Aging & Swearing

I opened my eyes Saturday morning, the window behind my head open to reveal a clear blue sky. Birds chirped, but the neighborhood was oddly quiet. Where were the savages, the screaming children? Perhaps they had gone on vacation, or were merely at a park or beach or wherever it is that young people go. I got up to check messages on my computer, as well as research Eyes Wide Shut to find out what the heck I had watched the night before. I raised my Netflix rating to three stars once I had more insight into the plot as a mythological journey versus my initial impression of, “So that's it?” Around this time my mom popped her head in to let me know she was going out to the arboretum for a few hours, and that my dad was painting the fence.

I looked out the window, and sure enough about a third of the fence was already covered in red paint, coincidentally enough the same amount covering the old man. I had a few movies to mail back and, upon my return, grabbed a brush and joined him. We worked from different sides because, for some reason, my dad has never wiped one side of the brush on the inside edge of the can. He dips, then lifts, leaving a trail of spatter. He claims wiping the brush on the can wastes more paint, but I think he loses just as much if not more with his method. In any case, I didn't want red hair. Occasionally as I worked in even strokes, he'd spot areas I hadn't gotten to, knots in the wood, and tell me how to mash the brush into the uneven areas. Prefacing these remarks with “I'm not criticizing you, but...” didn't help, but I still kept my cool and may have only said “I know” once, through gritted teeth. I managed not to get much paint on myself, except for when I had to crouch over one of the bushes along the fence that my dad had gotten paint on. When I stood up, I noticed paint on my legs and forearms. Miraculously, my clothes remained clean for once.

Later, when my mom returned, I accompanied her to a five o'clock mass. As we backed out of the driveway, her purse rolled from the center of the floor and hit her leg. “There's something wrong with the car!” she exclaimed, as we continued to back up. “The brakes are gone!” We were now in the street and she cut the wheel frantically, now backing toward our neighbor's yard. “What do you mean?” I asked, picking up the purse and moving it out of the way. “This car isn't right; the brakes moved!” I pointed out that she was stepping on the floor and the brakes were in the same place they always were. Fortunately we were going slow, and she found them before we struck the curb or worse. As we continued on our way, she insisted that the brakes had moved while I joked that it might be time to put her “in the home”. Eventually she accepted the fact that when the purse hit her foot, it was her foot that moved to the left, and not the brakes that had moved to the right. Traditionally, she drives to church and I drive home, but I think the proper thing to do going forward is for me to drive both ways.

After mass, she spotted an old friend who recently lost her husband, within a day of my aunt's passing. He had been recovering from gall bladder surgery and was feeling particularly tired one day. She called 911, spoke to him that they were on their way, and went to get dressed. A few minutes later she looked in on him, he said something before his eyes rolled back, and she couldn't find a heartbeat. She went downstairs to get her son, and he was only able to find the faintest hint of a pulse. It sounded very sudden and shocking. As we walked out with this woman and her cousin, their conversation shifted to old times, when they worked together back in their twenties, and of the changing parish, of a time when there was standing room only. Now there are many empty pews. As I pondered the hardships that come with age, my mom's friend mentioned that her son started shaving his head when he started to go bald. In the spirit of conversation, my mom said that my hairline was receding too, and turned to point it out and confirm her statement. As three ladies looked up and studied my forehead, I managed a polite half smile as a parade of curses erupted in my brain, followed by the sudden self-conscious need to find a mirror. “Does he have a lot of stress?” my mom asked, turning the conversation back to the woman's son, and I thought of a few events from my day that could have caused me stress.

I'll close with a quiz of fictional expletives. How many of these do you know without clicking?

1. Frell!
2. Frak!
3. Shell!
4. Shock!
5. Blathering blatherskite!
6. Smeg!
7. Slag!
8. Smurf!
9. Zark!
10. Schnike!


Blogger Janet said...

I hate, hate, hate watching movies when I have no idea what the hell is going on. Some think that makes it a great movie.

I just think those people are suckers.

7/09/2006 10:59 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Shazbot! what a comprehensive list of pretend swear words. I was only able to guess one of them.

7/09/2006 12:35 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

What the Smurf? I would have thought you'd read Spider-man 2099, D.

There are movies that take some figuring out, but it's clear that the story is working on other levels. Existenz. Mulholland Drive. Lost Highway. I spent days dissecting that last one. But Eyes Wide Shut could be taken at face value on first viewing, and if one looks at the "plot" solely as the sequence of events presented, the ending makes things seem very unresolved. If the possibility that some of it was a dream is dangled, or that the whole thing was symbolic of something else, then it is a good complete story, though not necessarily a great one. I knew what was going on, but after 2.5 hours it didn't seem like there was a real conclusion, at least by conventional storytelling, and suddenly credits are rolling.

I still had questions even though exposition in the second to last scene was supposed to have answered them, but the source wasn't reliable in my opinion.

7/09/2006 1:50 PM  
Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

Frickin' awesome post!

Though honestly, I never considered your hair line receding enough to have caused such attention at church. If you're worried about it though, you could always shave your head. Oh wait -- one GeekFriend doing that in our lifetimes is enough!

7/09/2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

Meh, mothers have to converse about SOMETHING I guess. I have been thinking about shaving my head for the race, but that actually makes me have more of a noticeable widow's peak. The length it is now I can comb it forward and not be so foreheady. I definitely couldn't comb it back or spike it the way it is now, a la JD on Scrubs, which is a shame because that might be a good look for me.

I will forever be proud of the time you took my advice about shaving your own head, but not about starting with the 1/2" setting instead of the 1/8" which should only be used for edging. :) Aren't you glad you have a wife now to keep you from doing dumb stuff your friends tell you to do?

7/09/2006 9:00 PM  
Blogger Kev said...

I don't believe my hairline is receding - going gray? Yes. Receding? Only if I mess up with the clippers!

Never seen Eyes Wide Shut. Never had any desire to (except for Nicole Kidman), still don't (except for Nicole Kidman).

1. Frell! Yep.
2. Frak! Yep.
3. Shell! Maybe...
4. Shock! Nope.
5. Blathering blatherskite! Nope.
6. Smeg! Nope. Isn't that like, toe jam?
7. Slag! Maybe?
8. Smurf! Uh... yeah.
9. Zark! Nope.
10. Schnike! Nope.

Hmm... Three I definitely recognize, one I'm pretty sure about ("Shell"). 4 out of 10? I'm disappointed.

7/10/2006 12:43 AM  
Blogger Kev said...

Okay, I checked Wikipedia.
I was right about "Shell" and close on "Slag" (right `verse, wrong series).
And I'm ashamed I missed "Zark!". Rubi would have gotten that one.
That ups my score (if we're keeping score) to 6 out of 10.

7/10/2006 6:11 AM  
Blogger Rey said...

Scary. I knew 9 of them for sure and only one of them I might have heard you say.

7/10/2006 10:59 AM  

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