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4 kittens

Cleverly obvious clues and intentionally wooden dialogue

Posted on 2016.12.11 at 22:18
1. E. Messily was very sick. I sat down to watch TV with her on her bed, a thing we do when she's too sick to talk and hang out, but would enjoy company. She said, "This show is great. I need to tell you the backstory, though."

So she began: "This guy is called in to solve a murder. Each clue keeps leading to the next in this really pat, convenient way. Finally he starts to suspect that one guy is behind it all, leaving a trail of clues deliberately for him to follow."
"Got it," I said. It sounded good.
E continued "Then the detective realizes that everybody is in on it.  All the people in this town are involved in the put-on. The dialogue is wooden and stilted because they're all acting out their parts."
It sounded great. I started to watch.

At one point, the detective found some asthma inhalers sitting by a bed. That lead to a conversation about whether the suspect smoked, which lead to his best friend who did smoke. I could see what E. Messily meant by each clue leading to the next.

That smoker fumbled with his cigarette during the conversation, and the detective reached out and flipped it around. "What was that?" I asked E.
"The detective was probably palming a cigarette, and they swapped cigarettes. To exchange a message," she explained. I was impressed.

Later on, in a quiet scene, she pointed out, "They can't talk - their shoes are bugged." And after that, a woman alone in her house, drinking wine while overlooking the downstairs: "She's drinking wine, in morse code." There was a lot going on. I didn't finish the episode - it was late, I had to go to bed. I told Jammies that we should watch it sometime, though.

The next day, E. Messily IM'd me: "Last night you watched part of a tv show with me and I said a bunch of backstory about them trying to figure out who was on their side or not and using subtext...did that make sense, with what you saw? Was I being crazy?"

I wrote back,  "It made sense, but they never tipped their hand in the portion that I saw."  All of a sudden, I had to pause and reinterpret the previous night. Wasn't it a very clever show? I continued,  "It didn't cross my mind to doubt you - it seemed plausible that it was an exceedingly clever show - but I didn't see anything that independently confirmed it."

E. Messily said, "I'm going to have to watch it all again, because nobody even hints at it in any reviews or summaries I can find."

I thought back to the cleverly obvious clues, to the intentionally wooden dialogue, and realized: I am incredibly gullible.  It was actually just obvious clues and wooden dialogue. The whole show came into focus - it's just a regular show! That makes so much more sense!

What a delightfully dumb bunny I am, nodding along and living in the world spun out by E. Messily's hallucinations! How did I not put that together?  Jammies and I know, very well, what it's like when E. is very sick, and how her mind slips down these fractals. She's still a very smart person while having hallucinations. (And I'm gullible as hell. You should invite me along whenever you need a gullible straightman to sell your lie.)

It would have been a really amazing TV show, though. I think E should write it.

2. Ace's dance recital was rescheduled for Thursday.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Ace kept saying that she was not going to dance. She had wanted to dance at the cancelled Christmas Festival, not this other elementary school bullshit make-up recital.  (Last spring she also swore she would not dance in the recital. Then she chose to do it, after all, when she was sitting with her classmates in her costume.)  We did not make a big deal out of it.

She refused all the way up to Thursday, backstage. She clutched at me when Ms. K invited her to check out the stage. I maintained the party line: she had to put on her costume and sit with her friends, and after that she could make up her own mind.

Putting her costume on was a disaster - she was crying and a mess. Other parents were unhelpfully trying to cajole her with promises of cookies and looking adorable. Finally I said I was going to go sit in the audience if she didn't put on her costume, and so she did. She calmed down in my lap, became hysterical as I tried to leave.

I did leave. I turned the corner beyond the door and waited, and listened to her sob and sob and sob. I thought about Hawaii's disastrous piano recital a few years ago. I decided that it was dumb to torture the three year old. I re-entered  the backstage room and Ace fell into my arms. We hugged.

We put Ace's street clothes clothes back on and joined the audience just as the show was about to start. (Jammies' jaw dropped. "WHY THE FUCK ARE WE HERE?!?" stage-whisper-bellowed Jammies.)

I felt super conflicted. Back stage she had said, "I don't want to dance on the stage. I want to be on the video afterwards, though." She was conflicted. She would have been happy afterwards to have made it through. But also, there's good lessons about autonomy and being in charge of your own body and so on.  On the other hand, we also have general guidelines about finishing what you started. OTOH, she's three.

She did feel sad as she watched her classmates dance. Afterwards I asked her if she wished she had danced, and she said "NO!" so I felt okay about it.

Later, at home, I asked her if she would have danced at the Christmas festival. "YES!" she said enthusiastically.

"Then why not tonight?" I asked.

"The Christmas festival is FUN!" she exclaimed.

So who knows. There may not have been any deep emotionally coherent reason.

3. I wish I'd taken a photo of Jammies and I for our Christmas party last night. He wore a novelty suit that was more-or-less garish wrapping paper. I wore a very refined outfit, which I called Miss Colorado 1976. Drapey floral polyester country dress - slate blue with brown flowers. Suede boots, sherpa lined denim vest, feathered hair. Wooden jewelry. It was a look.

Jammies had a delirious moment of heaven with the hors d'oeuvres, a specific confection: frozen tater tots, rolled in brown sugar, wrapped in bacon and cheddar, and baked. I found them excessively greasy but I appreciate the decadence.

