Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fatal Attraction Reaction

The other night my husband and I watched Fatal Attraction the ultimate cautionary tale for cheating husbands. He posted the fact on facebook and jokingly questioned whether it was a bad idea to watch it with your spouse. It was fine. Though it is difficult not to turn all men into Dan (Michael Douglas' character) when you watch him tromp all over his perfect life.

My husband kept catching me staring holes into him even though he is the best man I know and he is as loyal as they come. He also couldn't help but squirm and tremble a little whenever Alex "the other woman" showed up on screen. She may as well have been wearing the mask from Scream.

Anne Archer as Beth (Dan's bride) is the quintessential wife; beautiful, sexy, fun, trusting. For goodness sake, I'd marry her. The young actress Ellen Hamilton Latzen who plays the daughter Ellen in the film could teach a master class on non-precocious child acting. It's impossible not to buy into their family unit and take it personally that Dan can't keep his pee pee in his pants where it belongs.

I have seen Fatal Attraction at least fifty times. It's right up there with Goodfellas as one of those movies that it's impossible to ignore if you come across it while channel surfing. In college, my friends and I wore the tape out because as theatre majors we were convinced Glenn Close's performance as Alex was the most brilliant of all time. We analyzed her every move. Her performance was so distinct and detailed that we'd rewind scenes and marvel at how her expressions changed and contemplated her subtext. We believed from an acting perspective that Glenn Close's Alex was not evil or psychotic as many men determined but fragile and vulnerable. For years, Glenn Close has defended the character as misunderstood. We agreed.

A great deal has changed since I use to watch Fatal Attraction with my theatre pals. The biggest changes have come in the names of Bill, Thomas, Nora, Audra, and Drea; my husband and kids. This time, when I watched Fatal Attraction it wasn't about Glenn Close's performance at all. I was a Mother and a wife and I was no longer taking Dan and Alex's behavior personally on an intellectual level. This time, everything that happened to Beth (Anne Archer) was happening to me.

There's a scene where Dan watches his daughter practice her lines for the school play. The look of love on his face and the tender way he hugs her when she is finished reminded me of moments Bill has had with the girls. I understood the sweet look on Beth's face as she observed the exchange. There is nothing like seeing your husband get all gooey with his babies. My heart grows three sizes just thinking about it.

Another moment that resonates is when Dan watches Beth get dressed for a dinner party. He sits on the bed and watches her in the mirror with delight as she puts on lotion. She smiles, part shy, part reveling in her husband's attention. Bill has admired me like that whether I am wearing sweatpants or an evening gown. I know exactly how Beth feels.

But in another scene Alex kidnaps Ellen and takes her to an amusement park. They ride a roller coaster while poor Beth drives around like a crazy woman trying to find them. She ends up in an accident and has to wear a giant pathetic looking cast on her arm for the rest of the movie.

I started having an anxiety attack and the anger I felt toward Alex was palpable. How dare she take my--I mean poor Beth's child and put her on a roller coaster? The very idea of someone having the audacity to take my child and put them in peril illicited murderous thoughts in my mind. I don't mean murderous in a metaphoric way either. I. Mean. Murder.

My husband seemed to sense my stress or he was eager to get to the showdown between Alex and Beth in the last scene because he fast forwarded through that section. I was grateful. I don't think I would've handled watching it all that well.

When Dan confesses to Beth about the affair she gets on the phone and tells Alex, "If you ever come near my family again, I'll kill you," and hangs up. What a a bad-ass. She speaks for all Mothers to anyone who dares to f*** with our families. I hoot-hoot hooted, applauded, and fist pumped my support.

Alex was no longer the vulnerable and fragile victim defended by Glenn Close and some obsessed theater students. She was a woman who knew a man was married and slept with him anyway. It takes two to tango. The man doesn't have to do it and neither does the woman.

Sorry Glenn, you're on your own. Still a good movie, though.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Running As Fast As I Can

I am a runner: which is to say I am not a runner but a "runner wanna be" who started a walk/run program last week and feels really cool. As if I'm a runner. Even though I'm not. It's fun to say, "I am a runner." It's also fun to say, "I"m gonna go for a run." or "I gotta get my run in."

