Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our Closets, Our Selves

Back in the '70s, awareness of our own bodies seemed to be the prerequisite for self-knowledge. (Anyone else remember reading Our Bodies Our Selves and trying to find her cervix using a hand mirror?) At other times, the key-du-jour was spirituality, or feng shui, or knowing what color your parachute was. But I think the real secret is examining our closets.

I share a decent-sized one with my husband, and it's not a total mess, but it does say something about the chaos of my life. There are a few choice outfits, tons of clothes that sort-of-fit-but-aren't-that-flattering, a few slightly stained or pilled items, and those random piles that don't belong anywhere (the sweater I meant to fix, the jeans that need hemming, the workout clothes that don't have a drawer because I use them so rarely). And this economy has spawned a number of helpful articles with titles like "Go Shopping In Your Closet!", which makes me think, geez, who'd want to shop in this dump?, so I know I need to do some major overhauling. Time for a closet purge again, and even though starting isn't fun, it does make me feel lighter and cleaner (but don't worry, I won't extend the purge metaphor any further).

And it got me thinking about closets as a representation of our personalities. I imagine my analytical engineer neighbor having a perfectly neat closet with all the shirts facing the same direction, and my fashionista girlfriend might have a cool sections grouped by style and an artistic display of accessories. Mine is slightly scattered and chaotic, lots of excess bogging it down, but very colorful (what can I say, I like fuschia!), so I want to keep the cheerful creativity and get a bit more orderly, just like in my life. (My husband once took a seminar that was an offshoot of EST or Lifespring or one of those all-day-no-bathroom-break-marathons, and the one piece of advice he still remembers was that when you're feeling like your life is out of control, start by cleaning out your car. The teacher was a man - I'll bet a woman would've recommended cleaning a closet!)

Closets are already a useful metaphor, being a place to store skeletons, or out of which to come, or into which to stuff shameful secrets, so it makes sense that they could tell us a great deal about ourselves. I'm going to clean out my closet so that it says 'Unique and creative but uncluttered and on top of things', and I can achieve useful self knowledge without ever having to look at my cervix again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama's A Better Parent Than I Am, Too!

I just read yet another gushing article about the new first family, where Barack & Michelle explained that they didn't want their daughters to become spoiled, so they would continue the same rules they'd had in Chicago. The girls had to make their own beds, they'd be cleaning up after the dog about to join them, and they'd stick to their usual morning routine, where both girls set their alarms, woke themselves up and got ready for school on their own (presumably cooking their own organic hot cereal and ironing their own impeccable private school uniforms). And of course television watching and junk food would be strictly limited.

Great - both Obamas already make me feel like an unintelligent failure with no fashion sense. Now I find out they're infinitely superior as parents, too. How many of us even know a 7-year-old who can figure out how to set an alarm, get herself up and dressed, all without help? My kids are old enough to dress themselves, of course, but like most normal kids, they need a bit of nudging along the way. In fact, the 15-year-old could sleep through five different alarm clocks and a 21-gun salute (so we've trained the dog to jump on the bed and lick his face until he gets up). And sure, they have chores, and I try to limit junk food, but like most parents, or so I thought, I frequently cave in ("Mom, I have to study for spanish, could you pack me a lunch?" " I'm starving and we're late for hebrew school, could we just grab some pizza?" "It's too dark out to pick up dog poop, and it's Ben's turn anyhow!") I blamed my lack of consistency on my crazy schedule - I mean, I work weird hours, I have lots of pressure, raising perfect kids isn't even possible for my stay-home-mom friends. But now we have Michelle Obama, who's always worked and had a fabulous career, but she's apparently never been too busy or stressed to make her girls stick to rules and to discipline them firmly yet lovingly, so that they've turned into perfect, adorable young ladies who make the rest of us look bad.

