Friday, January 27, 2012

What if?

Laura Linney gets real with younger man Topher Grace in P.S.
What would you do for a second chance?

That’s the tagline for the 2004 movie P.S., which we watched a few nights ago, having put it on our Netflix queue as another older woman/younger man love story. Louise, a 30-something divorcĂ©e played by Laura Linney, is still mourning the death of her high school boyfriend many years earlier. Now she meets a younger man who has his name, his looks and his affinity for art. Has her dead boyfriend returned? Naturally, complications ensue.

The movie didn’t dwell on the age gap (about 15 years), which was refreshing. The story had more to do with the ex-husband, the best friend, and sibling tensions. Still, it got me thinking about the idea of do-overs.

I’ve written about just this thing before: the summer boyfriend spurned,  killed in a car accident and then mythologized. In my case he returned in a dream to deliver a message about Michael, just when I needed to hear it.

Do-overs aren’t always so transcendent. I’ve moved back to places I’d lived before: Connecticut, Montana, Baltimore. I quit smoking at least 10 times before that final cigarette 22 years ago. Lost weight, gained weight, lost it, gained, lost again.  For writers, revising is a kind of do-over. Planting new seeds every spring? A do-over.

But the fantasy of getting a for-real redo – erasing large blunders and small goofs, getting things right after all these years – seems hardwired into human nature. What if? It’s an engaging vehicle for movies and books – in one 2009 book , a 48-year-old guy goes back to kindergarten and his prom night. But what if, instead of looking back and trying to redo your life, you could realize that what you might want to do over is in front of you right now? In the movie, Louise reconciles with her brother and lets go of the ex-husband as she recovers the balance she had lost while living in the past.

My friend Courtney put up a recent blog post that put this in perspective for me. A wise woman who just turned 32, she wrote about how her life has moved from the leading edge of journalism to another frontier that she loves even more: the husband, toddler, the hard work and joy of farming in central Montana. She’s surprised at how her life has turned out – it’s the last future she imagined for herself, but now that she’s in it, she has no regrets, doesn’t want a do-over.

Life is hardly ever what you imagine it will be. Michael and I have each abandoned places we love in order to be together. We’ve struggled to pay the mortgage some months, watched our dogs die, had arguments over silly things. But I've never wanted a do-over. And sometimes he’ll whisper into my neck,  “Will you marry me?” Meaning: I’d do all of it, all over again.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I'm a grouchy bear.

Isn't the Cougar phenomenon so 2009? Isn't it history yet?

Apparently not at the ad agency that put together the newest ad for Dr Pepper. Accompanied by a pop-jingle refrain "I gotta be me," people in the ad rip off their everyday clothes to reveal a red T-shirt with a self-describing logo in white. The first? "One of a Kind." The second? "I'm a dreamer." The third?

Bleech. And of course, the young hero of the ad gives our lady a second look. But! at the ad's end, he chooses the perky same-age brunette with the "I'm a Dr Pepper" Tee.

This cougar stuff? Aren't we all ready for it to end now?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pillow talk

The newest issue of Baltimore Style magazine includes conversations with married couples of several stripes, a la the couch-couples from When Harry Met Sally, except they're not all old. Style's got your multiple-marrieds, your newlyweds, your younger man and older woman…

 Yup. We’re included, too.

If you want to read the piece, you’ll have to buy a copy of the magazine ($3.95 at the newsstand); Style doesn’t put all of its articles on its web site. Having already read the piece we wrote, we were more interested when Style arrived to read what other couples had to say, and thus we offer you these gems:

from Tom and Micheline McManus, who have had three wedding ceremonies and plan another for 2018:
• “Getting married again (and again) is our way of saying, ‘I love the person you are now and continue to become.’ And maybe that person will learn how to iron.”
• “We thought we didn’t want a big wedding, that we didn’t need it. But we were wrong; through the warmth and laughter of the people gathered that day, our idea of marriage changed. There were more than two people in a marriage, and that was good.”
• “Each wedding has come with an expansion of the guest list, and a reminder that as we grow and change we need to make our promises out loud all over again.”

from Erik and Polina Hansen, married three months
Polina: “It’s always a holiday when he comes home.”
Erik: “I don’t have to impress her, but I still try.”

from Heather Moyer and Amy Sens, married in 2002, at a church in Cambridge, Mass.
Heather: “That was before it was legal, but Massachusetts saw how amazing our wedding was and said, ‘We should legalize it!’ ”

Ron Smith and Julia Felscher, married 15 years
Ron: “I’m a real dreamer. I always want to do things without thinking them through. Julia is more of a realist.”
Julia: “I crush his dreams…”
Ron: “No, don’t say that!”
Julia: “I like the fact that he’s a dreamer. It brings out possibilities that I may not think about.”

Parker Mount and Laura Calhoun, married eight years (his fourth marriage, her second)
Laura: “For a while his family just called me ‘No. 4.’ They didn’t even bother to know my name.”
Parker: “They didn’t even bother with the word ‘number.’ They said, ‘Four.’ ”
Laura: “I took it in stride. But they came around. You have to have a sense of humor about it.”

Frank and Eva Manfire, married 61 years
Frank: “My grandmother used to have this woman come into the house to help out and she was like a fortuneteller. One day she told my fortune. She said in a few years you’re going to get married and you’re going to have a nice wife, but, I hate to tell you, she’s going to die right away. You’re going to be living with her a few years and she’s going to pass away. Well, I guess that was wrong!”

There you go. Now, what pillow talk do you have to offer?

Monday, January 2, 2012

In Our Cups

For the New Year (in which we wish you happiness) we have new cups. Readers may remember Michael’s paean to a favorite coffee mug, broken by his wife a year or so ago.

In it he revealed that our preference in cups mirrors our preference in mates:

“I like a cup that’s been around, that has character,” he wrote.“I like a cup that tells stories.”

“I like a fresh cup,” I told him after replacing his well-worn Polish National Home mug with a happy polka-dot version. “A clean one. One that’s new.”

For Christmas, Michael’s sister Susan gifted us each with a new cup suited to our tastes. A bright yellow wake-up-cheerful version for me. Perched atop the handle is a perky piece of poultry, maybe a rooster, although it’s hard to say. Sleek and tapered, the cup says “modern.”

For Michael, solid stoneware with an aqua glaze and lovely curved handle. A mellow mug with many stories, coming as it does from his parents’ cupboard, his father’s hand. What Susan didn’t realize was that the mug has even more history than that for Michael. He remembers the neighborhood women from his childhood coming home from Vermont vacations with hand-thrown mugs by Paul Gordon, of which this is one. This mug says “tradition.” It says “1970s.”

Tell me again, just who is the older person in this marriage?