by Katie McCollow
Hello friends! Isn’t it exciting that Medium Happy is turning 50? Where have the years gone?
Obviously I’m joking- we all know Medium Happy has yet to complete a trip around the sun (or publish any actual recipes, which I think we can all agree is highly confusing)-I’m the one who turned 50, and what better way to commemorate this milestone than share with you the dread I feel at having lived half a century, yet am still no closer to meeting Zac Efron?
I know what you’re thinking; “She couldn’t possibly be 50, she doesn’t write a day over 32!” and that is so sweet of you, really. Turning 50 is such a relief, to be honest- I’m totally going to embrace hearing “You write great for your age.”
My actual birthday was a few days ago. I asked my mother, “Can you believe you have a child who’s 50?!” and she reminded me that I’m the eighth of her nine children. I only tell you that so you know that compared to all of my siblings except one, I’m actually very, very young.
I’m not one of those people who feels melancholy about getting older, especially now, when there’s so much other stuff to feel melancholy about. Is it cognitive dissonance or menopause keeping me in a constant state of emotional whiplash? One calls for hormone therapy, the other, hardcore pharmaceuticals. Either way, these days I get a disturbing thrill from chewing stale Gummi Bears and then counting my teeth.
So how did I spend the big day, you ask? Well it was beautiful outside, and beautiful days have been in short supply this year where I live- I feel like I can count on one hand the days the sun has shone this fall, so I went for a run. As I was leaving, my husband, wracked with bronchitis, was attempting to use the last of his limited oxygen supply to blow up a giant, gold number 50, making me wonder if my birthday surprise would be widowhood. He lived, the balloons still festoon my front windows, and all is well.
He rallied enough to take me to do one of my favorite things later that night, sing karaoke. I have no explanation why it’s one of my favorite things, since it never goes well. I’m about as good at karaoke as I am at ordering off a menu. Hmm, steak, chicken, pork…oooh what’s that you say, tonight’s special is duck tartare? Sounds repulsive! Make it a double!
If I were to stick to my wheelhouse at karaoke, I’d choose something like, say, Happy Birthday. That’s not even true- my real wheelhouse, singing-wise, would be to not participate, but if Instagram has taught me anything, it’s that we’re supposed to do things that scare us.
Does Instagram really know what it’s talking about? Why should I do things that scare me? Why am I supposed to ‘breathe through it and let it go’? Is everyone I meet really fighting a battle I know nothing about? Insty insists I ‘Don’t sit on my ideas, stand by them’- what about that duck tartare idea that made me throw up for two days? But then my jeans fit for 10 minutes on the third say, so I guess it did make sense. Fine, Instagram, you win. For now.
Where was I? Oh yes, karaoke. My logical mind says just say no, but the part of me that loves it when you look screams Bohemian Rhapsody!! Impossible to sing, and cripplingly long! Why should I be the only one suffering? As Ellen Griswold says, “It’s Christmas, and we’re all in misery.” OK FINE. We all know the part of me that loves when you look is the whole part, and none of my mind is logical. Must you rub it in??
Enough with the birthday talk. I’m sure it’s obvious to all you smart people that it is but a red herring to keep from talking about the latest elephant in the room that’s stampeding through this country and tearing (what’s left of it) apart.
I’ll warn you right now- I hold an unpopular opinion on this latest shriek-fest, and every time anyone, even a supposed “loved one”, asks me about it and I speak my truth, they look at me like I’ve morphed into an Orc, take me out of their contact list and block me off their social media before I’ve even had a chance to swallow my muffin. And that was not a euphemism, although you will find a reference to it in my high school year book.
I’m talking of course, about the new A Star is Born.
It was OK.
I didn’t hate it! But let’s get real, there was not an easier mark in that theater than me, me who loves nothing more than a doomed love story with a great soundtrack. I sat down, settled in with my Kleenex and waited in giddy anticipation for the waterworks to start.
The good news: Bradley Cooper does a spectacular Sam Elliot impersonation. Also good news: the insomnia that’s plagued me since April is cured.
If you don’t know the story, stop reading (although I’m pretty sure most of you clicked off at the mention of menopause) because I’m going to reveal the whole plot right now. And if you don’t know the story, why don’t you? This is like the 47th iteration of this thing, and it’s a classic. Not knowing the story is like not knowing Darth Vader is Luke’s dad at this point. (Aaaaand there go the rest of you.)
So Bradley Cooper plays this grizzled old musician who’s super famous. He’s an unkempt drunk and looks like he smells awful. One night after a show, he goes to a bar and falls hard for Lady Gaga, a chanteuse with eyebrows made of hockey tape. Possibly duct tape, but I’m from Minnesota.
Bradley Cooper: Mraw mraw mrawwww mmmble
Lady Gaga: You’ve earned my trust so I’ll sing in this parking lot late at night! WAAAAAAAAAAHHHH (her voice causes a hurricane, but everyone lives because of paper towels)
Bradley Cooper: Mrawwww mraww mrawwwww braaaap less make out slurp slurp ima make you famuzz brrrhhhh
Lady Gaga: This stage is so big and scary I’ll cover my eyes and hopefully my voice can shake the foundation WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH (it does)
Bradley Cooper: Mraw mraw mraw bppppphttttt
Lady Gaga: I’m famous now so my hair is light orange!
Bradley Cooper: mrah mrah less ge murried yer n ugly sellout ahmm deaf
Lady Gaga: Drunkard!
Bradley Cooper: psssssssssssssssssss
He cleans up his act and swims in a pool, she cancels a tour and then there’s a sad part and a big number at the end. There’s also lots of dull shots inside the seventies-era dental office they call home, and Sam Elliot (oh- he plays Bradley Cooper’s brother) says the F word about a million times. And about halfway through it you say way louder than you meant to, “Omigod is that Andrew Dice Clay?”
B-. It’s this year’s Dunkirk or the year before’s La La Land. It’ll probably win a boatload of awards, and I’ll remain the cheese standing alone. But life is not all mediocre movies, friends, so here’s a list of-
Five Books that are fun to read in October
5. Dracula– I have a really cool version, with super creepy illustrations. Now, when I say I ‘read’ this, what I mean is, I crank “Before the Summer Ends” on an hours long loop and sing along at top volume until my vocal cords bleed. I don’t listen to the rest of the soundtrack because it’s garbage.
4. The Haunting of Hill House– The best kind of scary- the psychological kind. I’m looking forward to watching the Netflix version of this, mostly so I can marvel at how great Carla Gugino looks.
3. The Liner Notes of the special edition of The Greatest Showman. Always the right choice, no matter the month. And again, the thought of never meeting Zac Efron terrifies.
2. Wuthering Heights– OK, you caught me- I bucked tradition and didn’t read it this year, opting instead for Agnes Grey, which I’d never read because I didn’t even know it existed until I went to the library to check out Wuthering Heights. Have I been italicizing too much? It feels like maybe too much. Anyway I’m not going to read two Bronte sister books back to back. It’s gloomy outside but c’mon.
That’s the whole list. Five books in a month? I don’t have that kind of time, you sillies. Until we meet again, I hope you all have a very Happy Halloween!