Friday, July 17, 2009

Here's To The Hangers-On

Where, I ask you, would celebrity news be without the most important gear in the wheel?

The close, personal pal.

The "insider."

The "source."

These "regular folk" who sometimes manage to snag a bit of the spotlight simply by virtue of knowing someone famous.

It's why people actually compete on a reality show for the chance to be friends with Paris Hilton. They don't really want to be friends with her, they want to be able to give an "exclusive" interview to several different media outlets the next time she punches someone at a club. Then get a movie deal and be rich and famous and happy forever! That's how it works, right?

My current favorite hanger-on? Miko Brando.

Miko is the son of famous actor Marlon Brando, best known for his role as Vito Corleone in "The Godfather." Miko is best known as Michael Jackson's friend and bodyguard, and in the last two weeks it has been impossible for anyone who has followed the Michael Jackson story even at a distance to miss this Close, Personal Friend Giving His Account of the Final Days of this Fallen Superstar.

I'll be honest: I hardly ever, ever watch the news. I don't check internet news sites, except Entertainment Weekly, and even then it's just to see if there are any new pictures of Rob Pattinson from the set of New Moon. (Yummy!) I learned about the death of Michael Jackson on Twitter. Even I have seen Miko Brandon no less than four times in the last two weeks. He was on Good Morning America this morning to comment on the "newly discovered" video of Mr. Jackson's accident when filming that Pepsi commercial in 1984. (Comment? Really? Beyond, "Yes, his head is on fire," what could you say?)

I believe Miko Brando was Michael Jackson's friend. But, if he doesn't stop making the media rounds, he's going to end up beating out the ultimate Hanger-On for the Uselessness Prize:

Kato Kaelin, anyone?

As quasi-obsessed as I am with pop culture, I admit this is something I couldn't do. I couldn't be a hanger-on. I would become too genuinely concerned with my friend and try to get him or her to change whatever crazy ways were causing him or her to careen toward destruction, thereby nixing my opportunity to give my Tearful Account to Star Magazine.

Here's what I mean:

Lindsey Lohan: once talented actress is now a punchline. Most recent kerfuffle: accused of stealing a spray-tan formula to market herself.

Hanger-On says: "Hey, it's okay, Linds! You're young! Who cares if you party sometimes and look like a Cheeto? Let's hit the club!"

Friend says: "You need some sleep. Look at you. You're what, 23? You look 47. Take a break, accept a cameo role in an important indie film, and get your artistic integrity back. You've still got a good shot at a decent life. Don't blow it."

See what I mean? The Friend ruins everything. The Hanger-On just enjoys the ride.

Then gets on the next one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I don't like it when people say things they don't mean for the sake of social convention.

I don't like it when people assume I'm saying things for the sake of social convention.

I never know when to respond to the statement as though it were heartfelt, or if I should give the polite, social response.


Deb: Hello, Old Friend! Who I haven't spoken to in years!

Old Friend: Hey! So good to see you! We should get together and catch up!

Deb: {Okay, does she really mean it? Should I suggest a time or day? Or is she just saying it to be nice? Pause growing awkward, say something!} Oh, that would be great!

Old Friend: Yeah, let's make sure to do that! {Exit}

Deb: Will never happen. {tear}

But I wonder...maybe Old Friend misread me. Maybe she was waiting for a clearer indication from me that I really wanted to get together. Hmmmm....

Old Friend 2: Hey, Deb! Great to see you!

Deb: It's great to see you! We should get together and catch up! {Oh no, it's on me now...}

Old Friend 2: We should!

Deb: How about lunch next week sometime?

Old Friend 2: I'll have to check my schedule and get back to you. It was great to see you! {Exit}

Deb: Dang.

Of course, I recognize that this isn't just me. It just feels that way, because I'm so introverted. I live in my head about 80% of the time, so putting things "out there" is scary. I don't think I'm completely socially inept (though rereading this entry has moved me to consume a Cookie of Shame), but sometimes the social niceties irritate me. My ideal conversation with my old friend:

Old Friend: Deb! It's great to see you!

