Thursday, July 14, 2011

Play That Funky Music, Peanut

Okay, I've got a name from the past for you:

Rob Van Winkle.

Do you remember that guy? Sounds familiar, right? Was he from your high school? Your first place of employment?


That's "Vanilla Ice" to most of us out here. And recently, I've become intimately acquainted with him. Oh, come on now: NOT "intimately" intimately. Let's just say that I've heard "Ice Ice Baby" more times in the past couple of months, than I've cared to hear it in a lifetime. You see, my nine-year-old daughter is totally obsessed with him.

She spent the better part of the year crushing on Ghengis Khan - I've got a T-Shirt, a serving tray, and a whole bunch of Mongloian gear to prove it - but she's over him now. She's kicked that poor historical tyrant to the curb. At this point, it's all about Rob - Er, Vanilla. As a matter of fact, I can hear her singing into a microphone in her room, right now:

All right now stop! Collaborate and listen!
Ice is back with a brand new invention.
Something. Grabs a hold of me tightly
Fly like a harpoon daily and nightly.
Will it ever stop?
I don't know!
Turn off the lights - and I'll glow!
To the extreme I rock the mic like a vandal:
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle...

I just wrote that from memory: Are you terrified, yet? It's just that I've heard the stinkin' song a million times since around March - and I could probably win a karaoke contest with it at this point... Just to add insult to injury, the current "Mr. Popper's Penguins" movie used the damned song for the credits. We went with some friends to see it last week, and Peanut had such an adoring look on her face (not to mention the energetic lip-sync that she was performing) that I could feel a blush steal up my neck. Good thing it was dark in that theater.

Here's how every day begins:

Peanut comes down the stairs, hair adorably tousled from sleep. She plants herself on the couch and somehow manages to liberate the remote from wherever it has been seated. Away goes the Channel 7 Morning News and up next is...

"Play That Funky Music White Boy"!

Leaving me to ponder: Why on earth was the DVR invented?

Only, so it's not the original version. It's the one with circa 1994-ish Vanilla Ice gyrating around the stage and rapping about...well, something. He is dressed in a super-'90's white outfit. His hair is so tall and stiff - think Aquanet, people! - that he could probably support my townhome community with it:
Peanut thinks it is a work of art.

Did you know that he likes Key lime Pie? Well, he does.

He is on some kind of house building show now. And he's covered in tattoos -- but he's still turning out the tunes. And Peanut would probably follow him to the ends of the earth.

Good Lord: What are the teen years going to be like???

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thanks A Lot Mr. Ben-Stinkin'-Nye

One of the first makeup kits that I ever bought was from Ben Nye. He’s the guy who did the makeup for the folks in Gone With the Wind, among other Silver Screen masterpieces.

He died in 1986, but his company lives on. The pots of color, brushes, and sponges were required purchase for a show that I was cast in – and it was expensive stuff, for a kid who had to use her allowance to buy it. How I loved that kit! I would sit in my bedroom and turn my face into anything you can imagine: inanimate objects, mysterious strangers, famous people – I can’t tell you how many times I applied a mole to my cheek and used a breathy voice to sing “Happy. Birth. Day. Mr. Presi. Dent” into the full-length mirror attached to my bedroom door. Once I made my face into a human doily, with the middle of it at the tip of my nose. Wait! Forget I told you that part, because it’s sort of embarrassing… TMI, and all that…

By the time I started taking Theater Arts classes at the University, I had amassed quite a collection. However, I still possessed that original kit - until someone stole it out of the locker room while I was taking a shower after a college step aerobics class. Who would want another person's used theater makeup??? Maybe she was after the plastic pink Caboodle container – you know all us girls rocked those in the ‘90’s.

What a nasty surprise for Ms. Stickyfingers, when she found pots of cake makeup and greasy clown white, instead of Clinique or Estée Lauder! Hopefully she at least knew how to put it to good use – and I don’t mean tossing my extensive palette in the dumpster next to her sorority house…

Wow do I feel better after reliving that heartbreaking memory of loss.

