Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Hard Part

I normally keep the tone of my blog light, occasionally straying into more serious territory.  Today is one one of those times. I lost someone special this week, my cousin Paul.  He had struggled with depression for many years and this week, it won. 

Paul was five years older than me, the oldest of the grandchildren on my father's side of the family.  To us, the houseful of girl cousins, Paul and his brothers were exotic, exciting creatures.  They were the brothers we never had, the first exposure to boy behaviors and cool boy stuff.  We had Barbies, they had Hot Wheels with miles of orange track in the basement.  We were jealous of their sister, Peggy, to have all those boys around...I think she spent any number of years disagreeing.  These boys were funny, loud, gross and endlessly fascinating to me and my sisters. We spent holidays together, countless summer days and evenings, we would plead with our parents to let us spend the night, we reveled in the attention of these strange alien life forms. 

Of all those boys, none were as fascinating to me as the oldest, Paul.  He was the center of the fun, handsome and hilariously funny, he looked just like Donny Osmond to me (an opinion he nether shared nor appreciated!) and I thought the world revolved around him.  Paul was my first big crush and I would follow him like a puppy.  I'm sure his idea of a good time at 13 years old was having his eight year old cousin dogging his every move.  He was endlessly patient and unfailingly kind to what I imagine was an annoying little tag along.

Family events were noisy and hilarious as we grew up, Paul and Andy, the next oldest of the boys, were our own family comedy duo.  They were Lewis and Martin without the smoking jackets or the Smothers Brothers without the snark.  Quick witted and clever, if one didn't have a smartass comment to fit the moment, the other usually did.  A viewing of old family movies featuring my two older sisters wearing horrible early 70s high-waisted dresses prompted comments of  "They were so poor they had to sell their torsos."  I have never been able to look at "empire waist" dresses without giggling madly since that time.I cannot watch or even refer to "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" without thinking of him.

I come from a family of really smart people, I mean REALLY smart people.  Not the easiest environment for someone who was a less than stellar student (me).  Paul got it, he and I used to refer to each other as "the other C student in the family".  It was reassuring to me that the star of the family was also my ally in the ongoing grade war with the rest of the clan.  It was not easy when even our respective younger siblings outshone us academically, but having someone who knew what it was like made it a damn sight easier.

 It was the 80s...shut up.

He died this week, but the depression took him away from us quite some time ago.  My family is less without him, I lost my companion in our sea of smarty-pants relatives.

He married a gorgeous and wonderful woman who stuck in there when a lot of people would have cut their losses and run for safety.  They had two of the most wonderful kids I have ever met.  Both Madeline and Joe inherited Paul's magnetism.  You WANT them to like you because they are so cool, and funny, and charming and you're cooler because you get to hang around them.  That's how he was, you felt lucky that you got to be around him. 

We didn't see each much of each these past few years because he didn't want anyone to see that he was a failure, that's what he thought of himself. This is the part I will never understand.  I look at his wife, his kids, the overwhelming love his family has for him and see success, not failure.  I wish I could have told him that.  I wish I could have made him see himself through our eyes, not his eyes, the eyes that only saw the illness. 

I loved him and I will miss him forever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hate To Break It To You...

There are a number of things people insist on doing, wearing or being that they seem to think is the epitome of cool, but really just aren't.  I offer these insights lovingly, constructively and in the most generous of ways:

#1 The Car
It's a car, people. It is transportation from point A to point B.  What matters most is if it runs.  Some of my favorites include the mini van that used to ba-dum its way past the house with the giant (aftermarket, obviously) speakers and sub woofer loud enough to rattle the china in the house.  Dude, you're driving a minivan, you have lost any cool you might have had.  There's the Ford Taurus with the elaborate flame paint job, I love this car so much.  I think the owner is either the most completely ironic person or the most clueless, either way, I am fully amused.  My latest, and least loved, is the yet unidentified vehicle that has take to roaring past the house through the night and into the wee hours of the morning.  I beg someone to explain the point of dual exhaust pipes accompanied by overly loud muffler (I use that word loosely).  I loathe this display of macho lunk-headedness.  It does not turn us on, it does not make us think you're the manliest man on the planet, it does not make us want to pick you for a mate.  It makes us long for a set of stop strips in the middle of our street.

What you think we see:

What we really see:

#2 The Tattoo

I like tattoos, I have one myself, a reward to me for quitting smoking.  It was relevance and means something to me.  I am all for expressing oneself, I post my thoughts here on a regular basis.  That I do not understand is the prevalence of the outrageously pornographic, grotesque or downright bizarre  imagery permanently adorning one's body.  It doesn't really matter if it's under your shirt line, on your butt or your unmentionable region, at some point, you're going to get naked for someone and will have some 'splaining to do.  Why, why, WHY did you think a wheel of cheese dripping blood and gore from the dismembered corpse of a unicorn was an image to carry with you for the rest of your life?  What makes one think a badly done portrait of the Golden Girls was going to be a turn on...EVER?

And why does Bea Arthur have red, demonlike eyes!?!?!?

#3 The Make Up

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Remember this, learn it, know it, live it.  A little goes a long way.  I am including fake tans and overdone hair in this category as well.  If your eyeshadow can be seen from space, tone it down.  If you can't yawn without causing cracks in your foundation, time to remove a few layers.  If you cannot sit in a car without your hair touching the ceiling and you are not a professional basketball player, you need to lay off the AquaNet.  If you are unrecognizable without your makeup, spend less time on your makeup...seriously!

It only works for her:

Remember, a little goes a loooooong way!  What you see and the rest of us see might be polar opposites!