Wednesday, May 14, 2008

House of Rock

On Mother's Day afternoon, I delighted in an episode of "Rock Star Wives: The E! True Hollywood Story," just as Mother's Day tradition dictates, and because the "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" marathon on TV Land became very tiresome. I thought one of the rock star wives had a speech impediment and I started to feel sorry for her until I realized it was just the collagen lips getting in the way. She couldn't properly form her words. I'd hate to sit across the table from her at Taco Bell and watch her try to negotiate a bean burrito. Gross.

Much of the True Hollywood Story involved monologues about their husbands' drug and alcohol habits and how the stars battled their demons. I decided that I would be best friends with Sheryl Cooper (Mrs. Alice Cooper) and possibly Perla Hudson (Mrs. Slash). Because that's what I do -- I have TV Best Friends, Music Best Friends and Movie Best Friends. (I'll blog about these on another day.) Now I have this subcategory: Rock Star Wives Best Friends.

For the most part, these women (and the four others who appeared on this episode) have endured way more than I would have put up with. If I were a rock star wife, I would hit the bottle myself. Or the crystal meth. Or the ROAD. But they tolerated the groupies, the drugs and the drinking until the husbands eventually straightened up. I found the wives INSPIRING.

This is a photo of what my kids think they look like.


My kids have Rock Band, and I am on the brink of a straight-up drinking binge that may never end. The pounding, the yelling, the unintelligible whining. The kids don't understand why I won't shut up and why I really don't like Rock Band. You've probably seen clips of POWs strapped to a table with a blindfold over their eyes, with a steady drip of water hitting them in the face. I know how they feel.

The late night jams, the yelling over the soundchecks, ignoring the family. You might think you could never tire of listening to Bon Jovi or The Ramones. But you would be wrong. After four hours of vocal attempts at "Wanted: Dead or Alive" with that tap-tap-tapping on the fake drum, you're throwing dollar bills onto the hearth and requesting "Beth" by KISS. Poetic and so painfully true. The loneliness of a rock star's family.

The premise behind the addictive Rock Band is simple enough: a video game where players sing into a microphone, play a fake guitar and tap on a drum that SOUNDS NOTHING LIKE A DRUM AT ALL. Imagine banging a wooden spoon on a plate glass window. For about nine hours.

A couple of my children were once musically inclined. Now they bang sticks like monkeys in a freak show and wave a fake guitar around like they're Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. Each kid has lost an inordinate amount of body weight because they skip meals or absentmindedly eat with one hand while playing fake drums with the other. Their eyes are sunken in from sleep deprivation, and their hearing isn't as keen as it once was.

I half-smile at gawking strangers in the grocery store and explain, "No, they're not on drugs. We have Rock Band."

Rock on ...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Hangover

If you are a mom, you are either:

a) basking in the glow of Mother's Day, admiring your wonderful gifts and recalling the many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness showered upon you yesterday; or

b) still ticked off because no one appreciates and respects you the way they should, and why in the WORLD can't anyone Just One Day a Year help out around here and pretend like they at least care? Is that so much to ask?

Mother's Day has that effect on women—either you dread, endure and put it behind you, or you marinate in it for days to come. I am not in the business of inciting jealousy, but I have gathered enough feedback to know that ... I racked up. So I fall in the "a" category.

I am now the proud owner of two stained-glass pieces of art (of the second- and fourth-grade varieties), a fresh-cut daisy (that was left in a backpack all weekend) and enough handmade cards to wallpaper a large bathroom. I look forward to using three bath fizzies made in chemistry class and two tickets to see Jim Gaffigan in September, and I will be working all week to burn the calories consumed by the smoothie that my daughter brought home from the office (an ice cream joint).

But the one gift that will keep giving is a "best friends coupon book," a handmade flipbook of coupons to take friends on a variety of outings—coffee, dinner, pedicure, movie. The cash is attached to each coupon. It's the gift that says, "Go find someone who will go places with you," and "Friends, get ready to suck up!" So, friends, you should be on your best behavior, as I will be choosing four lucky individuals in the coming weeks to accompany me on these outings. It will be like high school all over again, with girls embarrassing themselves as they compete for friendship.

I know some of you will try your darndest to earn the sympathy vote, and that approach certainly has its merits. So if you have gone through a particularly rough patch recently, please let it be known. This tactic doesn't work on "The Bachelor," although it certainly pays off on "Bret Michaels' Rock of Love," but think of this as more of an "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Essays and videos would make nice touches.

Judging will be similar to the "The Bachelor," but not in a weird way. Maybe instead of a rose ceremony, I will host a coupon ceremony. Please, no evening gowns. Show up in your best t-shirt, cropped pants and flip-flops. Or, if cropped pants offend you (Caprice), jeans will do. If geography is not on your side and you live in, say, Illinois or Pennsylvania, then you might not want to apply. Perhaps we could instead enjoy a virtual cup of coffee.

In other Mother's Day news ...

• From USA Today: "On this 100th anniversary of Mother's Day, the woman credited with creating one of the world's most celebrated holidays probably wouldn't be pleased with all the flowers, candy or gifts. Anna Jarvis would want us to give mothers a white carnation — she felt it signified the purity of a mother's love." Hey, Anna Jarvis, shut up!

• I spent an inordinate amount of time in the afternoon hours, in and out of sleep, as the back door opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and closed, until I finally sat straight up and screamed, "For the love, would you MAKE UP YOUR MIND???" That's the purity of a mother's love shining through.

• West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother's Day in 1910. President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution in 1914 marking the second Sunday in May a nationwide observance.

• During this national observance, I considered munching on Lortabs to alleviate the blinding back pain brought on by what may be a kidney infection and thinking, wouldn't it be something if I were in Mexico, where urban legend has it that bandits will rob you blind and leave you on the side of the road after cutting you open and stealing your kidneys? The joke would be on them, I thought, because I don't think there is a booming market for kidneys like mine, unless they came with a lifetime supply of Lortab and Cipro.

• Anna Jarvis became increasingly disturbed as the Mother's Day celebration turned into an excuse to sell greeting cards, candy, flowers and other items. Little did she know that some 60 years after her death, it would also become a celebration when women like my friend Catherine would receive a Memory Foam pillow—a thoughtful AND useful gift—and when my friend Caprice would receive a Pizza Hut Super Supreme Deep Dish pizza.

• Before she died in 1948, Anna Jarvis protested at a Mother's Day celebration in New York and was arrested for disturbing the peace. Interestingly enough, Jarvis herself never married and never had children. Yet she still knew how to scream and throw a fit in public.

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P.S. -- Happy birthday to my one and only son, who turns 13 today. We came home from the hospital on Mother's Day in 1995, and his sister promptly told me to take him back.