The other day I went to see the movie, “Gravity,” with my family…in 3D…at IMAX. Anyone contemplating seeing this show should bring ear plugs and a whole lotta Dramamine. Watching Sandra Bullock float around the universe in a space suit specifically designed to mimic the age-related, bodily deterioration of baby boomers was depressing.I, too, have had moments of being lost in space, when I’ve wandered about in fevered delirium in strange and hostile territory. This usually occurs upon entering my kitchen.
But the whole concept of gravity is unsettling. Basically, gravity is the force of attraction by which terrestrial flesh tends to fold into the center of one’s body and leak over the edges, causing a ripple effect and wreaking havoc upon said body’s bladder.In addition, it creates furrows and facial ruts the size of the Wasatch fault line that sends us all running for magic elixers and plastic surgeons. And that’s not all. Gravity shrinks us by inches, and we become shorter under the weight of our own vanity.
Gravity has been on my mind, because recently I was invited to be a guest at Dennis’ class reunion. As I renewed old acquaintances, I realized gravity is the great equalizer. No one there went unscathed from the prodigious humiliation of a great migratorial shift south of our collective equators.Old friends spoke in present tenses and past tenses, as we got caught up and reminisced about the days before our mail was largely comprised of doctors’ bills and advertisements for hearing aids; the days before we needed extra quilts even on warm nights; the days before we mastered the technique of flushing a central venous catheter; the days before our latest surgery was the main topic of conversation.
That night I realized we had all become clichés of time and gravity. I loved it.
I mention this because my grandson, Abram, spent a long weekend with me while his parents were out of town at a soccer tournament, and he had obligations at home. I was thrilled. I adore the kid.Abram and I are usually on the same page. However, we’re not the same age.
So one day over a warm bowl of chile, he casually asked how Grandpa’s reunion was. That was all the opening I needed. I began to rhapsodize and made him a captive audience of a nostalgic soliloquy potent enough to produce a memory-lane-induced coma.
Sounding a little like Edith Bunker screeching “Those were the days,” I prodigiously recalled the time before gels and mousses when guys smeared Brylcreem into their hair in quantities that rivaled a gulf stream oil slick.
Abram didn’t know what Brylcreem was. I explained that it was like lard on steroids. The guys anointed themselves in ridiculously gratuitous amounts, no doubt hoping it would trigger amorous responses from the girls. Amazingly, it did!We girls had “do’s” that made us look like Einstein with a bad perm…in drag. It was cool back in the day.
And we all smelled like Elsha and Aqua Net.Abram kept ladling the chile. Good chile inspires good dialogue, especially the way I make it. The recipe calls for equal parts radioactive atomic particles from a spinning vortex somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle, and Arza Bateman’s chile beans that produce peculiarly articulated gut noises in the night, eliminates inertia, leaves one slightly light-headed and causes even Cossacks to weep.
Of course, this amounted to conversational extortion. Abram was a captive audience of one…he didn’t dare leave the near vicinity of the bathroom.Continuing my narrative despite watering eyes, I told Abram that my mother absolutely forbade me to pierce my ears. She thought piercing your ears as scandalous as shaving your legs before marriage. It simply wasn’t done. Of course, those were the days before pierced tongues, penetrated navels, perforated eyebrows and (wince!) punctured mammary glands.
Abram asked if we danced at the reunion, which launched me into even greater previous-life reverie. I told him we used to surf, twist, and watusi. However, we DID NOT TWERK! (Come to think of it, the bunny hop might actually have been a precursor to twerking.) But at no time whatsoever did we dance with foam fingers!
Abram sat there like all kids his age, moving about this planet, lean and sinewy, his body defying gravity and full of the right neurons to fire and pop, making it possible to fold into outrageous contortions and immediately resume its original position, without brute force or morphine drips. How I envied him.I sat next to him, like the cinnamon bun I used to eat and had now become.
We were both clichés, Abram and I, – youth and age – grounded by gravity and bonded by chile and DNA, drawn into each other’s stories by the force of attraction.
I wouldn’t change a thing.