What makes it worse is that I've spent my entire life feeling superior to the White House inhabitants. The first president I remember thoroughly was Nixon, whom my liberal parents raised us to believe was the devil incarnate, and it was easy to feel smarter than a crook who talked to portraits of dead past presidents. I adored Betty Ford for her honesty about her addictions, but I could still feel a bit smug since (at 15) I didn't have a problem with painkillers, and of course we all imitated Chevy Chase imitating Gerald Ford tripping. In college I could feel superior to the Carters with their down-home mannerisms and redneck brother (remember Billy Beer?), and I looked down my nose at the Reagans (a former B-movie actor with an astrology-fixated wife) and the Bushes (boring and matronly). Clinton was just embarrassing - I mean, I understand the temptation to cheat but at least pick someone with brains and some fashion sense!, and anyone who could form a complete sentence could feel superior to W. ("Is our children learning," anyone?)

But when Obama was elected, it was dismaying - not only was he incredibly articulate, handsome, and successful, he was even younger than I am, married to an equally accomplished, gorgeous wife with two picture-perfect, yet engaging, offspring. I find myself looking for little cracks in the armour - can't one of the kids have a tantrum in public? ( "Mo-o-om, I HATE this outfit and I don't wanna wave at any more people!" "Da-a-a-d, Sasha's sitting on my side of the limo seat!") So I find myself looking for minor quibbles - Michelle's election night dress wasn't very flattering, and Barack does have an annoying tendency to mix up his pronouns ("This was a great day for Joe Biden and I" - honey, it's an object, use 'me'), but that feels like grasping at straws. And it's not as if I don't WANT to like them, I just wish they didn't make me look so damned inferior!

This morning, as I struggled to get the boys moving, I tried, "Sasha Obama is only 7 but she can make her own breakfast, her own lunch AND prepare dinner for the family in 15 minutes!" They just rolled their eyes and sneered. On the other hand, I frequently hear from teachers and other parents about how well behaved my boys are (which inspired a song on my first album, "Have Aliens Replaced My Kid?") So now when the first family's apparent perfection makes me feel bad, I indulge my new fantasy, that the perfection cracks in private, Sasha whines ("where's the puppy already?"), Malia has pre-adolescent tantrums ("All the other girls at Sidwell watch Family Guy!"), Michelle has a perimenopausal meltdown, and Barack snaps at everyone and then sneaks a cigarette. I feel better already!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who I'm Wearing To The Oscars

In case you've never seen a celebrity stopped on the red carpet and asked about her gown, that title is not a grammatical mistake, at least by today's standards. Awards show reporters must be convinced that we are much more interested in designers' names than in actresses' upcoming movies, or political opinions, or plans to adopt African orphans, so consequently every three minutes, you'll see an overly made-up bimbo run up to the next arrival, gushing, "Kate! (or Cate! or Katie!), you look absolutely fabulous, who are you wearing?"

I keep hoping for some actress with an IQ higher than her bra size to snap, "Hello, I'm wearing a dress, not a person," Or at least "It's WHOM, not who." But apparently, this grammatically-impaired fascination with clothing designers is ubiquitous (a word I doubt anyone on Project Runway could use in a sentence). We have reality competitions, fashion shows covered in the NY Times, and instantaneous knockoffs available of the dresses worn by the new, chic First Lady (we even know who designs her kids' clothes). I'm not knocking the fashion industry, even though I wouldn't spend $8,000 on the latest purse even if I had it to spend. But can't we celebrate movies and creative accomplishments beyond what the women are wearing?

