Love at Second, or Third Sight (September 21, 2010)


I am definitely a believer in instant connections, and no I am not talking about those made through the relative safety of computer terminals. I am referring to the phenomenon eloquently described in the novel, The Godfather, as “the thunderbolt.” You lock eyes with an attractive person across the room and blammo! Something indescribable happens. An electric charge passes between the two of you and all of the sudden; you are flooded with want, need, desire. Even more empowering – you feel that same energy returned to you. It’s exciting and not a moment we are rewarded with often enough in life. Most acquaintances we make are rather uninspiring. Can I get an “amen?”

I have seen the thunderbolt effect in play throughout a lifetime of observing others. While it makes one feel invincible, it can also lead those who have never experienced it before to do things that are a bit heedless. Think Howard Marshall II, the Texas billionaire who married former Playmate and Guess? Jeans model Anna Nicole Smith at the ripe old age of 88. Though both parties are now long since deceased, the battle for the Marshall fortune continues to play itself out in the courts due to this ill-advised union – that could only ever have been based on one-sided lust (Marshall) and concerted gold digging (Smith). It can be especially damaging when the thunderbolt doesn’t strike both ways, so to speak.

So yes, love at first sight exists and I respect the awesomeness of its power when it happens. However, my own personal life hasn’t featured this occurrence. When it comes to potential love matches, even platonic friendships, my affection is of the slower growing kind. And by that I mean I often loathe, detest and completely forsake those that ultimately turn out to be my greatest soul mates. In some cases this aversion has been known to stubbornly persist for years, until a breakthrough of some kind exposes the true likeness of my character with another’s.

Let’s start with my husband Eddie. I met Eddie in the early summer of 2005, when we both worked at the same downtown Chicago office. I was a part-time administrative assistant for one of the company’s Executive Vice-Presidents, while Eddie worked as an IT Consultant. Though others in the secretary pool continually remarked that the good looks and sexy smile of my future husband reminded them of “an Indian Cary Grant,” I was decidedly unimpressed. In fact when Eddie labored under the impression that his charm could get him anything he wanted at the company, I rather delighted in shutting him down wheresoever I could. I distinctly remember remarking a time or two, “that young fool needs to get over himself.” At the time I was a very “mature” 28 to Eddie’s 25.

We have been married for almost three years now, so evidently, I changed my mind along the way. But it took a year before I was able to step back from my initial judgment. I realized that Eddie could, and often did laugh at himself. I noticed he was witty, good at pool and oh yeah; he was pretty handsome after all. It must be noted that Eddie was equally disenchanted with yours truly. He often referred to me amongst his colleagues as that nasty word for females that rhymes with “witch,” a woman on a conference room space power trip.

Of course we can both look back and laugh about this now, but it is not the only instance of a great relationship that began with a mutual slowness to warm up. Case in point: Jessica, my dear friend who lives with her husband Nick in jolly old England. If you are a fan of the hit Fox television show, Glee, Jessica was once the Quinn to my Rachel.

At the age of 16, Jessica and I were both members of the Chicago Children’s Choir, a prestigious organization that has performed all over the U.S. and the rest of the globe. When Jessica returned to the group during our junior year of high school, after a leave of absence, I was happily ensconced as the “flavor of the month,” within the choir. I had a ton of friends, a cute and popular boyfriend – all the privileges I didn’t enjoy inside the halls of my own high school. As for the singing, that came second to my social life as far as I was concerned. I was just happy to belong somewhere, and in the summer of 1996, I was terribly grateful for the opportunity to spend five weeks touring South Africa with the group.

Until Jessica made the touring assembly as well. Not only was my current boyfriend her previous one (leading to gossip within the ranks that I was happy to pick up Jessica’s “sloppy seconds”), but even worse! She was slowly making inroads with my thriving group of young gay admirers. This impudence could not be tolerated.

