Thursday, March 19, 2009

Avast



Hi. The pace at home and work is starting to give me breathing room. 
In class we're about to start examining Peter Pan. While I'm sure so many would love to don the green leotard and soar...me?  I see myself as a little darker. Join me. It's a quick trip, really. First star on the right and straight on till the morning. Does anyone hear a ticking clock?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Boxes

In a couple weeks I will be able to return to a regular blogging schedule. For those still around, below is something that came from a prompt from a writer's group. The instructions were to writing about 'boxing' in any sense of the word. I wrote this.

My box is flesh.

When I was younger I dated cripples. I had a girlfriend who was blind. I remember sitting in front of her, making faces, and remarkably she could always tell. She would stop talking and abruptly look up, as if she could see me, and shriek. It eventually led to us breaking up. Still, she started a trend, and I was always on the look out for fallen birds. Odd then that I should have ended up with someone as plain and ordinary as my wife.

Charlene was quiet and liked order; her life was all pastels and soft edges. Her words were carefully chosen and perfectly enunciated.

“I don’t want us to go through counseling,” she said. It was a strange comment; I had no intention to of going to see a counselor.

Using the remote control, I turned down the television and turned to face her. She had attractive eyes.

“Counseling for what?”

“For our relationship. I don’t think I could take it. I don’t think it would help.”

I wasn’t sure how I felt. Aroused? I kept watching her, looking for anything unusual in her face. A twitch, perhaps. I liked twitches; they were sexy. Facial expressions, extreme or otherwise, could be an erotic explosion. Once I tried convincing a girlfriend to wear a plain white mask. I wanted to experience the emptiness.

“Okay,” I responded. “What do you want?”

“I just want to leave you.”

Hearing her words, I wasn’t surprised. Some people lean on intimacy as if it were a crutch.

She waited for me to say something. I waited for me to say something. Charlene leaned far forward in the chair, fingers closing hard on the armrests, knuckles painful white. Her mouth turned down, reminding me of a frown a child might draw on frosted glass. The silence continued.

I found myself wondering what it would be like to be deaf, imagining the silence as a protective blanket. I would draw it around myself, small within its wet, damp immensity.

“Nothing? I’m leaving? You don’t feel anything?”

No.

“This is pointless. You’re pointless.”

Charlene stood and went into the other room. I wasn’t surprised when she re-emerged with a coat and an overnight bag. She passed me, even steps perfectly balanced. Standing at the door, she threw me one last glance.

I would have said something, but instead I was thinking about one woman who would beg to be humiliated. I found it difficult to relate to that; I never felt humiliation myself.

Pointless, I turned back to the television, and kicked up the sound. I could have opened the box, but then, I would have lost everything special.The door lammed shut..

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Fiddler On The Roof


I just saw Fiddler on the Roof, starring Topol. This is my third time seeing the play (I actually saw Zero Mostel in the original role), I won't tell you how many times I was forced to sit througy the film.

Being a Jew, I grew up around Jews. Makes sense. I had ample opportunity to attend weddings, bar-mitzvahs, and I even went to Hebrew School (there was something sad about pressing my face to the bus window as it pulled away from the curb---the bus came to pick us up after public school let out).  Anyway, I stumbled my way through Judaism, content, naive...and then came Fiddler on the Roof. 

Don't get me wrong. I love the movie and the story. My mother, born in Kiev around the turn of the century, was part of it. What astonishes me though, is how this film came to influence American Jews. I remember this scene where the women in the film were singing at the sabbath, wearing shawls and waving their hands over the candles in prayer. My mother never prayed. My mother used the phone a good deal and enjoyed television, but Friday night sabbath in our house was pretty much the same as every other night.

Imagine then my surprise when I arrived home one evening and found my mother doing the shawl and candle thing. I let it pass. Sometimes, you have to. But little by little this film started creeping into other expressions of Judaism. 

Before Fiddler on the Roof, I never saw a woman and man put on chairs and raised above the shoulders of the guests as part of the wedding celebration. Never. The canopy? Yes. The breaking of the glass? Yes. Uncle Seymore embarassing everyone as he tried to dance the hora in too tight pants? Of course. 

But before Fiddler, I had never seen the chairs raised. And now? Now the bride and groom are raised, the parents of the bride and groom, Moishe the Village idiot sometimes takes a turn, and even the guys in the bathroom with the cologne samples and towels. And it's spread to other events. I have seen bar-mitzvah boys and bas-mitzvah girls raised. I have also attended non-Jewish weddings and found some Christians taking on the tradition (of course, it usually occurs after a sweaty version of "Shout!" and before the obligatory "We Are Family!" (Notice all wedding songs have an exclamation point: "Close To You!", "Butterfly Kisses!", "We've Only Just Begun!")). 

With Fiddler being a rite of passage (I believe there is a new clause in the Torah that states that no Jew will have attained the age of sixteen without having sat through this and "Shindler's List"), I am curious about other groups and religious folk. What films are Catholics forced to watch and which of them have infiltrated Catholic popular culture? What about ethnic or racial groups? Do African Americans have to watch "Roots"? Are the girls forced to experience "The Color Purple"? Will "Milk?" becoming part of the gay experience? What about "Rent"?

I'm afraid to imagine what influences "Goodfellows" and "The Godfather" has had.