Okay, on with the story.

For years I was the Go-To Girl for wrinkles. Yes, wrinkles. Let me tell you: I was awesome at turning young faces into old faces. Even as a teenager, I knew how to transform a third grader into a fifty-three year old, a teenager into a grandparent. If you were hoofing it up as Aunt Polly, or taking a spin as Arvide Abernathy in Guys and Dolls - playing anyone older than yourself, really - you probably would’ve wanted to give me a ringy-ding-ding so that I could sit you down and line you up.

Anyway, I was inclined to use my mad age progression skills to transform my own mug when I was around sixteen. I was playing the role of a middle-aged woman in a community theater production. Scrunching my face into fine, shrarpei-like condition, I found all my future creases – applying dark pencil, then highlights – first on a smooth forehead, then under eyes where crows had yet to tread. Perfect. I looked perfect.

Uh, yeeeaaaaaahhh. So, I found a photo of myself in that makeup recently and you know what? It looks just like me! Not me then, but:


And I was good back then, dammit! Too good. I wish that all those hours of instruction could have taught me how to conceal the lines that I had so gleefully attached to my own face, before nature had attached them for me!

Sometimes being good at something isn’t, well, all that great.

I do make a delectable meatloaf, though, and I don’t know how that can possibly come back to bite me…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Elephant Never Forgets

Just before Christmas, Peanut's Nonnie and Auntie took her to Disneyland. She enjoyed the first day very much, but on the morning of the second day she vomited right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. They hadn't even made it to the statue of Walt and Mickey, and they had to turn around and go back to the hotel. The next couple of days were spent trying to find a gift shop that sold applesauce and figuring out if either of them had extra pajamas for my sickly eight- year-old to borrow. I almost jumped on an airplane to rescue her, but realized that she was with the next-best-thing-to-Mom and relaxed. Well, a little bit. Okay, I called around every 45 minutes or so. Don't judge.

Peanut was actually pretty all right about the whole experience, except for one thing: She didn't get to ride on Dumbo.

Tossing her cookies at the Happiest Place on Earth didn't bother her so much. Nonnie having to spend hours watching cartoons at HoJo's - not a horrible thing. No Dumbo = Catastrophic Event Probably Leading to Needing Therapy in the Future.

For weeks after she returned, she would lay in bed until way past bedtime, worrying that she had somehow offended the flying elephant by not waiting in line for an hour to visit him. "We'll go again someday, right Mom?" She would ask. I would climb the stairs to retire for the evening, and she'd still be up. "Maybe I should ride him first the next time we go to Disneyland."

So, here's the really, really weird part: I had the exact same experience when I was eight, like Peanut. No kidding. I didn't get to ride Dumbo and it blew. my. mind.

My mother was dating my stepfather and in an attempt to woo her, he flew my mom, my five-year-old brother and me to Orange County for a short overnighter - in his airplane. What young, single mother wouldn't be impressed by that, I ask you? Long story marginally short: I didn't get to ride Dumbo and I spend the rest of the evening (no, really it was more like the rest of my life) sobbing in distress. Worried that I might never, ever get the chance to see him again. Of course, I felt compelled to share this story with my mournful child.

My daughter and I are emotional hoarders. I don't mean that we hoard because we are emotional (although, truth be told, that may also be an issue), I mean that we hoard actual emotions: memories, events, words - as tangible as the shoe boxes full of limitless, useless, eclectic items in your Aunt Bertha's closets, that she will really need someday. The memory- mind- movies loop in our brains and weigh us down with as much anxiety as all the Splenda packets, broken shoelaces, and threadbare beach towels that you could collect in a lifetime.

When my husband and I decided to take Peanut and Bean to visit Mickey Mouse and his crew in February, it was the first ride on our list. However, we made it through the first day and neglected to visit the flying elephant.

The boys went back to the hotel when it got dark, and Peanut and I were at the neighboring themepark, California Adventure. We were trying to watch the new water-light show, but we had horrible seats. I heard a voice in my ear, trying to sound nonchalant, "Heya, Mom? Are you bored?" I answered honestly, that I was done with seeing the backside of water. "How about we, uh, go to the Dumbo ride?" Sounds like a good idea, right? It would have been, except that Disney was closing in ELEVEN MINUTES.