I was perusing an online running magazine and one of the experts told a novice they could call themselves a runner even if they were doing more walking than running. I like that. It seems to me that the running community is an inclusive one with an "I think-therefore-I-am philosophy. I ran into my friend Janelle at Fleet Street in Old Town. She's been running for years. I told her I was just getting started. She said, "Welcome," and gave me a hug. Runners are nice. Maybe runners should run the world.

My chronic body pain does not make me the best candidate for a running program. As I explained in my post "For the Sake of Exercise" having babies has thrown my body out of whack. In the past six months I've also added two herniated discs and physical therapy in order to be able to turn my head without pain or my arms going numb. I should probably be doing yoga or pilates; something with no impact. But I don't wanna. I wanna run. So, I'm gonna try. After all, isn't life in the trying, and the patience, and the perseverance?

So far, I have made it sixteen minutes on the treadmill with no foot pain. Yesterday, I tried to go for twenty minutes and my feet started to hurt. I looked up proper running form on YouTube. I think I'll join the Run Club at the Y and get some tips.

My friend Heidi is a runner and regularly sets goals like 5ks and half marathons. Her baby weight melted off of her and it keeps her sane. When she describes running as her outlet it sounds as romantic as any novel with Fabio on the cover. I want that romance. Just me and the open road, running free.

There's an 1980's film that stars the late Jill Clayburgh called "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can" It's based on the memoir of a woman named Barbara Gordon; a filmmaker addicted to Valium who suffered a total breakdown when she tried to quit cold turkey, was kidnapped by her live-in lover and ended up institutionalized. Okay, that doesn't relate to my running at all but I do like the title. And I like the fact that even though I'm "running" super slow, I am running as fast as I can. And that is just fine.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Dream of Pajama Jeans

I was visiting my dear friend Arlene and bless her heart she opened the door and greeted me with, "You look fantastic. What are those jeans?" I jumped up and down like a twelve year old at a Justin Bieber concert. "You wanna know?" I teased as I removed my jacket in order to reveal the jeans in their full splendor. "They're PAJAMA JEANS!" I exclaimed as I danced and accented my moves with several booty shakes and spins. "No!" Arlene countered. "Yes!" I yawped. "Yes!"

I was out to lunch with my dear friends Lori and Curtis and I could hardly restrain myself, "Wanna know a secret?" I sipped my coffee as I waited for their reply. Lori looked worried and Curtis as usual was non-plussed. "No, I'm not pregnant--I'm wearing Pajama Jeans!" Their reaction was not quite as enthusiastic as Arlene's but I still reveled with pride in my reveal.

Pajama Jeans are denim on the outside and sweatpants soft material on the inside. Pajama Jeans are featured in a fantastic commercial that usually airs late at night or during female-centered programming. When I first saw the commercial I marveled and guffawed. I thought the idea was brilliant if these pants were legit but Pajama Jeans were a punchline in no need of a joke. They are currently skewered in the mainstage show at The Second City in Chicago and the commercial itself is custom made to be mocked.


When people say, "Jeans are sooo comfortable," I'm convinced they are lying in the same manner that women lie when they say their eighteen inch stilettos are "Sooooo comfortable." Jeans are constricting, and scratchy, and if they fit correctly I feel like the circulation in my thighs is being cut off. I simply cannot wear them but I like the idea of them. Jeans match everything. You can dress them up and you can dress them down. On occasion, I just want to dress like everyone else. I get sick of jersey or dress pants, and skirts with tights. By the by, for me, tights pose the same challenges that jeans do so I can hardly ever wear skirts in winter.

I wanted Pajama Jeans but I wasn't completely convinced I could get away with wearing them. If they did offer the comfort they promised how could I possibly sport them without people knowing they were Pajama Jeans then consequently pointing and laughing at me behind my back. My dignity was at stake along with my pocket book. Pajama jeans were forty dollars and only available online.

I'd been played before by ordering the Total Pillow online only to be completely disappointed. I couldn't get all my money back because it would have cost me more to ship it back or something along those lines according to the Total Pillow Rep on the phone. He said they'd let me keep it and refund some of my money instead. "So that's how you ensure you make a profit!" I admonished then hung up the phone. I would not be fooled again by taking a gamble and ordering Pajama Jeans no matter how tempting.

