Saturday, April 28, 2012

From Angie Dickinson to Jennifer Lawrence

Growing up, my mother loved Angie Dickinson.

Curled up in my mom's waterbed, we would watch her catch the bad guys. She was fierce. I loved her. I also decided recently she is my ground zero.  By that, I mean, I have always felt I can take care of myself in any situation, badge or no badge.

My mother kept a steel rod in her car, and if ever approached by an angry male driver, she would whip it out.

"Back off, not afraid to bash your head in."  It worked every time and was hidden under the passenger seat of the Pinto. She used to keep a curtain rod but realized they were about as threatening as a dozen donuts.

Growing up witnessing this, well, gives a child an interesting bias of the world. It's fundamentally dangerous. No one is going to protect you. And god, though the possible creator of all things, by this point in time, has been all used up. What he/she had left remains in people. For better or worse.

Speaking of god, my mother adored Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Jose Feliciano.

Clint was her favorite.  Eventually, she dragged me on one of her quests across the country to track him down.

"He's the mayor of Carmel and I know he will fall for me. I'm the spitting image of Donna Mills. We even have the same clogs."

I don't carry weapons or live in fear that any person will just suddenly attack me. But I do have this huge reservoir of preparedness.

Say, if there is an altercation in the Whole Foods parking lot, and say, my cart accidentally taps a 6.3 body builder's Escalade. This is what happens.

"What the fuck are you doing, bitch?"
"Are you talking to me?"
"Your cart made a dent in my car!"
"There is no dent in your car and if it didn't take up so much room we would not be having this conversation, ballsack!"
"How dare you. I could pound you into the ground with one fist."
"No doubt. What are you? 250 pounds. I'm assuming a roid addict. Go ahead. I weigh 125 pounds, have 3 kids, 2 are in the car and now we have an audience, so go ahead jackass."

"You are mentally ill."
"Oh!  That must be it! I am being threatened for my life and am reacting, hoping to protect my kids. Geez. Maybe I forgot to take my meds and you are triggering an episode so I want to thank you for that!"

Said children could not hear because they were blasting Selena Gomez eating dried mango. They assumed I was chatting with an old friend.

By now, 15 or so people were watching.  Sure he could have flown into a rage, but now I had all these people watching, cell phones in hand. Some were holding up signs. I knew they had my back.

"You aren't worth my time. You need clinical help."
"Yeah, yeah. Do you have anything else?"

He got into his gas-guzzling, "Look at me I'm important," car and sped away, actually making that peel sound.

My daughters seem to have this built-in instinct as well, though of a much kinder variety. Polite, sweet, kind to a fault. Jennifer Lawrence is their hero.  They have not seen Hunger Games, but it matters not. They are both taking archery.

So we have come full circle. While I watched R- rated movies with my mother and only witnessed male heroic figures, the girls read about female heroines and see movies with strong female leads. Sometimes they are cartoons, but it doesn't matter.  Whereas my self-preservation instincts were based on possible anger-fueled bitter rage, theirs is based on, "We are tough and there is nothing girls can't do."

My hope for them is that this remains true. That is their attitude and a world in which to accommodate this.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on strong women, Angie Dickenson, mothers, daughters, Jennifer Lawrence.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Titanic created havoc with my kids!

Let me start by first thanking James Cameron for instilling fear into the hearts of my kids, scaring them off boats forever and spooning nightmares into their brains because they know Leonardo DeCaprio dies a horrible death.  My girls are 9, they have not seen Titanic, however, it's impossible to not be bombarded by this tragic event that occurred 100 years ago.

Twin One is very curious, so went to the library and read every book and encyclopedia on the disaster. She wanted the facts, and only the facts. She felt something so big, so awful should not be used to prop up a love story that ends, well, tragically.  In fact, she now uses the word tragic often and repeatedly about everything.

"Wow, I can't find my knit cap. That is so tragic!" or "One of my pet shop toys is tragically missing!"

While pouring over Titanic facts, she said, "Because Leo dies, I will never see this movie."

