You were Dynamite, Kid.

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I read a few weeks ago with wistfulness that the professional wrestler Tom Billington had died at his home in England.

Wistfulness because I am now at the point in my life where important parts of my childhood and growing up have started dying with regular occurrence.

Tom Billington wrestled under the name “the Dynamite Kid” since his start in 1979. Back then, wrestling wasn’t flash, steroid-abusing, pumped-up long-haired loudmouths. There was a lot of technical moves, holds, flips – it was more about slipping out of a grasp than spectacle.

My sister and her then-boyfriend would take me to see Stampede Wrestling on Saturday nights in Edmonchuck. Nearly a decade older than me, and stuck babysitting, she found it was something that would keep me occupied and captivated while they courted. I remember asking for boyfriend’s cigarette pack and a pen, then going up to Keith Hart (son of Stu Hart, brother to Bret Hart, and the rest of the Hart wrestling franchise) as a 12-year old and asking for an autograph. He was gracious, with a very cute smile and bushy moustache. I was hooked. We came back to Stampede Wrestling a lot. And of course, watching it every Saturday morning on CTV with Ed Whalen (or “Wailin’ Ed” as his nickname went, because of his nasal voice), keeping up on who won the belts, who beat who… I probably should have gotten outside a bit more as a kid!

Dynamite Kid appeared on the scene and shook the dust off of everything. He was small (5’9”), skinny, and quick. The presence he brought to the ring was undeniable. Explosive, exciting, energized, he would handspring out of holds and risk dangerous maneuvers (like headbutting his opponent by jumping from the top of the turnbuckle) to win the crowd’s favor. There was always a roar and a buzz that went through the arena when he entered and wrestled. He was so popular and successful that a generation of other kids who thought, or were told, that they were too small to wrestle, emulated his moves and his tights, right down to the same haircut.

It was fun. I was less annoying to the dating couple when I was entertained. Plus, there was always cold pop and a hot dog or some other not-so-good-for-me snack as a bonus.

There was a definite melancholic smile on my face remembering all the things I used to do to get through the long winters up in Canada. I like to think it made me well-rounded – it’s good to know about what people do for entertainment. It tells you a lot about them.

I know that Tom Billington’s out-of-the-ring persona was well-documented as nasty. He and his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, bulked up and joined up as the tag-team “British Bulldogs” and it got away from the wrestling I remember and more into spectacle and schoolyard taunting and bullying that I didn’t care for.  I lost interest, and truly, I don’t know enough about it to comment. I just know, that the Dynamite Kid, fresh on the scene, made a huge impression on me. He was an enormous, notable part of my growing up in prairie Edmonton, Alberta. I hope he finds some peace now. Or at least respite from a pained, broken body.

Fat-Bottomed Girls…

We really DO make the rockin’ world go ’round. Yeah.

In anticipation of Seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Sunday, I’ve been listening to my old Queen albums. I’ll never forget hearing “The Game” in my friend Andrea’s bedroom. It was 1980, we were in Grade 7, and I was still pretty much into a lot of my sisters’ music – The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Peter Frampton.

The first single, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was a favorite because to me it sounded a lot like an Elvis/50s rocker mashup and in addition to me liking it, my parents did as well. I loved that my mum would dance and swing me around to the big guitar strums.

I will admit, I’m still into more lyrical, dare I say even “folksy” artists – Joni Mitchell being the be-all end-all. I guess I am such a wordwhore that the poetry and ballad-like stanzas that could stand on their own is what captivates me.

Then, I heard “Another One Bites the Dust” and my head exploded. Lights, camera, action. That bass line, the way Freddie slinked all over the melody, velvety and sexy, then blew my ears off on the bridge – my world opened, I exited the log cabin and began to see in Technicolor, and I was off to see the Wizard.

Rami Malek looks like he channeled Freddie. I hope the premise of the movie is about ALL of the singer’s life, and not just his voice and songwriting. He was multi-faceted, and even though there are plenty of parts of him that most people don’t want to know, or deal with, it’s important to see that at that time in history, he was just who he was, and he didn’t care who knew it.