Then one fateful day I was at the Dominick's and in the cardboard hut section where they sell anything from therapeutic pillows, to novelty mugs I saw Pajama Jeans. One pair left. In. My. Size. My heart was a flutter and I rejoiced in the fact that I could take them home, try them on, have a good chuckle and then return them because they didn't do what they were suppose to do.

But something incredible happened when I returned home that day. My pajama jeans looked AMAZING. And they were really comfortable. Like sweatpants-after-Thanksgiving-dinner comfortable. Could it be? Had my blue jean prayers been answered?

Arlene went online and purchased a pair for herself before I left her house. She's considering them as presents for several of her friends. Everywhere I go, I am complimented and another woman devoted to her "sooo comfortable" jeans is inspired to buy a pair and know a comfort she's never known before. Pajama Jeans may be the best kept secret around but I feel it's my duty to pass on the good news.

Pajama Jeans! Pajama Jeans! Pajama! Jeans!

Sometimes dreams really do come true.

Monday, May 16, 2011

For the Sake of Exercise

I have taken Zumba, Cardio-Boxing, Aerobics, Yoga, Balance Ball, Nia, Pilates. I have walked the track, treadmill, lifted weights, power splashed, and balance balled. I have pushed myself under the direction of exercise instructors who wanted me to hurt just a little for a greater gain. And I have hurt. My body has ached for days after a workout and somehow that has meant that I did something good for myself. I was strong and deserved good things.

I have exercised to maintain or lose weight. I've used exercise as a way to stave off the consequences of overeating, a means to battle depression, and as a supplement for control. I've never exercised for pleasure. It's always been an obligation bordering on a chore. Despite that, I've always been a good exerciser. An A plus student who teachers sited as a good example of form and posture. I did every move required of me, never hid in the back, and always stayed until the end.

Then I had my babies.

Audra was 8 pounds, twelve ounces. I had to do physical therapy for a few months after she was born because my pelvis was out of line. I use to walk down the street leaning on her stroller as if it was a walker. After six months, I was able to get back to exercise and felt relatively fine.

Drea was 10 pounds, six ounces; no c-section and my body has never been the same. My muscles are tender like they've been bruised on the inside. My fingers are often numb. My shoulders are tight and in perpetual need of massage. My lower back is kinked and the bones in my feet feel like they might crack if I take the wrong step. According to my doctor, I do not have fibromyalgia and I am as healthy as a horse. Physical therapy did buptkus.

Regardless of these symptoms, I tried all the exercises I used to do because letting go of exercise somehow meant I was weak, would never lose the baby weight and gain an additional one hundred pounds. Inevitably, after a workout, I was left feeling like I'd been dropped off the top of a tall building and landed face first on the pavement. For instance, Nia is an exercise based on fluid, dance like movements. Participants work at their own pace. There is no impact. The median age in the class is usually sixty. The instructor says things like, "You're a wood nymph, a wood nymph! Flit around the room." When I took a class, I worked at a turtle's pace and barely lifted my arms over my head. When the instructor had us circle the room several times, a woman who was 70 if she was a day passed me on the left. The next day I needed a triple dose of Ibuprofen just to get by.

Consequently, I haven't exercised regularly for close to a year and a half and although I like showering first thing in the morning and getting dressed in real clothes as opposed to sweatpants that I end up staying in all day, I miss it.
I took care of the baby weight my losing twenty five pounds with Weight Watchers so I've been alleviated from the pressure to exercise in order to produce results. I've discovered that I miss moving continually though space with purpose for the benefit of my body and mind. Who'da thunk it?

I'd notice AOA on the exercise schedule at the Y for some time now. AOA stands for Active Older Adult. An "Active Older Adult" is anyone fifty five and older interested in classes described as "a combination of chair and standing exercises designed to improve muscular strength and flexibility." Take out the age minimum and they could have been describing me. I decided to try it. I hoped there'd be no reverse age discrimination and they'd welcome me with open arms and let me move my aching bones.

The class was like exercising in a big, warm, hug. The instructor and classmates called me, "Sweetie," and "Honey." At one point, one of the students; a retired music teacher, sang an old Swedish song while we did a combination in our chairs. And it wasn't too easy. The moves were actually challenging to this forty-one-year old-post-partum gal. I have found my Elysian-Fields.

