Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny

The best time to watch a depressing movie is after a day spent with my parents.

Ostensibly, I was there to help Mom clean out a closet that she felt had gotten out of control. In reality, that meant digging through decades of her stuff. We must have come across 15 purses, including several I suggested she could live without. "But I've had that purse since the year I started working at the Fund!" she says, affronted, clutching a navy blue bag.

P.S. Mom began working at the International Monetary Fund in 1967.

And bags, so many bags. Grocery shopping bags, a  tapestry knitting bag (no, she doesn't knit or do needlework), tiny, stylish bags that belong to another era when she didn't carry so much "just in case" in her purse.

But it also meant digging through boxes and boxes of unorganized photos and as I glanced through them, I found a handful depicting me and my five sisters posed in bikinis in front of the ocean. In the '70s pictures when we're pre-teens and teens, we're all sporting long, straight hair parted in the middle, but in the '80s version, everyone's hair is shorter and, for the most part, permed.

There's not a pair of sunglasses in sight in either photo, despite the bright summer sun.

By the time I found a group shot from 2004 aboard a boat (although the where and why escapes me), we are all grown women looking far more comfortable in our own skin. Only one sister wears a hat and, surprisingly, it's not me. And everyone except me has sunglasses on.

What a difference 30 years make.

Mom also enjoyed the stroll down Memory Lane, never more than when we came across the sole photograph of her as a child. During the Depression, snapping pictures of your first born was clearly not a priority.

Because it was such a beautiful day to be on the river - sunny, breezy and near 80 - we spent a lot of time, including lunch, on the screened porch. Mom and Dad were just coming off two days without power after Hurricane Michael and one of my nephews was there doing yard clean-up after so many branches fell.

For lunch, I reverted to childhood, making everyone fried bologna and cheese or grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, a big bowl of potato chips in the center of the table. Everyone was delighted with the menu. Afterward, I baked a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and served them up warm because I like to eat the dough my family is big on cookies fresh from the oven.

I shared with Dad what Mr. Wright had said about his spot-on baseball play-off picks - that it's rare to find an athletic man who's also analytical - to which he responded, "That's undoubtedly because so many athletes think they can coast solely on that." Not my Dad.

Closet and yard work finished, we lingered most of the afternoon chatting about family and trips.

"I could take an entire season of this weather," my Mom commented to no one in particular as a breeze ruffled the ferns on the porch. Me, I was just happy to be in shorts and not feel cold like I had most of the weekend.

And solely because I'd just come off such a sweetly pleasant day with the 'rents, I took a deep breath and headed to the Byrd Theater to see "The Hours." Now, I read the book when it came out and I saw the movie but my collective memory of both was a depressing one, so I knew that going in.

Instead of staying there, though, I focused on what a large and stellar cast the film had. Oh, sure there were the leads (Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman in a prosthetic nose), but also a terrific Ed Harris. And Claire Danes as the daughter, Miranda Richardson as her sister, Allison Janney as Meryl's lover, plus John C. Reilly and Jeff Daniels.

Do we make movies with that much star power any more or is it too cost-prohibitive?

The Byrd crowd was small. I suppose not everyone is up to being depressed on a Monday evening. For me, the low point was when a toddler went running across the lobby, her mother in chase, before the film even began.

"If you don't stop when I say 3, no computer for a week!" the mother yelled at the back of the four-year old, who did indeed slow down. Not "no bike" or "no going outside to play." No computer. Children can now be disciplined with the threat of no device usage.

Oh, for the sweet days of bikinis and no sunglasses...

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