The person who brought them was not trying to be too cute by half. She just thought it would be popular. I like this person but we have trouble connecting. Later on, she was raving to me about a local store called Trends and Traditions, which I found to be a (pot-induced) hysterically funny name, because of its utter shlocky banality.  Which made her double-down on the earnest explanation. She kept trying to sell me on the fact that each item they have is carefully chosen to be one-of-a-kind. The owner curates the collection of jewelry and clothes with the greatest care and attention to uniqueness. "One of a kind!" I practically cried tears, laughing, "That's neither a trend nor a tradition!" I was probably being obnoxious.

4. On Thursday, I was down in the dumps, wondering if I should have had breast reconstruction. "I could have been totally done with reconstruction by now," I thought, "and never think about it again. Instead I've got this weird flat chest that will stay weird for the rest of my life."  I asked myself if I wanted reconstruction now, and glumly re-derived all the reasons that I did not want it, from scratch, and concluded yet again that I suppose I'd made the right choice for me.

Then I idly thought that it was strange that I was ruminating - I basically never think about it anymore. Why was this bugging me? (This is so YA fic-esque I can't stand it, but it's true) I realized it was the one year anniversary of my mastectomy. On the nose. Mastectoversary.

I am actually a big believer in anniversaries. That there are so many seasonal and calendar related cues - in this case the last day of classes and prepping for final exams, and having the weather turn cold, and anticipating the holidays - that your mind melds with all the other versions of yourself intersecting that spot on the calendar, and the most salient year rises to the top. So it did. I appreciated the milestone and no longer felt tugged by the phantom angst from last year.

5. E. Messily moved out. Her friend flew in on Friday, and they started driving up to Montana on Saturday morning. The house will now be less funny, less quirky, have fewer crazy constructions. Sure, a deer hospital. Sure, a tiny bed for the toy. How about a whole tiny party, where we serve tiny corn and use tiny doll silverware? How about a Mow the Lawnukkah party? Sure, some crazy shimmery fabric. Let's make a pangolin. Why not? I will miss having her friendship in my (local) life.

My grandmother is wearing down. She will turn 99 years old on Friday. She's got some fluid on her heart and is not expected to live more than another few months. She sleeps most of the day, and does not remember very much, but has coherent conversations still with her loved ones. She is happy and peaceful, almost to a ridiculous degree: my mom asked my grandma what she supposed the birds were saying when they chirped, and my grandmother said, "Peace. They're saying peace, peace."

My mom had to put her cat to sleep. I liked her cat, Darwin. He was a nut. He'd stretch out and fall off the counter. He was a total klutz. He'd chase his tail in dizzying circles, his whole adult life.

My carpoolmate is moving away. I haven't carpooled for years, but I still regarded him as a good friend and mentor. He officiated our wedding. I assumed we'd carpool again once my schedule opened up a bit. I feel glum that I didn't carpool for the last few years.

My great-aunt Tubby died. Sam Stayman was her husband, of the Stayman convention, which I guess means something if you play bridge. Tubby and her sisters - Mickey and Rita, my grandmother - were all catty Manhattan socialites, vaguely associated to famous things (I deleted the list of fame associations). Beautiful apartments and clothes. They were all sort of mean to me. (That's not fair - Mickey was always kind.) They stopped being mean to me when I slimmed down and became an attractive young woman. I was smart enough to still harbor a grudge, but also still envy their posessions and station.

6. Rascal is really into licking EVERYTHING. He has discovered that, predictably, it gets a rise out of adults if you drag your tongue along the table, the counter, the wall, their jeans, whatever texture is nearest your tongue. We are unable not to play into his hands - it's just so goddamn gross, I'm compelled to react, sputter, squawk at him to stop. It's so counterproductive. He's so gleeful.

7. I'll be sad when Ace stops calling Hawaii "DeWayne" and when she stops saying "otay". It's really cute.


Susan Dennis
susandennis at 2016-12-12 05:09 (UTC) (Link)
The Stayman convention is such a big deal that even though it's been 25 years since I've played even a single hand of bridge, when I read that I literally went WOW!! and started counting degrees of separation from fame. Now, I'm a little more focused on your having a great aunt named Tubby. I had one named Fanny so I get it. Off to follow the link now.
heebie_geebie at 2016-12-20 04:19 (UTC) (Link)
Really? I didn't know it was that memorable. I'll have to name-drop it more now!
Kelly Jennings
Kelly Jennings at 2016-12-12 05:32 (UTC) (Link)

Go, Rascal!

I was getting really bummed until I hit Rascal licking things. Now I'm laughing hysterically, all alone here in my living room at midnight.

#7 is also great. :D
heebie_geebie at 2016-12-20 04:21 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go, Rascal!

The licking is so...effectively manipulative! It's so gross!

(Anonymous) at 2016-12-15 04:10 (UTC) (Link)


i still think recon was the least-bad option for me, but at one year out I'm still uncomfortable with and not thrilled about my body. I think maybe it gets easier.
-J, Robot
(Anonymous) at 2016-12-15 04:16 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Eh.

Also, which to show was it?
heebie_geebie at 2016-12-20 04:22 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Eh.

It's sort of comforting to hear that, maybe in a misery-loves-company way, or rather a, "the grass is the same color over here. We're all trapped in our heads," kind of way.

The show is "The Hinterlands". I exaggerated it's badness for the humor in the story - it's a solid, standard detective show, made more charming by being located in Wales.
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