These classes aren't going to burn many calories. They aren't going to train me for Iron Man. But they are going to be a place I can go and give good energy to my body, oxygen to my bloodstream, and peace to my soul. For the first time, exercise will be friend not foe. That has been a long time coming.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mother's Day; Never Forget

I remember watching my Mother in the family room ballroom dancing with my Dad while we waited for the babysitter to come.

I remember I told her that I just had to have the Mother Karen Jacket everyone was wearing at school so she stopped making dinner after a full day of work, drove me to a store where they were sold and bought one for me.

I remember Saturday mornings she would wear her hair in two long braids that made her look like a Cherokee Indian and a big kid.

I remember, "Jokes should be far from the truth."

I remember, "If someone trusts you with a secret, keep it." Consequently, I will take a person's secret to the grave unless otherwise directed.

I remember, "Give me five minutes to walk in the door before you start asking for things." I've said the exact same thing to Audra. Payback.

I remember her bringing one shoe to a purse store or a purse to a shoe store in an effort to find the perfect match for an outfit.

I remember she always looked fabulous.

I remember in fourth grade she came to my class and spoke about Haiti then made me wear an elaborate Haitian costume for "The Parade of Cultures" that took place in the gym. I was mortified. She took a lot of time getting that costume together.

I remember crawling in bed with her when I was sick or scared. Best. Sleep. Ever. Audra does it now and I cannot deny her.

I remember her handing me a crumpled brown paper bag on my birthday with an impish grin. It had the Tiffany bracelet I wanted inside.

I remember she saw every performance of my high school production of Mame. I played Mame. The box office knew her by name.

I remember.

I hope she remembers. I hope she knows. She is a good Mother.

I will never forget.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why a Teacher Oughta Be Rich

Recently, a former teacher friended me on Facebook. She taught me theatre in high school. In other words, she instilled my work ethic, discipline, and a love of the rehearsal process. She supported my ambition and drive while teaching me how to set a goal and work toward achieving it. On her lunch hour, she would help be practice for auditions. She gave me the one and only A+ of my academic career for a monologue I wrote based on a painting. Most importantly, she saw my talent, not just the color of my skin which was black amongst an almost all white student body. She was Caucasian as well.

Mrs. Barry cast me as Miss. Hannigan in Annie my sophomore year. The boy who played my brother Rooster was white. Nothing in the script was changed. No questions were asked. My junior year she cast me in The Wiz as the Wicked Witch; not Dorothy. The Wiz is the all black musical version of The Wizard of Oz. At the time I was horribly disappointed and indignant. “How could she not cast the only black girl as Dorothy?” I railed to the heavens. I wasn't right for Dorothy. That was how. The character Evilene better suited my comic timing and ability to play broader characters. I wasn't the ingenue then or now. Never will be. Them's the breaks kid.

My senior year, she cast me as Mame. I was playing a musical theatre icon immortalized respectively by Rosalind Russell and Angela Lansbury on stage and Lucille Ball in film.

The character of Mame is a high class Manhattinite with a white nephew. The story is set during The Great Depression and World War II. As Mame, I had white servants and fell in love with a white man from the South. Colorblind casting in traditional LaGrange, Illinois; 1987. Mrs. Barry was not going to let the color of my skin prevent her from casting who she felt was the best candidate for the role. She was a pioneer.

I’d experienced losing a role because I was black in grade school. Nobody told me as much, but I knew. My grade school had four black kids at the time I attended; me, my sister, a girl named Melissa and a boy named Earl. Every year, my grade school did an all-school production. Each grade performed and a group of kids served as narrators tying all the sketches and songs together. The narrator characters were siblings. The conceit was that they found various items in their attic that inspired the scenes they introduced.

I was the only student of color who auditioned for one of the siblings. I kicked some grade school-ass. That’s not ego, I swear. Only a handful of kids auditioned at all. Some were inaudible, others not quite right. I didn't get cast.

After the teacher announced the names of the kids who would play the siblings my face fell and I caught the teacher’s eyes. I caught the teacher, really. Her face was full of shame. Clearly embarrassed, it’s almost as if I could hear her say, “I know. I just can’t. I don’t know how.”

There’s this thing about prejudice or racism that can be hard to understand unless you’ve experienced it, personally. When you feel in your gut that there is a form of prejudice taking place then hands down there is some form of prejudice taking place. It’s the same as thinking you smell gas in the house. You can’t see it or touch it but it’s prevalent. It is there.

