Monday, February 13, 2006

So That's How Things Are In Their Family

I am in the Poconos. A region whose classic rock needs are served by Rock 107 FM, which is giving away tickets to an upcoming Motley Crue concert. I was listening on Saturday night while making dinner and some guy--Kevin?--was the winning caller. Kevin from Exeter. You won tickets by being the first caller to identify whether an audio clip was from Tommy Lee's sex tape or Vince Neil's. I had no idea that Vince Neil had been working in that medium as well. So the DJ says "So Kevin, are you sure it's Tommy Lee?" And Kevin laughs. "Heh. Yes, I'm sure." Some banter about the concert ensues, and then when the DJ asks who he's taking, Kevin, who sounded no older than, maybe, 38, answers: "My pregnant stepdaughter." From the tone of his voice--an audible, Grinch-like smirk, heh-heh--it was clear he couldn't wait to tell the whole of Northeast Pennsylvania that.

My mother and father were married 35 years ago today. They honeymooned in the Poconos the weekend after they were married--just a weekend because, my father now says sarcastically and ruefully, thinking about the maniac workaholic he was, he had to go to a sales training session that started the Monday after. Lest you think my parents were not romantics, there are pictures of my mother in a heart-shaped bed. As a child those photos to me seemed the height of....well, I guess I'll say adult glamour. And I think I was more fascinated at the suggestion of a their having a life before they had my sister and me than embarrassed by that suggestion. Who were these people, lying around in bed, who now relentessly, heartlessly, rout us out of ours? Now that I'm older, I'd say that there's a little bit of Breathless meets the Mount Airy Lodge about those photos. My mom, at 23, sort of looked like Catherine Deneuve, if Catherine Deneuve did the bookeeping for the business office of a car dealership with one younger sister and had another one who worked at the proto-Sizzler steakhouse chain Rustler. In the way that my sister sort of looks like Gwyneth Paltrow, if Gwyneth had been raised on Birds Eye frozen vegetables and reruns on UHF. Cheers to my parents, and here's hoping I can build things that last that long.

P.S. Why wasn't Cheney the one that got peppered with pellets, not some nearly octogenarian (though Republican) lawyer? More proof that we are living under a Teflon administration: Did you all read that story in the Times about a major Italian study showing that (duh) aspartame causes cancer in lab rats? Apparently Searle, the company that devised aspartame back in the 70s, was headed by Donald Rumsfeld during the years it submitted most of its research on the safety of the chemical to the FDA. The studies' credibility was seriously questioned, and the justice department suggested a grand jury investigation, but the lawyer who was tapped to look into it went to work for the law office that represented Searle soon after, and the investigation went nowhere. Then Reagan became president, appointed a new FDA chief, and aspartame was quickly approved. This won't just give you hives about your Diet Coke addiction.