Me: I don't think we can get to Dumbo before the park closes.
Peanut: Yes, yes we can. We'll run fast.
Me: I haven't been able to run fast in years.
Peanut: Come on, Mom, think of the exercise.
Me: I don't want any exercise, I'm on vacation. I just want one of those giant corndogs and a Mickey-shaped ice cream sandwich.
Peanut: We have to do this, Mom, both of us! We need to catch up on Dumbo or we'll regret it forever!


By some incredible miracle, I managed to get the lead out and run as fast as a third grader: past the ticket booth, past Main Street U.S.A. - Hi, Walt! Bye, Walt! - and under Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

We got the last two boarding passes for that damned ride. I am not kidding. We were the last two passengers for the evening.

It was easily 45 degrees, but we were both sweating from our unexpected workout. My heart was pounding from too many years and not enough regular jogging. But we made it. We made it and soon we were in the air.

I could see above the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The top of the Matterhorn. I could hear the music from the carousel below. When I looked at my daughter's face, I knew that this had lifted a weight from her shoulders. Her hair blew behind her and her missing-tooth-grin was reflecting the lights around us as we circled the evening sky.

That very moment made it on my shortlist of most wonderful moments, ever.

When we exited the ride, we walked, lighthearted, toward our hotel.

"Mom?" I looked down into my mini-twin's face to see what she wanted.

"We didn't get to ride Peter Pan."

Monday, January 10, 2011

I Should Have Been a Cosby Kid

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Huxtable:

There were certain things that I knew weren't possible. For example, I was reasonably sure that I couldn't ever become African-American. Even in this age of extreme science and plastic surgery, I was pretty sure I was stuck in my own pinkishly white skin.

But I really, really wanted one of those fabulous sweaters. I also wanted my family to engage in a musical number on our stairs. Wait - we didn't have stairs. Okay, I wanted stairs, too.

The ability to spout adorable one-liners and wrap up any possible family issues in between commercial breaks appealed to me. Whenever I was put on the spot, I just heard a dial-tone between my ears. I wasn't ever able to think of something precocious or cute to deliver in a sassy way.

I wanted giant bangs. I tried, but they never quite looked like Denise or Vanessa's.

Occasionally, I came close:
*Note the fabulous sweater and socks-with-flats.

I wished that my dad would dance with a beatific look on his face, to a song featuring wind instruments.

I have also always loved Jello Pudding.

Not that I didn't have a monster crush on Alex Keaton, or anything. I also had posters of Kirk Cameron on my wall - to this day, I remember that he kept his "...awesome bod by staying on the Pritikin Diet" (whatever the heck that is). But I wanted to be a Huxtable.

Living in that all-girls school with this bunch:

probably would have been a close second.

I still love watching television, but I'm mostly hooked on reality shows these days. I can think of a few that I'd like to be on - I would love for a couple of fashion savvy designers to hand me a bunch of money to redo my wardrobe! I'd buy whatever clothes they wanted me to for a free trip and a shopping spree! But that's different. Those are shows that you would be on - not live in.

I wanted to live in that house in Brooklyn, with the pink doors and Clair's dried flower arrangements.

And I wanted one of these:

October 16th, 1985

Hi! My favorite television show is (are) the cosby show, Family ties, silver spoons, small wonder, and I like Different strokes. I like the family programs. I like to see what they do and how they solve tough situations. I like to get involved and watch it every week (day) I like to see what they do next, like a comic. I like funny shows mostly, and scary shows. I like detective shows alot too! I like reading better, especially about Ramona Quimby, I've read "Ramona and her mother," "Ramona and her father, " "Beezus and Ramona" "Ramona the pest" and I'm reading "Ramona for ever". I'm going to start reading all of Henry Huggins books because sometimes he is in some of, most of Ramona's books.

The Quimby's should be a television show.

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