Last night I heard an essay on NPR, of all places, by a writer whose film-maker husband was up for one of the minor awards given out by Rikki Lake or William Shatner before the telecast, and while most of the piece was about how the hubby's previous Oscar had changed their marriage, she had to mention that she'd be 'wearing' a pair of hip young Oakland designers who'd lent her a fabulously structural, modern yet vintage, ruched Aubergine satin gown with a sheer lace bolero (or something along those lines). Come on, now even anonymous spouses are drinking the Koolaid? I know I couldn't say 'who I was wearing' without snorting, it sounds like I'd have a pair of little designers, one on my back, one in front, holding hands and suspended from my shoulders.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not immune to the allure of glamour, and I'll be watching the pre-Oscar telecast and critiquing the arrivals ("Strapless gowns don't look good on women that thin," "Jeez, with all that money she couldn't manage to get her hair done?"), hoping for a really good Fashion Don't like Bjork's swan-laying-an-egg dress, or the year Gwyneth looked like a goth vampire. But just once, I'd like to see the actresses asked something besides 'who they're wearing'. (As for me, I'll be wearing Lucy - the dog who likes to sit on my lap - and sweats by Target.)

Friday, February 20, 2009


There is nothing more delicious than an engrossing book, and time to read it; so it’s doubly frustrating when the only available time is right before bed and the book is even remotely thought-provoking or disturbing. (I learned this the hard way when I thought I’d get sleepy by reading one more chapter of “The World According To Garp”, and the chapter in question was the one with the infamous oral-sex-in-the-parked-car-accident - ignore the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t read the book - and I was up for another 2 hours until I found out what happened and could get my heartrate back down.)

I love re-reading favorites, and at the top of my list has always been The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, a story of a totalitarian, male-dominated society run amok and stripping women of all rights. I actually couldn’t open the book during the Bush administration, because the political story was a bit too close to home, but now that a Democrat is back in the White House, I was ready. But of course, I made the mistake of starting it last night before bed, and I had to put it down and read a cooking magazine before I could relax. Of course, I rarely have the time, energy or discipline to read an entire book - but this one ‘had me at hello’, again.

Atwood is a genius at parcelling out little bits of the back story, so the reader has to wait hungrily for each explanatory detail, to find out how the heroine ended up a ‘handmaid’ (women owned by childless couples in order to provide them with babies), what happened to her own child & husband, the fates of her feminist single mother and adventurously rebellious lesbian best friend. Even though I remembered the basic plot outline, I’d forgotten novel touches like hoarded-butter-as-lotion and the forbidden nocturnal Scrabble games. A combination of admiration for Atwood’s story-telling and impatience to find out what happened next meant I had trouble putting the book down. (I had to bribe myself - “Finish that proposal and you can read another chapter”, “Run your errands and then you can read while you wait for Ben to finish practice.”)

But in my fervor, I’ve gobbled the book up, and there’s none left, so I’m that greedy kid who ate all her Halloween candy in two nights instead of making it last until it was stale. Really good books are a form of pigging out, only without the sour stomach and cellulite, just a sense of sadness that it’s all gone. Oh, I can re-read it to savor the word use and literary structure, but it’s a diluted pleasure, like a weak cup of tea from a squeezed-out used teabag . The first time through (after 8 years) is such a weirdly wonderful hodgepodge of creepiness and fascination and spine-tingling horror and titillation - I’ll have to wait a few years to have that again. On the other hand, I have a few hours for my adrenaline to subside, so I should have an easier time falling asleep tonight.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Day In High Heels

I've never been good at suspending disbelief when I watch movies or sitcoms; seeing a coffee-house waitress with a fabulous luxuriously furnished apartment, or the 22-year-old heroine of a romantic comedy who happens to be a world-renowned forensic attorney, has always made me snort in disgust (much to the dismay of whoever is watching with me - "Oh come on, Lauren, it's just a TV show!") But what I'd always found most ridiculous was the characters on Sex In The City, running around Manhattan's hard pavement in thin-soled, spindly stilettos. I mean, come on - after ten minutes in those torture devices, any believable female character would be switching to Crocs and complaining about foot pain. (Not to mention the fact that on Carrie's columnist salary, a closetful of Manolo Blahniks wouldn't leave room for extras like fabulous brunches or rent.)