He is unparalleled vocally. There will never be another Freddie. I am so glad for that early summer day in 1980 when the doors of all types of music (not just the AM radio singles) opened up to me.

Rest in peace, Freddie. We sure could use your words and your voice right now.

Hut! Hut! Life’s Little Lessons…Experienced Through Football.

I love football.  I just wanted to put that out there before I said anything more about it.  I’ve loved it since my Dad and I watched the Edmonton Eskimos from the “new” Commonwealth Stadium, in the late 70s.  He got season’s tickets and we would huff and puff up those cement stairs, to our seats, on the aisle, about three rows from the top.

“Geez, Dad, how come we can’t get tickets a little further down?” As I’d collapse into the seat (and take off my oxygen mask and crampons).

(Google Earth snapshot of the stadium, and where our seats were)

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He’d just smile, light up a cigarette (you could do that in the open air stadiums back then), and say, “No, hen, then you couldn’t see the PLAYS develop.  Up here you can see all of what’s going on.  I don’t need to see their faces, I’m interested in the big picture.”

So there it was. I learned to watch the Offensive Line shifts, the audibles, the shotgun, the fantastic way the CFL is that the Wide Receivers can be in motion towards the line of scrimmage before the play starts, and the intertwining of routes making their way down the field. It became more about the team, and their progress, than individual efforts.

Of course, the Canadian playing field is 10 yards longer and almost 12 yards wider.  It really does avail a more wide-open game.  And just 3 downs to get the job done?  Difficult.  Really difficult. 1st down, you get a few yards, 2nd down, you don’t quite make it, you’re a yard or two short? That’s it, you gotta punt or try for a field goal.  Your offense has to be a little more effective and on the ball (pardon the pun).  Even my husband has been brought over to the CFL side and marveled at its expansive, fast-paced beauty. (That is, when our provider actually decides to show the games on its Canadian affiliate).

And don’t hit the goal posts! They are positioned at the front of the end zone (which is 20 yards deep instead of the NFL 10).

Commonwealth Stadium is also where my Dad taught me about sportsmanship.  Like any eleven or twelve-year old, I had developed deep loyalty (read: crushes) on many of the players on the football team and would defend them to anyone.  One year, during the Labour Day (and yes, it IS spelled with a “u”, thank you) series between the Esks and bitter provincial rivals the Calgary Stampeders, on a glorious, prairie Fall Sunday afternoon, with a huge bright blue sky above, I nearly had smoke coming out of my ears at one of the more vociferous, and quite drunk, Stampeder supporters.

He must have been, maybe, eighteen (at least, because he was drinking a stadium beer and the legal age is eighteen), lithe, shirtless, hairless (his chest), with the feathered/banged dirty blonde shoulder-length hairdo popular then. He was tanned and had sun crinkle lines on his face that made me think he worked outdoors. His team jersey was tucked in to the back of his jeans, and the red shirt hung past his bum crack and down to his knees.

Any time, and I do mean ANY time, the Stamps made any kind of good play, he would stand up, beer in hand, and turn around to the crowd above him and just gloat, eyes narrowed, mouth set in a “mmm-hmmm!”, while his other hand displayed an index finger jutting skyward in a “#1” motion.

It was about all I could stand.  I wanted to throw my pop at him (pop being my Coke, in a big plastic cup).  My Dad saw the steam coming out of my ears and said, “What’s wrong?”  I answered, “That dumb guy is making me so MAD!  I just want to throw this at him and show him how WRONG he is!”

My Dad’s eyes softened and he made that funny little noise he made when he was amused, that wasn’t quite a laugh, but a hard outward snort through the nose (I’m pretty sure it’s a distinctive Scottish trait, but I could be wrong), and said to me, “No, wee Neecy, he paid his money just like everyone else for his ticket, and he’s allowed to cheer for whoever he wants to. You’ve got to respect that, and don’t let it get to you.  Just enjoy the game, even if your team isn’t winning.”

I was a little too young to grasp the gratitude he was expressing for, again, the big picture.  The aforementioned beautiful day, spending time with his daughter, surrounded by people who were (mostly) on the same side cheering.  Glorious.  I was a lucky little girl.