The fact that Michaellene Barry, unlike the grade school teacher, did "know how" and didn't go with the safe choice, empowered me. I am no longer an advocate of colorblind casting which asks an audience to overlook the color of a person’s skin. I advocate non-traditional casting which encourages diversity and creativity in the casting process. What matters, though, is at a crucial time in my development, I had someone who did not choose to limit me because I was not white. I had a teacher who took her time and nurtured me. Her attention single-handedly enabled me to believe that hard work mattered; that I mattered. What a priceless gift.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Long Lost Never Forgotten

I ran into a woman I went to grade school with the other night. My husband and I were at a benefit and she was at our table. I hadn't seen her in almost thirty years. I didn't recognize her right away. When I first saw her, I felt she was familiar but I couldn't place her. I didn't even try to do the math. I just figured she looked like someone I knew once.

At one point, everyone started introducing themselves. When I gave my name she spoke it with me and then said my last name with a big smile. "How? How?" I asked as I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders trying to convey that I felt like I knew her but couldn't figure out why. She told me her name was Laura then said, "St. John of the Cross." Our grade school. A rush of warm feelings came over me. I had the fondest memories of this girl; now a woman. I realized that she looked exactly the same. Her hair was still down to her back. Always tall, she was now six feet. In school, she had a light, joyful energy and she was always nice to me.

We weren't quite friends in school. She was in the grade ahead of me with my sister Lissa who passed away over twenty years ago. Spending time with someone who knew my sister and is currently the age Lissa would be had she lived put my head in a strange place. I wanted to move across the table, change seats with her husband and sit next to her; up close. Throughout dinner, I kept looking her way hoping she wouldn't catch me staring. She was a window into Lissa's past and unwritten present. Laura had four kids. Lissa could have had four kids. Laura had a Masters in Education. Lissa was in college at the time of her death. Would she have graduated and gone on to get a Masters Degree, too? Who would she have been?

Laura and I had a lovely chat and everyone at the table was delighted by the small-world-wonder of our encounter. Somehow it felt as if Lissa was there because someone who shared in her life was there. Through Laura, I felt Lissa's presence.

I miss my sister. Her birthday is today. She would have been forty-two. It's been so long since she died that there are few people who are currently in my life who even knew her. My husband has never met her. My three year old daughter doesn't yet know that she has another Aunt who is in heaven. It's hard to know when to introduce the concept to someone so young. I had an opening when we were reading together but I chickened out. The moment is coming soon. She will know about her Aunt Lissa. This I swear.

I'm grateful that synchronicity, or serendipity, or chance, grace, or God put me at the table with my long lost past. My sister. Long lost. Never forgotten.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Reach Out And Leave Me Alone

On March 6th, 2010 I posted an entry entitled "Parental Theatre" "The problem is," I wrote,"that as parents we haven’t given people (outside family or paid employees) the permission to help us even though we desperately need it." This was in reference to being left alone to handle my two and a half year old's tantrum in a restaurant. Nine months pregnant and utterly defenseless, I was convinced that strangers should have stepped in and offered their assistance. I claimed that I would not have been offended. With a kumbaya-spirit, I encouraged people to reach out and help me and each other.

Fast forward to February 14, 2011. I had to run a quick errand with my now three and half year old and nine month old daughter. My oldest, dressed in her princess-best informed me she did not want to go by screaming at the top of her lungs and throwing her hat at me while I tried to finish a conversation on the phone while parked in the lot of the grocery store. Her screaming and whining continued throughout every aisle while I tried to get what I needed and did my best to ignore her.

I'm a fan of letting kids cry. Let me clarify. When my daughter is in full meltdown mode and I know she is not in jeopardy I see no reason in trying to manage her tantrum. Reacting only fuels her fire. So, I let her kick, yawp, and moan. People marveled at her lung capacity and longevity as they passed by. In between deep cleansing breaths, I teetered between losing it and laughing it was so absurd.

At our last stop, Audra had convinced herself that something actually was wrong and was full on crying, with tears, red cheeks, quivering lips; the works. I made sure she wasn't sitting on something sharp, her temperature hadn't suddenly spiked, and she hadn't swallowed anything poisonous. She was fine so I recommitted to ignoring her after I wiped her tears and said, "I'm sorry you are upset."