However, after all my sneering remarks about designer footwear and the ludicrousness of heels, I'm starting to change my tune a bit for purely selfish reasons - my kids are getting to be taller than I am. I don't have the budget or pain threshhold for stilettos, but I have found a couple of pairs of heels (with nicely padded soles, chunky heels, or other concessions to comfort), which I'll wear for a few hours when I want a bit of extra authority with a class I"m teaching, if I'm out in public with the son who passed 5'9" last week and is growing every day, or if I just feel like looking cute.

Yesterday, I had a combination of all 3, a long day of teaching an early morning class, a couple of meetings, and tons of running around with the kids, and so I spent the whole day in Naturalizer half-boots with a 3 inch heel (which fall somewhere between Carrie's prized strappy shoes and orthopedic oxfords). And it was amazing - I felt confident, I felt cute, and I loved how the additional height made people ask if I'd lost weight. (I also was finally able to wear the nice jeans that I got with my Nordstrom bonus points, but that I've been too lazy to hem. Those fashion magazines are right, longer pants legs do make you look thin!)

My feet held up till we were home for good around 6, at which point I changed into sweats and my old beat-up slippers (unlike the Sex In The City gals, whose leisure wear seems to be skimpy camisoles and their boyfriends' boxer shorts worn with designer flip flops, but my husband wears those boxer-briefs, which don't look remotely cute on me, and the sight of me in a tank top would horrify my sons, who think cleavage on an adult woman is gross, particularly if she happens to be their mother). Of course, as soon as I changed, my feet began to ache, and I remembered why I don't usually wear heels more than a few hours at a time. But I also felt like Cinderella after the ball - including having my lovely memories of being fashionable and glamorous for a day.

I don't think I'll give up on the heel idea, I'll just get some of those Dr. Scholl's pads so that the balls of my feet aren't so sore (and wonder how Carrie & her friends survive without them). And I'll make sure I stick to semi-sensible heels (there are great companies like Naturalizer and Aerosoles with affordable, cute, comfortable shoes). I'll leave the $700 strappy ones to the 18-ear-old former model playing a research scientist who does field work in a bikini, and other similarly believable characters.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rainy Days And Mondays . . .

Only women around my age or older will be able to finish that line (" . . always get me down", from a Carpenters hit song) - but here it is, Monday and raining nonstop, and it's President's Day so I have bored kids with cabin fever - let the bickering begin! Plus they're annoyed because they only have the one day off - our neighborhood isn't affluent enough for "Ski Week", the mid-February vacation taken by school districts who got tired of battling low attendance around now.

I'm trying to think of strategies to cope with rainy days, besides just being grateful that this might avert real drought measures. Anyone who lived in Northern California in the late '80s may remember water rationing and the awkwardness of using someone else's toilet and trying to figure out the etiquette of flushing - looks like we'll be spared this year!

I remember a particularly bad rainy Monday several years ago; I was recently divorced, the kids were driving me nuts, we were all bored and stir-crazy, so in a fit of mommy-creativity, I decided we should all put on raincoats and go for a walk and get soaking wet. The kids were 4 and 7, so they loved it, particularly when I encouraged them to splash in every puddle they could find, and then when we got home, we changed into dry pajamas and roasted marshmallows (over the electric range, actually, but it sort of worked). It turned a lousy lonely day into a family memory we all still cherish.

Unfortunately, family memories are hard to encore. (I feel a little like Woody Allen in "Annie Hall", who tries to recreate the hilarious lobsters-crawling-out-of-the-pot with a new date, who is not amused.) I tried the 'let's walk in the rain and get wet' idea, but these days the boys are too old to splash in puddles, and they both have homework to finish and rats to feed and Facebook updates to write (you know, those urgent status reports, "I'm stuck inside doing homework").