[Insert montage of cat fights from Bring it On, The Craft and Mean Girls here].

Oddly enough it only took a bout of motion sickness (mine) at a South African ostrich farm, and a silently proffered glass of 7 Up (hers), to bridge our differences. Since those formative teenage years, Jessica and I have traveled together, peed in public places together and done more body shots than we can feasibly count.

So do I make an impossibly awful first impression? Am I a judger who finds it hard to let down her guard and reconsider her first reaction? Maybe, and maybe. But what’s so great about love at first sight anyway? Some of the most treasured relationships I enjoy today started off with a healthy dose of conflict.

Katy Perry Is Ruining My Life (June 15, 2010)

A picture of Katy Perry and Russell Brand in front of the Taj Mahal, posted to Perry's Twitter page. Original Filename: twitter katy perry russell brand.jpg
A picture of Katy Perry and Russell Brand in front of the Taj Mahal, posted to Perry’s Twitter page.
Original Filename: twitter katy perry russell brand.jpg


Ever since I made the mistake of telling my husband Eddie that pop singer Katy Perry had gifted a birthday trip to space to her English fiancé, comedian/actor Russell Brand, I have opened myself up to endless complaints that I am not a supportive wife. It’s not like Brand is going to physically walk the moon. He’s just going to shoot up above the Earth’s atmosphere, have a look below and float in a gravity-less environment for a bit, before heading back down to the ground.

Apparently, I am the ultimate shrew because I believe rocket launches to be historically unsafe (Apollo-13, the Challenger disaster) and I have this thing about liking my hubby better alive than dead. I would think he’d be flattered, but no, he thinks I ought to support his sense of adventure, come what may. This from a man who informed me yesterday that he couldn’t possibly take me to a theme park because he doesn’t “like to hang upside down.” What does he think will happen in a rocket? Then there’s the small matter of my not having 100k to spare for Eddie’s Big Adventure.

As tiresome a wife as I am, I was not content to burst this dream bubble and call it a weekend. I also had to put the kibosh on Eddie’s desire to “make a record and go on tour.” Oh, did I lay the blame solely on Katy Perry for bringing marital discord into my home? My bad, I should have included Matthew Morrison, aka “Mr Schu” from the hit Fox television show Glee in my complaint. With his dapper wardrobe, magnificently crafted hair, banging beach body and smooth vocals, my husband has discovered a new 30-something American Idol. On a TV show full of talented high school singers and dancers, it is Mr. Schu who has walked away with Eddie’s heart. He has managed to accomplish the unthinkable, according to my youth-is-everything spouse. He has made a grown man with a day job look sexy and glamorous. Somehow however, I don’t see my husband’s co-workers in the IT consulting field joining him in a glass breaking rendition of “Dream On,” no matter how fun that idea might sound. IT workers are notoriously vanilla.

This got me wondering if grown men ever leave behind the little boy inside. And if not, is this a good or bad thing? In my husband’s case, I choose the former because it is his refusal to disregard “maybe” that keeps him so engaged, active and interesting. Though he has toiled for seven years as a successful software engineer, a career in which he becomes more expert and entrenched with each passing year, there remains a side of him that credulously believes it is possible to chuck it all one day to become an astronaut or a rock star. I like this. He has yet to grow cynical. May he never, despite my nihilistic influence.

Gotta run. I think I hear Eddie tying a bungee cord to our balcony.

Boop’s Fall Must (and Must Not) See TV (September 25, 2009)

On an unexpected leave from my usual anal retentive sensibility, I have been a horrible procrastinator this week. In fact, I ought to be writing a review for the play I saw Tuesday night, Fake, at the Steppenwolf, this very moment. For a variety of reasons, like maybe the continuous grey skies that make my eyelids heavy, I haven’t been feeling it.