The intent of this particular blog was to talk about how difficult it’s getting to watch American football every week – with the rage, the injuries after practically every play, and the poor sportsmanship shown a lot of times by the players – having to humiliate and subjugate the other player that they’ve tackled, or ended up on top of.  I find it really crude that after a play, the defensive guy will pretty much get up from the feet of the player he’s tackled, and walk OVER him to make sure that the player on the ground sees defensive guy as the Alpha Male, and gets a face-full (or facemask-full) of his obviously superior junk.  Why don’t you just pee on him too? (Would that be a penalty? How many yards?)

But, I will leave that rant for another day… I have too much of a good feeling going on now, thinking about those truly halcyon days of watching football with my Dad, the lessons I learned from him, and from the game, and strolling down memory lane.

To me, that’s what professional sports should do – unite the people of the City and show us how alike we all are, and not focus on the differences we have.  Go ahead, you may say I’m a dreamer.

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I Won’t Be Muzzled.

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I won’t be muzzled.  I won’t be leashed and held to heel.  Having spent the better part of my 20s and 30s thinking that I wasn’t a “nice” girl, having to swallow my anger so much that I blew up like a blimp, so that every time I experience the feeling of anger, I cannot even hold on to it, instead I dissolve into tears.  I no longer want to slowly kill myself with food and unfelt emotion.  I’m tired of watching life pass me, thinking how glorious and shiny everyone else’s life is as they achieve goals, try new things that frighten them, put themselves out on the line, while I sit in the corner and hope you don’t notice me.

It’s simple, but it’s a difficult concept to grasp.  I know.  If you don’t like me (and that’s OK), feel free to change the channel.  If you don’t like the words I write, don’t read them.  Believe me, they’re not about you, or trying to hurt you.  They are simply me, trying to understand, me.

I no longer have to be a people-pleaser and throw myself into despair knowing that you don’t like me.  I can’t grovel on the ground or hide under a quilt while you assert your dominance and superiority over me. I’m tired of putting my energy into trying to make you like me, rather than spend that energy on those who really do.  Those who, time after time, have been there for me.  Have opened their hearts, their homes, their lives, to me and mine; have never told me that I’m disgusting and that I should be ashamed of myself.

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This immense globe that is my home, I want to see as much of it as I can, with the person that means the most to me, my husband.  If that means that I’m flying away from the nest, be happy for me.  Wish me success and happiness and love as I traverse it, and don’t be sad or resentful that I’m away from you. My journey may not necessarily be your journey, or more likely, the journey that you wanted for me.  But it is distinctly and utterly mine.  I do not regret a millisecond of it.  All of it has made me who I am today, and you know what? It’s pretty amazing.  And, maybe, the choices I made have made it difficult to stay in touch, to know me, but instead of looking at that as a defect, why not look at it as an asset? An old Chinese proverb says that sorrow shared is sorrow halved; happiness shared is happiness doubled.

So, I’m different than you.  I believe different things.  I do different things.  They aren’t Canadian differences or Scottish differences, or American differences… they’re just differences.  Does that make me less of a human in your eyes?  Or less worthy of your love and your respect (if there ever was any there to begin with)?  Because I have not lived my life how you lived your life, or believed what you believed, there is no room for me in your consciousness?  I can’t live on crumbs any longer.  I am not satisfied to get what you give me and call it manna from heaven. I can’t be.  The world is beautiful, and huge, and ugly, and scary, and beautiful again, and I want to taste it all before I die.  And I will die, just as everything on this planet dies. What can I do in between now and then?  I can love. I can live. I can accept myself exactly how I am and where I am right now.  And then, if I want to change it, I can.  But I cannot change without first seeing myself as I really am.

Why must you seek to rein me in, like I am some thunderous wild Appaloosa who just needs a tighter bit to champ at in her mouth and the spurs dug in a little deeper to her sides?

Do you think I do what I do for spite?  To hurt you?  Do you really think it’s about you?