However, I'm still determined to make this a rainy day to remember. While they finish homework, I think I'll download a Carpenters' album and reminisce; plus we now have a working fireplace, so tonight I'm making a fire and we'll roast marshmallows, I'll tell them stories about the last drought or flooded streets when I was a kid and they'll roll their eyes, and maybe I'll give them some material for when they have kids of their own.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Son's Girlfriend

There is no such person, for now, but I can dream, can't I?

Husband 2.0 is now the 15-year-old's confidante, and all he'll tell me is that there is a girl David likes, and he's asked for some advice. When I oh-so-subtly asked Scott (a.k.a. 2.0) for more details (I think I pounced on him and said, "Spill it!"), he told me I was nosy. As if that was news? But I realized it's less about my natural curiosity, and more about my own situation - I'm the lone female in a sea of testosterone, and I need reinforcements!

I have this lovely fantasy of family dinners & movie nights where the girlfriend(s) are comfortably integrated into our circle and I no longer have to borrow the neighbor girls to have a dose of femininity around the house. Meanwhile, it is fascinating to see how differently my sons both approach romance. When David was in 7th grade, he decided to like the popular cheerleader, who was rude to him and whom all his friends liked for similarly silly reasons. And I had to hear about it from Scott, after the fact. However, Ben, who is now in 7th grade, is much more up front. He told me about the girl he liked, and he likes her because she's nice and funny and talented, and not particularly popular, and he even asks me for advice about what to say to her. (Of course, dating in 7th grade is mostly a question of saying you're going with someone and texting each other, but it's still fun to talk to him about it.)

Okay, I have to admit, it's not just longing for more female energy that has me following my sons' dating lives - Part of me wants to heal my own socially frustrated adolescence, just like a frustrated performer turns into a stage mother or a deprived child grows up to be an overindulgent parent. I still bear the scars from 7th grade, when I asked the boy I liked if he wanted to dance, and his response was, "Yes, I want to dance, but not with you." And my only real teen romance was when I was 16 - we'd gone to debate camp together, he was in my brother's hebrew school class, and his mother was my sister's therapist. He'd drive me home after a hot date at the symphony or a chess tournament, I'd come in about 2 hours later and tell my mother we'd been talking the whole time. To give you an idea of how geeky I was, my mother believed me - to give you an even better idea, it was true!

It's not even about making up for my own pain, but wanting to spare my boys heartache, and hoping they know what it's like to love and be loved. I'm blissfully happy with Husband 2.0 (and I had a few deliciously romantic months with the boy from hebrew school - I still have the Ray Bradbury books he gave me!), so I know how wonderful it will be when they do connect with a girlfriend who adores them even half as much as I do. And if she'll go shopping with me, that's even better!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tip To Mother of Octuplets: If You Hire A Publicist, Don’t Ask For Privacy!

The recent birth of octuplets to an unemployed mother of 6 living with her parents in a 3 bedroom house raises enough eyebrows to fuel thousands of blogs, hours of debates, and several tabloid stories. But even disregarding the ethical, moral, societal and financial issues, what struck me the most was that the mother, Nadya Suleman, begged everyone to leave her alone and to respect her privacy - and she issued this statement through a publicist, as well as on an exclusive interview with Ann Curry on the Today Show.

Excuse me? Honey, I hate to tell you, but going on the Today show violated your own privacy! People don’t hire PR specialists if they only want to be left alone and aren’t looking for corporate sponsorships, free diapers, or book deals. Suleman’s hypocrisy reminds me of all those movie stars who complain, “I didn’t ask for celebrity, I just wanted to tell good stories and do my work.” Great, then go be a children’s librarian or do regional theater. When you accept $15 million to star in a studio blockbuster, or audition for a reality show, or have way too many children and then go on national TV, you’ve made that Faustian bargain to give up your privacy in return for the perks - if you seek attention, deal with the consequences.