In this indolent state of mind, it’s is just my luck that the Fall TV season is in full swing. Most years, I take a shine to a new show or two. Sometimes they get cancelled (Samantha Who?, Eli Stone) and I am indifferent. But this time around, it has been a pleasant surprise to discover that of the five new network programs I have sampled (a high count to begin with), I actually care a lot about four of them, and absolutely adore two. If any of these were cancelled, I may even be tempted to join one of those online letter writing campaigns I have always mocked.

For those of you that have spouses, mates and children to talk to on the weeknights, thus precluding you from spending three hours in front of the idiot box – I both envy and pity you – but that’s another post for another time. But if you have seen any of these programs, weigh in and tell me what you think.

Can’t Miss

1. Modern Family – This is a true comedic gem, and what makes the show the more endearing is its utter plausibility. Familes in 2009 are diverse and complicated and finally, I see a primetime clan that looks like my own. The Pritchett family includes a longterm gay couple that has recently adopted a Vietnamese girl; an older patriarch who marries a thirtysomething hottie Latina, and gains a sensitive 11 year-old stepson; late-30s spouses married for 16 years – Mom is a former girl gone wild and Dad mistakenly thinks he is as hip and relevant as ever. The realism is great, but that is not what makes this show an utter gut buster. To prove my point, check out the following clip:

2. Glee – Confession time: Boop was a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir from 1994-1996, which makes the appeal of this show about an outcast high school Glee club particularly personal. But even if you think you hate “musicals,” this program is more than worth your time. Jane Lynch, scene stealer in The 40 Year-Old Virgin, is perfection as relentless cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. And the production numbers are flawless. Here’s one that gave me goosebumps:

If You Have Time

1. Cougar Town – God I hope I age as well as Courtney Cox. Much has been made of the actress’s “warts and all” approach to portraying a middle-aged, newly single divorcee, but I would flash my robe open on the first episode too if I had her body. Beyond the superficial though, there is a reason this woman has been in the television business since she played Alex’s girlfriend Lauren on Family Ties. She is cute, accessible and an accomplished physical comedienne. I am hoping the show lasts long enough for the inevitable hookups between lead character Jules and ex-husband Bobby, or neighbor Grayson. Nobody knows how to do hot grown men like ABC, I’ll say that (Desperate Housewives or Lost anyone?).

2. Community – I nearly put this on the “Can’t Miss” list but I didn’t want you folks to think I wasn’t discriminating. This winking meta-sitcom revels in its likeness to great 80s film The Breakfast Club. The show, ostensibly about a souless lawyer who must go back and earn the Bachelor’s degree he faked, puts Joel McHale with a bizarre and believably quirky cast of characters that includes Chevy Chase as eccentric billionaire oil tycoon Pierce.

I have never liked The Soup on the E! Network, with McHale. My friend Diane will want to throw tomatoes at me, but I just never got over former hosts Hal Sparks and Jon Henson (bet you thought I was going to say Greg Kinnear – not so). However, Community, has turned me into a huge Joel fan. He strikes just the right balance between cool and calculating with a touch of humanity. And this show is far and away the best thing Chevy Chase has done since National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Need proof? Check out Pierce and Jeff’s “F” grade earning Spanish skit at the end of last night’s episode. Sidesplitting.

Run Like Your Hair Is On Fire

1. Melrose Place – In a word, awful. It’s one of those shows where I find myself wondering: when the powers that be watched back the taped episodes they had to air, how did they greenlight them? Someone should have spoken up, if only for the desecration heaped upon the great 1990s original. The only compliments I can pay are to Thomas Calabro and Laura Leighton, as returning gruesome twosome Michael and Sydney. They are every bit as dangerous and sexy in their 40s as they were in their early 30s. Of the new characters, who are nearly a universal waste, only Katie Cassidy as nouveau corporate bitch Ella has any potential.

Supposedly, in a strange case of deja vu, Heather Locklear is set to return to save the show from itself. I verily believe this piece of garbage might get cancelled before Amanda Woodward has a chance to work it.