We sat for hours in the library, her intensity seemed to grow with every page, picture after picture, details, maps, re-creations of what the ship looked like, how it went down, and the dreaded iceberg. She was particularly obsessed with the dinnerware, how it fell, all that shattered china.

The topic brought up so many questions.

"Why did only the rich people survive? Why did some men get on the boat anyway? Why did babies die? Why did dogs die?"  Here, she bursts into tears. "How can they let greedy men live but sweet dogs die?"

"This man snuck on a boat while so many died and he didn't even got back for them!"

"Yes, that's true.  He was greedy.  He also helped design the boat. Thomas Ismay. Rumor has it his hair turned white over night."

"Big deal. I don't like him. I bet he didn't even have any dogs."

"Her I like."

"Yes, she was a hero. She actually got one of the captains to turn her boat around to put more people in it.  She helped save lives. That's actually not in the movie. No one listens to her in the movie but in real life they did."

"Not sure. The movie is already over long and any heroic bits they wanted to give to the fictional Rose."
"That's the Romeo and Juliet rich girl?"
"Yes. Kate is her name."
"Kate Perry?"
"No. Kate Winslet."

Twin One shrugs. Never heard of  her.

"I will never ever ever go on a boat. How come no one listened to Molly Brown? She is the only one that was smart."

I explain this was years ago, it couldn't happen again and so on. But of course, ships still sink, and somehow she knows this. She reads a lot. And hears a lot.

Her sister, Twin Two, pipes in. "Uh, Pirates of the Caribbean? Pirates are everywhere, Mom, in case you haven't notice."

"Well, probably not on ferries. The ferry to Catalina is fun. You can see dolphins."

"No! They can still capsize. Don't try to trick us, Mom!" Twin Two seems to be on some "mom is going to trick us" alert at all times.

"The movie is not an accurate depiction, honey. Later, you can both watch a documentary. But the books say it all."

By the way, we are in the car where all of our conversations take place.  I pull in to Trader Joe's.

"No! Mom. I'm claustrophobic. Please don't drive into that cave lot."

"When did you become claustrophobic?"

"The Titanic. Plus, once me and dad were stuck in an elevator."
"When? Where? "
"At the Grove. Just for a few minutes, but still."
"They were going to see Mirror, Mirror," Twin Two added.
"Did you like the movie?"

I was trying to get her mind of this claustrophobic thing since I didn't want to park on the street and carry shame bags for two blocks as I inevitably leave my "green" bags at home.

"I love Lily Collins. I want to be a warrior. She was awesome. Since I can't see Hunger Games yet, Lily is like my version."

"She's is lovely."

I pulled into the underground to the horror of my child.

"Nothing will happen, the ground doesn't sink and I will carry you."

"Mom! I'm 9? Hello?"

"And you can each sneak one item into the basket without my looking."

That seemed to appease her. It turned out to be more like 5 items, but interesting stuff, like Pom juice, a coconut, dried mango, nutmeg.  My kids are strange.

When leaving.

"Mom, just promise we will never go on a cruise. Like ever."


That was easy. I personally despise them. And that is where my claustrophobia is rather clear. On a ship, with creepy strangers, in the middle of the ocean, possible clown acts, filthy pools, and rooms they call suites but look like a Motel Six. And you can't get off.  Yeah, right. I would imagine being on a cruise liner is a bad smash up between claustrophobia and agoraphobia.

Twin One still reads the Titanic books, with a strong need to understand what went wrong, why so many needed to die, what "class" according to money actually means; people with money get to live, but people and children without it don't?

Well, I guess this falls into Michelle Obama's teaching moments. I happen to like that term, teachable moment. Because in my house, we have them constantly.

But one day I will get my kids on a ferry. I grew up in Marin County and it was a way of life. A 20- minute ferry ride with mochas I can handle.

The media instills fear not just in grown ups, but children too. Fires, wars, earthquakes, floods, plane crashes, freak accidents, parental death. And they are only 9. I wonder what 10 will bring.

On the way out, Twin Two shouts, "Oh my god, turn this up!"


"Do it," her sister insists.

So I crank up In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda.

"How in the world do you know who Iron Butterfly is?"

They ignore me and sing along to the song.