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

A junior high teacher wrote as a comment on a paper I had turned in, “Why settle for the Moon, when you can reach the stars?” I’ll tell you why: because the Moon is closer, and all the people I know are there, and it’s safe, and known, and most of all… it’s not as lonely as being in the stars is.

But there comes a time when you know you must leave your Moon home and head off to your rightful place among those points of light.  The journey’s beginning is easier that second time, because the pull of the Moon is nowhere near as strong as the pull of the Earth.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

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As hard as we try not to change, we are doing so every minute, every second of our lives here on the planet.  Trying NOT to change is the worst feeling in the world.  Change is natural.  It might as well be a synonym to evolution (oh wait, it is).

This is a picture of my hometown.   Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Coming up Connors Road, past the Muttart Conservatory, toward Strathearn and Bonnie Doon.

It’s in my rear view through a mirror, because Edmonton is forever changed for me now.  This picture was taken in September 2012.  I was home visiting my parents, the third such trip that year, because I was worried sick about my Dad.  It’s the last time I saw him.

Edmonton is a great city.  It was an amazing place to grow up – safe, comfortable, expanding, a little hick, a little slick. Living there requires a certain inner strength – particularly to get through the winters.

That last trip there, I borrowed my Dad’s Chrysler and filled up the tank, and just drove.  I remembered all the places I used to drive with him – Jasper Ave. to pick up my Mum after work; 17th Street where he worked; 109th Street where Grama used to live; my sister from the CN tower, where she worked.  I’d go everywhere with him. He had a little bit of the Traveler in him, and thank God I inherited it.

Dad taught me to drive – again in a Chrysler, this time a burgundy LeBaron – after getting me set up with Driver Training the summer I turned 16, I would be anxious to go with him, and this time get behind the wheel.  Dad was an assertive driver – some would say otherwise, in not so nice terms, but I am forever grateful to him for helping me with learning the privilege of driving. And learning how to do it well.  In thirty years of driving I’ve had two infractions – one for pulling a u-turn trying to get out of traffic on the way to my Dr’s office when I miscarried and was bleeding so badly I had to be hospitalized; the other, driving my husband’s car, and being behind a jerk who was texting and talking on his phone, and when I briefly honked to get him to go (as the light had been green for a few seconds), he went, then stopped short again, and not knowing this car as well as my own, I slammed on the brakes but couldn’t stop, and barely tapped his bumper (even though he harangued me and was verbally abusive, and got a whole new bumper and paint job out of it).

Lots of people are intimidated in the car with me.  I do admit, I’ve had some anger issues, and swore a lot, and maneuvered my Mazda as if it were a Porsche, but I don’t think I was ever reckless. I’ve been in cars with drivers who are worse – not confident, unsure, so scared of getting into an accident that they’re actually a liability on the road – and I’d rather be a passenger with my Dad.  I don’t think I was ever frightened when he drove.

Anyway, I got in Dad’s car, and I eased onto the roads I had once known like the back of my hand.  Edmonton is a growing city, and the vast open fields and spaces, on the roads into it, from my childhood were virtually non-existent anymore.  Yes, it was from growth, but also a little from that weird realization that everything was bigger, farther away, took longer to get to, as a child.  I remember my Western Civ teacher telling us the one way to really realize how much time had passed and how we’d grown was to reach for the doorknobs in our childhood home.  That perspective of eye level triggering memories was the harbinger of seeing how old you were.

So, with the car as my eye and the rest of the city as my doorknobs, I set out to see how much I’d grown. And how much it had changed; but mostly, how much I had changed.

The trees were so much taller.  I’d been around when a lot of them were being planted, slim trunks roped to iron bars to help keep them upright – now towering above me and their canopies full and lush.

The Walterdale bridge, close to the river and the water plant, still hummed as your tires went across it, but it was much quicker than I remembered.

The High Level Bridge, by the Legislative grounds, sucked the car in to its narrow two-lane tunnel, and dumped me out right where I had my first kiss from the man I went to Boston for – the High Level Diner. Wistfulness and sentiment washed over me.  I turned east onto Whyte Ave., and had to pull over.  The tears were streaming down my cheeks.  On my left was Gordon Price music – a favorite hangout of mine while at Grant MacEwan in the Theatre Program – I would spend many a Saturday afternoon flipping through sheet music there.