Deb: It's great to see you! I would actually like to spend some time with you!

Old Friend: Me, too! I suggest you and I meet at this restaurant tonight to have dinner!

Deb: I would enjoy that very much.


Old Friend: Deb! It's great to see you!

Deb: Me, too! Although I wouldn't care to continue a lengthy conversation with you, I would like a brief update on what has happened in your life in the past twenty years!

Old Friend: I actually don't care that much about you, please just tell me how many kids you have and what you do for a living!

Deb: Will do! This was great!

Old Friend: See ya!


Monday, July 13, 2009

A Division of Labor

Sven and I have a good marriage. We love each other, we get along, we enjoy each other's company, and we have a lot in common. We've been together for 15 years. I'm starting to believe it will last.

When it comes to household chores, neither of us is what you would call "tidy." Or even "bearable." We each have our strengths (ability to ignore messes for a very long time) and our weaknesses (ability to complain about messes we have been ignoring for a very long time).

Sven and I each work, full-time, outside the home. We are both teachers. During the school year very little in the way of home maintenance is done. I keep everyone in clean clothes. Sven keeps the yard in compliance with the homeowner's association rules. We each do our part to make sure there is something to eat, though I confess more often than not that means Sven picks up the take-out and I throw away the containers.

During the summer, though, we "catch up" on a number of pesky chores that we simply don't have time for ordinarily, like sweeping, mopping, organizing, vacuuming, dusting, editing, and conditioning. Sven and I do a fairly good job of sharing the labor equally. There are a few "my" jobs (folding the laundry, tidying the living room) and some "his" jobs (lawn care, carpet cleaning), but dishes, laundry, cooking, and basic cleaning are shared responsibilities.

Which leads me to my question today: if there is a chore that has separate components, is it necessary for the same person to do each part of the chore? If not, should the workers collaborate to make sure the initial part of the chore is complete in a manner acceptable to the person completing subsequent parts of the chore?

Example: Dishes.

Sven and I have different philosophies when it comes to dishes. For instance, I load the silverware tray with the "business ends" poking up, so the part that touches the food gets clean. I also put a variety of utensils in each slot, because they can't stick together if there's only one spoon, one fork, one knife, etc. Sven says he doesn't like that, because it's harder to unload. While I can respect that, I'd rather the dishes get clean. Furthermore, Sven always manages to load the dishwasher in some crazy ninja way that prevents me from unrolling the bottom rack without dragging out the top one, meaning I have to unload the whole darned thing if I want a frying pan from the bottom left. Which I should do anyway. Don't judge me.

So who gets priority? The person who loads, or the person who unloads?

But the more important question: why do I care? In a sound, happy marriage, where I love my husband and he loves me, and we have two beautiful kids and adequate money coming in, two working cars and a nice house, why was I ready to scream at Sven today because he only washed spoons and knives and left all of the forks in the sink?

Is it human nature to look for conflict? Do we naturally look for the problems? Or is it just me?

I didn't mention it to Sven. (Yes, dear, I realize I'm mentioning it now, but only in an abstract, hypothetical way, not a critical one. You do the dishes just fine and I love you very much.) I unloaded the dishes, then loaded the dishwasher my way and started it. But I wondered: is this how those couples end up on Dr. Phil? You know, the ones where the man goes out and has an affair because his wife wouldn't ever let him fold the towels, because he "didn't do it right?" How many ways are there to fold towels?

Princess and Dexy are getting to the point that they are helping around the house. Dexy does it because he loves to help. He understands throwing things in the garbage, and does it so enthusiastically that we have to dig through our garbage to find forks, bowls, bills, and toys before taking it out. Princess is beginning to help because I'm making her. I stand over her for 10 minutes so she can do a job that takes me 30 seconds, but I tell myself I'm building her character.

But, it makes me happy that I really don't care how she puts the toys away, as long as it gets done. Maybe I'm making progress. I'm going to cancel that appointment with Dr. Phil...