Then, Grocery Store Lady (a store employee) flew up to the cart. "What's wrong, sweetie? Are you having a bad day?" Audra's fingers were in her mouth. "Is something wrong with your teeth honey? Are you teething?" Audra nodded. Audra is three. She wasn't teething but she had finally gotten her audience. "Oh," the woman empathized. Audra's crying reached the stratosphere. "That can really hurt," Grocery Store Lady informed me. Thank God. I had no idea teething hurt. "Can I give you something? Will that make you feel better?" Audra nodded, again. "Is that okay, Mom?" the woman asked. Nice of her to ask me after she already asked Audra. Even though I knew it would be a quick fix, I didn't want to reward Audra for her behavior. I told the woman I didn't think it was a good idea but the disappointment on Grocery Store Lady's face made me buckle under the pressure.

The woman went behind the counter and started blowing up a pink balloon. I looked at Audra who had a most satisfied grin on her face. We stared each other down like Clint Eastwood impersonators. Her smile grew wider and I had to hold my face tight so I wouldn't show any teeth. Audra-One. Mom-Zero. Grocery Store Lady-Below Zero because she should have stepped aside and not gotten up in my bizness. I didn't need her help if it was going to get in the way of what I was trying to do. I mean, did she think I wasn't aware that Audra was crying? Did she think she was saving the day by coming to the aid of this poor child whose death Mother couldn't hear her cries? Why didn't she pick up on the I-am-ignoring-you tactic I was clearly employing?

Grocery Store Lady couldn't have known what I needed, of course. She is not a mind reader. Nor is she my co-parent. Not her job. Now I see that unsolicited help is not helpful. Help when there is some cue that the parent wants help is helpful. So, forget most of what I said in that other post (though some of it is still very wise) Instead, remember, in most areas of life, keep your eyes open, don't judge and stay out of people's carts (especially when there is a kid in it.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In Defense of Barbie

Recently, I lost myself in the Barbie Exhibit at the Indianapolis Children's Museum. As soon as I hit the entrance I was swept into to all the good feelings of my childhood. As my three year old daughter busied herself at the Barbie reception desk and spoke on the Barbie princess phone, I could hardly wait to run ahead and take in all the sights.

There were life size Barbies in gowns, Barbies in haute couture by designers like Vera Wang and Bob Mackie. She wore an elaborate get-up with a mermaid tail that would fit right in at a Miss. World Pageant. Barbie represented every decade. She apparently ran for President and was a Soccer Star. Barbie was there in every version a grown woman, er little girl desired.

My husband sat in a corner of the exhibit waiting patiently with a rueful grin as I ran around with a smile from ear to ear. He doesn't like Barbie. He'd rather not have his daughters play with her because he believes she upholds an impossible ideal that makes girls hate their own appearance.

Granted if the original 1959 Barbie were real, her measurements would have been 39-18-33. Poor thing would have cracked in two. Mattel has since adjusted the measurements but I'm certain her traits aren't anywhere near the plus size region. Ooh, Plus Size Barbie! I like it. They did have the Rosie O'Donnell Barbie for a minute. That was progress, right?

Unlike my husband, I want our daughters to play with Barbie. When he protests, I argue that I played with her and turned out just fine. (Insert his joke here.) I tell him it never bothered me that I didn't look like a doll who was 11.5 inches tall. Besides being average height, my skin is black, my hair was in pigtails, and I wore glasses. I didn't want to look like any of my dolls; not even Black Barbie. Looking like Barbie wasn't the point of playing with Barbie. The point was to use my imagination. Barbie helped develop my creativity and sparked my desire to tell stories.

I created obstacles for her to overcome; triumphs and failures. I mixed and matched her outfits, and transformed the couch in my basement into a two story home by making the cushions the upstairs and the area in front of the couch the family room and kitchen. I could play Barbie for hours without ever thinking about turning on the television. I learned about focus and follow through.

I played with Barbie until the seventh grade; past the socially acceptable age in my neck of the woods. I was part of a secret society of girls. We were sort of like Fight Club. Rule #1--You did not speak about Barbie. A few key words and nods of the head helped us recognize each other in plain sight.

I am way, way, past my Barbie playing years but I want to thank her for always being there, never judging me, doing whatever I wanted, and making me very happy. No harm done here.