Life is full of those bargains. I wanted to be a mom, and that comes with years of sleep deprivation & endless laundry - part of the deal. I prefer being creative and artistic to working in a cubicle or going to law school (sorry mom!), so the consequence is that my income is lousy. Sure, those compromises suck, but that’s part of being an adult - which you’d think would be a pre-requisite before a fertility specialist agreed to in vitro, even if the mom in question didn’t already have too many kids to support.

In her interviews, Ms. Suleman insists people are just negative because she made the unconventional choice to be a single mother. Actually, I’d be just as judgmental if she were married, and spouting the same trite rationalizations that I’ve also heard from other mothers of obscene numbers of multiples. So far, she’s explained that she just loves being a mom (great, I think having six kids already made her a mother). She claims she’ll give every child unconditional love and individual attention ( while she’s also a full-time college student, juggling interviews and photo opps). She also apparently has a deep need to heal the pain of growing up as an only child in a dysfunctional family (with dysfunctional parents who are now her sole means of support). And she didn’t reduce the number of embryos, because she wanted to make sure at least a few of them worked out (because god forbid she only had one this time). At least she didn’t make the claim that selective reduction is wrong because it’s ‘playing God’ - and in vitro fertilization isn’t?

It makes me mad to see someone so irresponsibly hypocritical get the free diapers and the multi-part interview with Ann Curry, and presumably a cover of Good Housekeeping, complete with adorable matching outfits for all 14 kids, while millions of ordinary, hard-working moms slog through totally on their own. Where are OUR free diapers and invitations to the Today Show?

I think I’ll hire a publicist to inform the world that I also love children and want to devote myself to mine, which is why I stopped at the two I knew I could afford, even though I have boys and I’m a girly girl who always longed for daughters (and has to content herself with borrowing the neighbor girls for an occasional shopping trip). I’m available for corporate sponsorships, interviews, and magazine covers, and what’s more, I won’t insist on maintaining my privacy. Heck, with two sons, a husband whom I count as a third child, and a dog, I don’t get any privacy anyhow. Come to think of it, that makes me wonder - how does a mother of 6 get any privacy, anyway, and how does she think she’ll find more privacy with 8 additional babies? Now THAT’s an interview I’d like to read!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Moms as Executives

The Obama administration has announced a new policy for financial firms receiving future federal bail-out money; no executive can receive more than $500,000 in total compensation, including bonuses and salary. Naturally, the executives are shocked, sputtering that bonuses and huge paychecks are a critical element to retaining good talent. Besides the obvious oxymoron (these firms have lost billions of dollars, so obviously the talent they’d paid so much for wasn’t worth it!), I’m also stunned that firms really think there are no competent prospective executives who wouldn’t be insulted by a paltry half-million.

Why don’t they start with moms? I for one could probably manage to scrape by on $500,000. (In fact, I'm terribly amused by the fact that some of these guys' complain about reduced bonuses which are more money than I've made in my entire life!) And moms all have developed, and utilized, most of the key skills executives need, as well as other critical skills that are unique to moms and could get us out of this financial melt-down, including:

Diplomatic people skills - moms can referee a play-date, talk a recalcitrant toddler into getting dressed, avert a fight between siblings who each want the last Eggo waffle, and listen tolerantly to a teenage girl’s hysteria about her horrible Facebook photo for the fourth day in a row, while simultaneously reassuring her husband that he really doesn’t have a beer belly.

Multi-tasking - oh, please, moms define multitasking, and we do it infinitely better than any overpaid CEO! (written as I’m feeding the dog, making a phone call about my teenage son’s driving lessons, and mentally calculating whether I have enough frozen chicken breasts to cobble something together for dinner so I don’t have to pay for takeout)

Leadership capability - Hello? Moms can get the carpool to agree on a radio station, keep order backstage during a children’s play, nudge a soccer team into agreeing on hair-ribbon colors, and convince 20 moms that they have nothing better to do on Saturday afternoon than assemble wrapping-paper orders. Managing well-paid subordinates is a piece of cake!