It’s also the last place I saw my Grama.  We had spent the morning together, shopping, doing errands for her.  I told her I wanted to go to the music store and look around, and would she mind waiting?  She said, no, you go on, I’m close enough to home, I will just walk back.  I didn’t want her to, but she insisted.  So I hugged her tightly and gave her a little kiss, and went off to search the aisles.  A few minutes later, I saw her, putting her face up to the plate glass front window, her hand shielding her eyes so she could see in, and I waved to her.  She saw me, waved, and smiled that wonderful smile she had, and blew a kiss, and walked with her little boots and mink coat, home.

If I had known…

How many times do we have to say that to ourselves before we learn?  Before we say “I love you” so they know. Before we look one last glance at them so we’ll remember them.

So that’s it.  Edmonton’s changed.  I’ve changed. Life’s changed.  It’s forever colored with the memories of all these lasts.  Yes, there were a lot of firsts, too, which I do remember, but it’s the lasts that are breaking my heart, that have so much of me tied there.  When did it change to that?  From the place of all my firsts, now just a place of my lasts?  It’s painful. Maybe that will change too.

I’m Your Biggest Fan…

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(Franz Bischoff painting of the Arroyo Seco)

Early evening.  This is my favorite time of day.  It’s also my favorite time of year.

In California.

Early April, not too hot, the green starting to explode on the hills… Jasmine, that fragrant, heady harbinger of Spring.  The quick, look-fast-or-you-miss-them sunsets.

Those smells in the air, the light getting longer.  Better than the straight up hot spotlight that daytime and noontime give you – it burns me, more than just my skin.  It’s so bright, nothing is hidden – it wants in, and I don’t let it.  I haven’t let it.  California has not been my home for 15 years.

I’ve just lived here; it’s never felt like “home.”  Mostly because i didn’t want it to – I loved Canada, and as much as I loved Canada, I loved Boston a hundred times more – my heart broke leaving it, but now, fifteen years on, the heartbreak has lessened ever so slightly, and I am OK that I did.  I’ve grown up in California, in more ways than one.

I first visited when I was ten or eleven, some tween age.  My parents and I drove down from Canada to visit relatives here.  It was July, I do remember that – we were trying to get there for my birthday but didn’t quite make it.  We stopped off in Utah or Oregon somewhere; Mum and Dad bought a cake and surprised me with it at the hotel pool, where strangers and newly-formed friends sang to me.  We drove for hours and hours, and made it the next day, and then, when my Aunt scooted me out of the kitchen that night, my feelings were hurt, I didn’t know what was going on.  Then came the cake out of the darkness, half-eaten, the writing smooshed, “Hap Birthd Ber” only visible, with candles on it, and I felt special. Two nights of birthday cake and two nights of singing. Another relative made me feel like a princess – “I’ve got a special gift for you!” My eyes lit up and I smiled… “What? What is it?”  She pulled out a little velvet bag and said softly, “Make-up!” It was Clinique – a boatload of samples and “specials with purchase” that you get when you buy a certain amount.

I couldn’t breathe.  I spent the rest of the night, and the subsequent days we were there, highlighting, bronzing, glossing… I was in heaven.  Best tween girl present… ever.

My Aunt got me a powder blue lunchbox, with Vinnie Barbarino on it.  The rest of the Sweathogs were on the inside, plastered round the thermos, with their stock sayings next to them, grinning out at me.   But there Vinnie was, with his long, feathered dark hair, that goofy smile… and what did I say? “I HATE Barbarino!!”  Ugh.  Ten year old kids can be brutal.  I did go up to her afterwards and thank her and gave her a big hug.  She was smart – she knew that thing would be a collectible in a few years… too bad I don’t still have it, I might be a gazillionaire!!

