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Month: February 2011

Comedian Ribs the Sisterhood

You find the wildest stuff at Whole Foods. Goji berry juice. Ancient Egyptian Kamut flakes. A dried “sea veggie” called agar agar. But the most intriguing thing I’ve ever had there was a frank and funny discussion about feminism with my friend Kimmie Dee.

A stand-up comedian, Kimmie is opening for outrageous comic Doug Stanhope on March 5 at Velvet Jones. We bumped into each other in the produce section, and she told me about the show:

“I’m gonna do it,” she said, glancing nervously at the female shoppers plucking perfect pomegranates from the bins behind us. “I’m gonna throw women under the bus.”

The phrase left me immediately, mischievously, exhilarated. There’s something about standing in a market full of shockingly conscientious goods that makes me want to be bad — and every woman knows that sedition to the sisterhood is bad bad bad. Women’s rights have come a long way, but have we yet earned the right to rag on other women?

But blunt, ballsy, and, in her own words, “shaped like a Bartlett pear,” New Jersey-born Kimmie Dee doesn’t give a flying Kamut flake. Women, as she sees it from her 4’11” vantage point, have become so narrowly focused on beauty that we’ve forgotten to use our brains.

When to Say When

The first time I heard my toddler curse another driver from the backseat, I realized that our kids learn an awful lot through observation. The key word being “awful.” Whether we’re driving aggressively, snacking unhealthily, or saying, “No, sorry,” to the panhandler outside the market, our progeny are watching. They’re listening. They’re learning. It’s unnerving.

We try to model thoughtful grown-up behavior. We try to embody — or at least convincingly imitate — the people we hope our children will eventually become: Respectful and responsible, courageous and considerate. We’re even careful not to gripe (out loud) when our own parents call during dinner, because someday that will be us. We’ll be the ones phoning our kids at inopportune times, and by god, they’d better answer with smiles on their faces.

But right now, we’re facing a tough grown-up task that’s made all the tougher under our kids’ searing scrutiny: managing our aging dog’s demise.

Jasper is 15, which is a-hundred-and-ancient in dog years. The boys have never lived a day without her.

Once the energy core of the family, she’s now a fluffy but matted rug that lies against the front door and can barely be budged when we come and go. She still barks, but it’s mostly at us, since her cloudy eyes can’t always tell who we are.

She’s stone deaf. Her hips slip. She sometimes leaves messes on the floor. And we invest more each month in her pain pills than we do in our boys’ college savings.

Marriage by iChat

Got big plans for Valentine’s Day? I do. I’m hoping to get booped. Repeatedly, resplendently booped. By my husband, of course — I’m not a loose booper.

“Booping,” in our cheeky marital vernacular, means sending instant messages to one other via our computers. My spouse and I both work at home; in separate rooms, on opposite ends of our house, we cyberchat each other all day long, our Mac speakers pertly chirping with each incoming missive:

Boop! “Hi, babe.”

Boop! “Hi, back.”

Boop! “How’s work coming?”

Boop! “Slowly but slowly. U?”

Boop! “Ugh. Need. More. Coffee.”

The dialogue may seem dull and the practice pointless; if we hollered, we could hear each other, and if we opened our office doors and craned our necks, we could actually see each other. Like, in person.

But booping is actually better. It’s easy. It’s fun. And despite social scientists’ fears that quick-yak portals like iChat, Skype, and AIM spell certain doom for interpersonal relationships, booping can be deliciously — unexpectedly — intimate.

In a recent survey by Shape and Men’s Fitness magazines, the majority of male and female readers said that texting, emailing, and other forms of hi-tech chatting led them to have sex earlier in their relationships than they might have otherwise. Why? Through cyber-flirting, they felt connected.

Grief with a Side of Popcorn

Okay, I admit it. I’m a sucker for a stud on a stallion.

When it comes to kid flicks, I’ll suspend disbelief for any number of tired old tropes. I’ll endure sinister stepmothers and musical montages wherein fiercely loyal woodland creatures lead plucky-if-impossibly-thin-waisted princesses through whole new worlds of eye-twinkling wonder. Long as the theater’s dark and the popcorn’s crunchy, I’m immoderately tolerant of pixie dust, talking race cars, and other absurd cinematic conceits committed in the name of outright emotional manipulation.

Sure. I’m down with that. But there’s one stunt perpetrated by children’s movies that really cracks my glass slipper, converting me from Happy to Grumpy in a single animated scene: It’s killing off a beloved character — only to revive him miraculously, senselessly, for a happy ending.

I’m not talking about faded fairies who can only be reanimated with our earnest belief, or giant iron robots who self-reassemble after being obliterated by missiles. I’m not whining about lion kings whose voices echo through their offsprings’ ears from beyond the grave. I don’t even take issue with close calls, near deaths, or even seemingly inescapable doom; the trash-incinerator scene in Toy Story 3 was one of the most riveting things I’ve ever seen on the screen, an almost shockingly mature, dialogue-less treatise on friendship and acceptance that left my heart racing, eyes brimming.

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