind other roles of old dudes in my life was only to be expected. I assume this is how it happens as one pushes the big 4-0, not only do you realize that you’re old, but those around you are old as well.

One thing is for certain, if these guys are still all going strong at 70 and 80 years old, I’m just a spring chicken with years to go! Long live the old dudes!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

“Before there was MTV, there was Soul Train.”- Quincy Jones


1979 – My  grandma’s den - between the enormous white vinyl ottoman and black herringbone love-seat, I sat poised and alert awaiting that deep and mellow voice – “Sooooooooooooouuuuuuuullll Train” as an amazingly groovy day-glo train chugged and steamed onto the screen.  I was stuck in small town Iowa, but I was about to take “The hippest trip in America.”  As the steam cleared and the train left the station, Don Cornelius hit the scene surrounded by some of the widest bell-bottoms and highest afros ever witnessed by the free world.  And then the groove began.   I watched Bandstand at home with my mom on many Saturday afternoons but there was something about Soul Train, in my humble, elementary school opinion, which was far more enticing.  A 2-foot afro was so much cooler than stringy hair hanging to one’s butt and then there was the dancing.  Bandstand was fine with a little bump and sway, but Soul Train was where I really learned to groove.   Shalamar, Gloria Gaynor,  Teena Marie – this was where I cut my teeth.  Atop the red shag carpet in my Granimals, watching my new idols shaking their groove thangs in time with a funky beat, I learned all I would need to be a smashing success at many gay bars in years to come.

The news of Don Cornelius’ death today really sent me spinning and realizing just what an important role in my development Soul Train played.   Soul Train was my thing, something I could only watch on the down-low at my grandma’s house as she was the only one with cable.  Soul Train showed me that there was great music out there and that is was not only acceptable, but mandatory to shake that booty.  Soul Train confirmed all of my childhood suspicions that I had been returned to the wrong geographical location following an alien abduction.  On the outside I was a chubby little pigtailed white kid in Iowa, but inside I was had an afro to the ceiling and the most gorgeous orange velvet pantsuit and sassy red platforms you ever laid eyes on.  In my adult years, I’ve continued on the path Soul Train carved out for me.  Spending 14 years in Philadelphia, the city of soul where even the Shop Rite pipes in R&B, Funk and Soul for your grocery shopping pleasure, my groove just continued to percolate.  I’ve never owned a car without classic Marvin in the CD player.  I’ve never taught a class that didn’t utilize a little P-Funk and I’ve never passed an opportunity to sashay down a soul train. 

Don, you are credited for crossing so many boundaries on so many levels and I thank you.  Just let the record state that I intend to ride the Soul Train for the rest of my life and maybe, just maybe, I will find my orange velvet pantsuit yet.  

“We wish you love, peace and soul.”