The place where we stayed is less than a mile from where I live now.  Same town, one major street down the hill.  I pass by that house every day on the way home from work.  The big palm tree out front is gone, and the ivy’s been replaced with some grass and some terracing, but I still remember it.  Their house was so beautiful – it had a pool, and a cabana, a big patio, huge flowers, ivy everywhere.  When we went to Busch Gardens the day after arriving, I snipped a flower off the huge bush (were they peonies?) and my Aunt put it in my hair for me, in a beautiful big bun.  This place seemed unbelievable.  The sun was shining all the time.  There was so much to do, and everyone seemed happy and casual.  Shorts, tees, flip-flops.  My cousin had a yellow VW Beetle and she drove me around, telling me about the enormous tortoise at Knott’s Berry Farm (or the Zoo, one of the two), that was so huge, you could sit on him and he’d walk around.  I’m pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head.

Anyway… I’ve gone off on a tangent.  What i really meant to write about, was that for the first time since I’ve been here, I feel at home.  Is it because I’m a homeowner now?  Or the fantastic job?  The sense of not having to do everything the way other people do things here?  Yes, there are lots of fun things to do, and be, and see.  But, the one thing that California does promise, is that there is something for everyone.  Literally. I’m 25 miles from the ocean, maybe less, and I haven’t been to the beach in years.  And that’s OK.  I love the ocean, but not the Pacific.  I can’t smell it when I wake up, like I did the Atlantic in Boston. It’s different.  And that’s OK.

You all know I’m soft on Joni Mitchell.  Have been since I was a young teen.  “Blue” of course, was a seminal album of the 70s.  Like “Frampton Comes Alive” was standard issue to rockin’ teenagers in the suburbs all over, “Blue” was standard issue to the emo teens of my day (how cool IS it, really, that artists and their works are used as measuring sticks in the passing of time? A lot of other great stuff happened, but music and the arts help break it down for us, in ways we don’t even consciously comprehend.  That’s why I loved theatre so much, especially as a teenager.  I loved going to those amazing architectured halls and seeing that immediacy, that intimacy, feeling and seeing people having those forbidden things – emotions – and feeling them along with those on stage, and being able to take the lesson, without the horrible consquences.  What magic.  It’s still like that for me today too, but I’m so annoyed with the cell phones, the candy wrappers, the nose blowing…).

Joni talked about Paris, France.  Reading the news and it sure looks bad (it always looks bad in the news, don’t it?)

That was just a dream some of us had
Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn’t want to stay here
It’s too old and cold and settled in its ways here
Oh but California

Oh…but California… indeed.  Will you take me as I am?  Will you take me…as I am? Will you?

I hope so.  I’m taking you as you are… and you’re lovely.

California, coming home…

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall…

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I am my Mother after all.

I realized this, sitting at the breakfast table on a Sunday, much like the one that just passed.  Now, you know when you know something, but you don’t really admit it, or think maybe well, I don’t know it… you can continue like that, in denial, for a long, long, time.  Then one day, it’s just absolutely apparent and you can’t deny it anymore, and you accept it, and it’s fine. Because it’s already been like that for quite some time, and the only person really who didn’t know it, or believe it, was you.  And everyone else has been fine with it, too.

I am.  There’s no use denying it.  And I’m really, really, OK with it.  I like to think that I’ve added my own flavor to the mix – upping the ante a little on it – to be me, and her. And then sometimes, when I speak, or say certain phrases, or laugh, I immediately recognize my sisters in myself.

Recognition.  More than just an outside resemblance.  Sharing the same DNA, being forever impacted by listening to how someone answers the phone.  Or belly laughs at a joke.  The color of the eyes and the hair may be different, but there is no doubt, when you strip away the things that we try to make ourselves individual with, to be our own self – that we are all related.

