Sunday, October 26, 2014

On Birdman, Illusions, Hope and I'm NOT 65!





There is always hope...


I’ve written more than once my reluctance to engage with convenience store cashiers, particularly at Rite-Aid. I don’t know if part of their job requirement is to engage but I don't like it This particular encounter was about MY need to engage. With a kid. Tides are changing.

Last night I was feeling friendly, open, had just seen Birdman with a close friend and we were all over the map in multiple conversations about life, ourselves, movies, kids, work, the world,  the meaning of life, technology, kosher gummy bears, the dangers of pork fat, preservatives and toxic friends. 


This is how we talk, lots of subjects overlapping but after 20 years we have rhythms and circles and understand exactly the other. If we hit on a particular subject of interest, we’ll stay there for a while, exhaust it, then move on. We were stuck on the kosher gummy thing.

KOSHER ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

Riley is my only friend I have this relationship with, that is, we both think so fast and are somehow on the same wave, our entire universe can be jammed into 30 minutes at Rite Aid.

Meanwhile, here I was at the checkout by myself with a young girl, perhaps 17. Riley had run off to grab another item, which I had predicted. The “I’m only running in for one thing!” girl.

Me: Oh, she always forgets something. But she has a mind like a steel trap. So smart, always thinking ahead.  Such a smart girl.

The checkout girl was grappling with the 20 pages of coupons Riley gave her.



Me: Can you believe this? I don’t know how she does it. Somehow finds, saves, then compartmentalizes coupons for the proper store on items that are already inexpensive. Where does she find the time?? What, with a huge job, runs her own company!  She’s raising an amazing son, travels the world, helps others, oversees the construction on her home, is kind, lovely and adorable and yet organizes coupons. See, this is why she has money and I don’t.

I toss my sponges and a Hershey’s bar onto the counter.

Checkout girl: Wow, you really raised her well. You must be so proud. 



Me: Excuse me?

Checkout girl: Your daughter. You raised her so well.
Me: You think I’m her mother?

She looked at me as though to confirm.

Checkout girl: Well, yeah. My mom brags about me too.



Of course I had to dig deeper because I love self-abuse.

Me: How old do you think I am?

Now, we all know this is basically a trick question and you get what you deserve, but I thought she might say 49… at the high end. She was already delusional.

Checkout girl:  Um… 65?

Me:  65? Are you serious? I look 65? Do you keep a gun under the counter?



Blank stare. This is what I think 65 looks like. ^^^^



This is what 65 looks like being fabulous.  Still, I feel I look at least 20 years younger than Susan. Seriously! This girl should get fired.


This is me on a sloppy day. I was in heels and pearls for cripes sake! I've gotten to where I'm okay with aging. I'm doing it gracefully. I take pride in that.

Riley comes rushing up, her long hair flowing all over the place, gorgeous face, all legs, then shoving tons of items she “forget” onto the counter.



She even looks like this girl ^^^ In fact it might be her.

Riley: Sorry, I couldn't find the toxic free paper towels. We need to stop at Trader Joes.
Me: Okay, get this. The cashier thinks I’m your mother.
Riley:  What?
Me: Because I raised you so well miss coupon collector.

You’d think the check out girl would show a little humiliation, maybe slight embarrassment, but no. Not even, “I’m not good with ages.”


Like I give any shits.   ^^^

I grabbed my sponges and chocolate.

“Just get me home so I can scrub the house and shame eat. Can you help me to the car, honey.”

We were laughing too hard to strip it all down but Riley, who truly does look 20, needed to try and shore me up.

Riley: It’s the hair. She didn’t even see my face.  We’re the same age!

Me: Who cares? She saw mine. 65? My mother doesn’t look 65 god rest her soul.

By now we are hysterical with laughter throwing perfume free toilet paper into the car. I gasped.

Me: What the hell is that?

I didn’t realize our windows were open.

Riley: Oh Jesus.


Basically Sasquatch was pacing in front of the car, wearing only tight underpants, his giant balls spilling out on either side.

Riley: Is that a girl?
Me: No, Riley. It has a dick. I need to get a picture and Instagram him.
Riley:  Hurry! 

I’m scrambling for my camera, then realized he was staring at us, our windows were down. Was I really just going to take a picture of a nearly naked mentally ill man? What was wrong with me?  We had just seen Birdman.  We were about to become the very people the film illuminates, forget reality, forget human emotion, but get the picture and make it go viral. 




Me:  Let’s go, this is crazy.
She was staring at her phone.
Riley:  Look at this, he's still in line!
Me: It’s a big deal, great actually. People wait for hours.
She had been keeping track of her son who was waiting for the over-the-top scary Hayride in Griffith Park.

As parents our children are now little red dots on our smartphones, we know where they are at all times. Soon we will be able to hear their conversations.



I had stopped counting birthdays after I turned 40, so oddly if you ask me my age; I just grab a number from the air.

Me: Why 65? Why not say, 80!
Riley: You know kids, They think everyone is old.
Me: That is true. My girls (11) think my son (25) is an old man.  I wonder if she thought I looked GOOD for 65.
Riley: You look amazing. Stop it.
Me: We’re so much more than our faces. Yet, wouldn’t it be great if there really was a fountain of youth? I’d be bathing in that business.



Riley: There’s one in Rome. I found them all.
Me: Unicorns. Ever notice how they are all water based? We are water? Theoretically we could just take a bath. I’d rather get a blood transfusion. I should drink more coconut water.
Riley: Do you think he died or flew?
Me: That’s the entire point of the movie, our interpretation.  He already flew into the sun. One of the recurring themes. He’s free. Finally. He says fuck you to the Birdman monster then controls his own fate. To me he integrated and ended it himself.
Riley: I want to believe he flew away to maybe a tropical island. I mean his daughter smiles and looks up.
Me: For me, they finally bonded; she was smiling because he was at peace. Why look at a crumpled, bloody body when she knows his spirit is soaring?



Riley: Yes but I want to believe he is off at some topical island, free that way.


Me: He'd drown himself. Anyway, this expands the point, that is if he flew away to someplace real, we as a society are being taken over by a viral reality, so soon there be no such thing as reality. May as well enjoy this one.  

Of course we are now both checking our cell phones.
  
Since age seven, I too have a  Birdman voice that enjoys reminding me I’m a loser, no talent, worthless, fat, ugly cow that has nothing to offer so really, why try.  



But you do.

One of the things I love about Riley is her honesty, and how she doesn’t give up. We are similar this way.  The self-doubt, the anxiety over our kids, and the impossibility of it all, then we end up laughing. The conclusion is we are humans in an insane world looking for good.  And if someone tells me I look 65, and I see a hairy fat man in his stained underpants smiling at me with a toothless grin, while contemplating the 25 layers of brilliance that is Birdman, I will call that a good day.

I finally arrive home, and settle into my comfy bed, channel flipped until Prisoners, a movie I love so much I can recite all the dialogue. I fall asleep eating my chocolate bar, so I’m guessing today I probably look 67.


Rhonda Talbot weighing in on brilliant Birdman, Michael Keaton, self-doubt, aging, life, humor, parenting, friendship, laughter, mirages and hope.