Living with my mother the last few years has been mostly interesting and fun. Occasionally, one or the other of us breaks down or falls apart but, unlike Humpty Dumpty, we manage to put ourselves back together again, resume the arrangement and be loving to each other.
She can be resistant to new food or drink (Ever try to get your mother to eat a rice cake?), music or movies and especially some of my boho friends who breeze in from foreign ports like Goa, Amsterdam and Bangkok dressed like pirates, gypsies or holy men.
“Where do you find these people?” she pleads. Although she is loathe to hear or cop to it, when I was growing up our house was “Weirdo Central”. Raising three kids by herself was no easy task. Having some freaks around for entertainment was the ideal solution to rupture the tedium of shop, cook, clean, wash, repeat.
At the same time, she has to wrestle to keep me from being curious about everything and dressing like a pirate, gypsy or holyman. “Are you really going out like that? Somebody’s gonna beat you up. The police are gonna arrest you. I’m gonna throw out that shirt when you’re sleeping.”
Or, “God, can’t you be normal?”
All this from a woman who, in 1967, cut my hair when I was sleeping. Yeah, I had Beatles’ Syndrome.
Well, with concerts, plays, movies, lectures and virtually every event downtown cancelled due to The End Of The World and everything, I checked out a dozen or so videos from the library the afternoon before it indefinitely closed. So, we have been watching a lot of movies.
She was unable or unwilling to watch to their conclusions Wertmuller’s Swept Away and Fellini’s 8 ½, although she liked Wes Anderson’s Hotel Budapest”, Danny DeVito’s *War of The Roses, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Spike Lee’s BLACKkKLANSMAN.
I will say this, though, I do squirm a bit during the sex scenes, peeking from the corner of my eye to gauge her reactions. At the same time, I try to keep my eyes from popping out of my head, refrain from grinning like a goat, hold my tongue from unfurling and cheering like a rabid fan at a sporting event. “Go for it, Javier!”
Tonight my decision was not an easy one but, relying on my intuition, I opted to choose award-winning director Errol Morris’s Tabloid which looked risky with its nondescript case. (Don’t judge a movie, or anything, by its cover!). Still, what was there to lose, except some minutes. Beside that, we had Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose, The Prestige with a cast of Caine, Bale, Bowie, Jackman and Scarlett Jo and Fellini’s La Strada with a brilliant young Anthony Quinn in reserve.
She pawed Tabloid, inspected the cover, turned it over and with a whiff of disgust, grumbled, “What’s this?”
I have to admit that I ask a lot of her and also that I unfairly ‘strongarm’ her (wear her out) until she acquiesces to see it my way. On the other hand, she would have to admit that she enjoys most - not all, of course - of these largely foreign, independent, challenging films.
“C’mon, Ma. Keep an open mind. You’re gonna like this movie.”
Peevishly, she replied: “I’m sick of opening up my mind. I can’t take it anymore.”
Now, however true that might be and however off the wall Morris’s Tabloid is - almost ridiculous, in fact - she liked it. So did I.
Here’s to an open mind!