Not only was that Sunday a Mum moment, it was a total Bea Arthur moment.  Bea has been a favorite of mine since I was just a kid.  I envy my sisters in some way because they grew up (and by grew up, I mean the really formative teenage years) during “All In The Family” and, “Maude” and, “The Carol Burnett Show” and, to a lesser extent, “Good Times” and, “The Jeffersons.” I remember my oldest sister babysitting me on nights when my parents bowled, or had date night, and we would curl up on the couch and watch these shows.  She would laugh so hard at Archie Bunker’s exploits, tears running down her face.  I didn’t get it.  I was too young, or too naïve, or both.  All I thought is, “Why is she laughing? He is the meanest man in the world.” Not until later, during re-runs, would I see the brilliant humor and incredible writing and acting on that show.  I did get Carol Burnett, though.  I loved her Tarzan yell, and “Madame,” “Mrs.-a-Whiggins,” and the old lady with the blond hair and tights with the crotch down past her knees.  I had such a crush on Lyle Waggoner.  Those teeth!  But my favorite, my absolute favorite, was Harvey Korman.  The timing that man had.  When he passed away a few years ago, I remember reading what Mel Brooks said about him, “We would look at each other, and fall into comic ecstasy.”  When he tried so hard not to laugh, and Tim Conway would just work at Harvey, sides heaving trying not to go, and Tim would just do one little thing and Harvey would be gone.  I loved it.  Comic ecstasy – is there anything better, truly?

And then, there’s Maude.

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Let’s face it – Bea Arthur was the QUEEN of the slow burn.  Talk about impeccable timing.  I had no idea what the subject matter was, again, too young, but I knew control when I saw it.  When the camera would settle on Bea, and she would stare, then turn, infinitesimally bit by bit, toward her husband, squint, steel her eyes, and say, “God’ll get you for that, Walter.” I fell about laughing, every time.  I tried to perfect that move.  You can ask my husband, I’m pretty good at it.  He laughs, but I know every time it happens, there’s a teeny speck in the back of his mind going, “Oh shit. Is she kidding?  Is she not?” And I try to draw it out as long as I can before I break, giggling.  Sometimes I’m not kidding, but then I end up giggling anyway, as my hubby is just too sweet to be mean to, and I forget half the time why I’m annoyed, just gazing into his gorgeous, sea-green eyes… but I digress.

My Mum has always been great at this – her timing was always spot-on too.  You never knew what she was going to say, but you knew it was going to be good.  I wish I had written down so many more of them – they get me through so many incidents in my own life – but people don’t always get the humor and are offended.  Maybe it’s my timing?  Mum was always so quick on come-backs!  Me, I’m more like George Costanza three days later in the mirror going, “Jerk Store!! I’m going with Jerk Store!”

Completely innocuous questions, or statements; they get turned upside down, and leave you thinking, “Wait a minute!  What just happened here?!?!?!”

I love listening to stories of her younger self, in Scotland, making the boys work if they wanted to dance with her –

Boy:      Are you dancing?

Mum:   Are you asking?

Boy:      I’m asking.

Mum:   ……I’m dancing.

Could be yes, could be no… there’s always that slight hesitation before learning the answer.  That anticipation was killer.  Then there’s this one, said to an American while he was over there:

American:          Gee, I really love the way you Scottish girls roll your “r’s!”

Mum:                  Thanks… it’s my high heels.

I’ll wait.

Let you catch up.

Got it? Good.

And, the best ever, was asking for anything.  Whatever it was, you had to go through the gauntlet to get it –

Me:       Mum, can I have a bike?

Mum:   A WHAT?

Me:       A bike, Mum, can I have a bike?

Mum:   I’ll bike YOU!

Completely interchangeable, believe me, as witnessed here:

Me:       Mum, can you make meatloaf tonight?

Mum:   Make WHAT?

Me:       Meatloaf, Mum, can you make meatloaf tonight?

Mum:   I’ll meatloaf YOU!

I don’t even know what it means.  But it’s hysterical.

So, I think I had an absolute obligation to do what I did that Sunday, after breakfast, when I walked outside to the garden; with bedhead, Birkenstocks, a pink housecoat, a cup of coffee, and huge round sunglasses covering my bunny eyes – when my husband did a jig, and burst into song with, “And then there’s MAUDE!”

I took a sip of my coffee, looking over the tops of my glasses at him as I did, and threw my best Mum/Bea Arthur slow burn at him, paused, and said, “God’ll get you for that.”