Financial Expertise - Even moms who share the family financial responsibilities with husbands usually take on the primary share of the budget-cutting, including reminding kids to turn out the lights and take shorter showers to cut the utility bills, scouring the sale racks at Target for out-of-season deals on clothes they’ll eventually grow into, we hope, and dealing with the inevitable melt-down when we veto stopping by Starbucks for a venti vanilla iced low-fat frappuchino, oh, please, please, please????

Creative Strategic Thinking - I challenge any CEO to look at my refrigerator and figure out a dinner for which I have the ingredients, that everyone will eat, that can be assembled in the 5 minutes I have between dropping off one kid after drum lessons and driving the other to rehearsal, and that won’t blow my Weight Watchers points. Then tell me moms don’t know how to think ‘outside the box’!

So Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, et al., if your reduced pay structure has you struggling to find skilled talent, you know where to find me!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thank heaven for little girls

I've come to terms with not having daughters years ago. Actually, it was the day I found out my second child would be another boy; I know plenty of moms who preferred to be surprised by the child's gender, but I've always been way too nosy to stand the thought of a doctor knowing something about me that I didn't; plus this gave me several months to get used to it. I know, I could've had more kids, but I was pretty sure I only wanted two, besides I had a friend who had tried for a daughter after two sons, and ended up with - you guessed it, twin boys.

Anyway, I have found creative ways of getting my 'daughter' fix, including betting one of my carpool girls that if she made it through a week without saying "like" as an interjection (vs. its appropriate use as a comparative modifier), I'd take her shopping for earrings. And whenever one of my boys is in a show, I'm always the first to volunteer to help with girls' hair - I spent one blissful Sunday doing french braids on 22 munchkins, and it was heaven! (My mother had a friend with 4 boys, who used to come over and do my hair when I was little - in those days, it was brush rollers and bonnet hair dryers!, how's that for dating myself.)

But recently, I had a new experience with girls. My son invited a neighbor boy to go with us to the movies, and my neighbor had too much work to do to join us, so I ended up inviting the 10-year-old sister and her friend - the boys saw the latest Adam Sandler comedy, and the girls begged to see "Bride Wars". The movie was pretty mediocre, and I hated the basic premise, of best friends who were so set on their dream weddings at the plaza that they became malicious bridezillas playing hideous tricks on each other. But the girls loved all the scenes at wedding planners and beauty parlors and dress shops, and I enjoyed their reactions more than the movie. And since our showing let out 15 minutes before the boys were done, I sat and chatted with them, finding out that they'd both already started planning their own weddings. (One informed me that she intended to be married at a local resort she'd been going to "since I was a child"; I couldn't help it, I blurted out, "Livvy, you're actually still a child!", but she clarified, since she was a YOUNG child.) They both had already designed their own dresses, one a strapless cream satin with yellow beading, the other a spaghetti strapped ivory lace gown with a full skirt.

I have to admit, the wedding-planning stuff threw me a bit. Heck, I grew up in the '70s, where dreaming of weddings was considered prehistorically anti-feminist, and people who got married at all did it barefoot, with flowers in their hair, reciting Kahlil Gibran or passages from Free To Be You And Me. Plus I've had two non-traditional weddings - the first time, we had a 6-foot inflated Gumby posed on the altar, and when I married Husband 2.0, the only venue we could afford was the gym at the local rec center, so we went whole-hog and had our huppa under the basketball hoop. (Huppa is a Jewish wedding canopy, which I also had to explain to the little girls when I told them this story.) However, I got over my squeamishness, and I was able to make a couple of feminist points about 'be equals in your relationships' and 'what if your fiance wants some input into the wedding?' And naturally they laughed hysterically at the second point - frankly, I didn't believe it while I was saying it! But it was a sweet break from my normal mother-of-boys life, since my sons are like 99% of men and have zero interest in weddings. I just hope their fiancees-to-be let me help with the weddings a teeny bit - at least can I do their hair?