I should say at the outset that my Mommy was a lady and a Republican and I am neither. She would never use the term "ripshit", wouldn't know what it meant, and wouldn't want to know.
If she was alive, facing the prospect of having our beloved awards shows cancelled by a strike, she would likely mutter something like this: "those G-D (goddamn) writers. Ruining our shows? If they had to slave away like Grandpy did during the Depression, and he had TB!"
Mommy was not very sympathetic to anything that smacked of collectivism, but her ire here would have been provoked simply from the loss of the shows she looked forward to watching with her daughters every year, inside a nice house on a lovely street that had nothing of value inside it, like, say, cable or even color TV, until the late 1980's.
Nearly ten years after her death, I still get unreasonably excited by the approach of award season. I try to relive those star-kissed programs of the past, when Mommy would make popcorn on the stove (was there any other way?), and I would cuddle up, and get my education in Hollywood, the town that Mommy called "a fleshpot, a real lefty fleshpot".
Mommy conveyed her knowledge of this lefty fleshpot as if Elizabeth Dole had suddenly taken on Joan Rivers' job: she was ladylike, brutally honest, up on the gossip, and always added a dash of conservative commentary. Where Mommy amassed this knowledge is still a mystery to me, because mostly we watched MacNeil Lehrer, Wall Street Week, and Firing Line. If she ever watched, say, Entertainment Tonight, I never saw it.
This year I'm missing the chance to snuggle up by myself with popcorn, and Mommy's memory. But I still hear her voice ricochet in my head, and the phrases she would use to describe various stars, their politics, their scandals. They require some translation.
"He's a real carouser." A drunk Mommy liked, and perhaps even fancied a bit.
"He's just a no-good stumblebum." A drunk Mommy did not like, and scorned.
"So sad, The Drink just destroyed him." A hopeless drunk that Mommy liked, but regrettably had to write off.
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph, here we go..." Mommy's preface for what she suspected would be a left-leaning acceptance speech.
"That no-good husband of hers, look what he did to her!" Star she liked, who had become perhaps impossibly fat or dissolute, through no fault of her own, of course, but because of bad company.
"Well, he IS a bit light in the loafers." Flaming gay star who she couldn't help but like, despite her fervent Catholicism.
"They used her as their money bags, and look what they've got now." Directed at pushy parents of drug-addled child star.
"There was something funny about that baby of hers - (irish whisper) DOWN THERE!" Baby born with, say, both sets of genitalia or the like.
"That woman. How she could have done that to her poor retarded baby?" Someone who carted off their disabled child to an institution, never to visit.
"Class Act. A real Class Act". Mommy's famous fantasy husband. Think Jimmy Stewart.
"Who is that dark Clooney?" The Clooney who mattered in our house was Rosemary, and, secondarily, Nick, dashing host on American Movie Classics. But she did have this to say about a young George....
"That dark Clooney, well, he is quite virile." Translation: he is one sexy mofo.
"Get ready, here comes the P-L-O!" Preface for appearance of Palestinian advocate and actress extraordinaire Vanessa Redgrave.
"That girl. She's a real Floofadot." I can only guess this mysterious word came from Mommy's French Canadian father. It meant a likable, flighty girl who might have been on the edge of badness. but came through with her winning ways. Like, say, Drew Barrymore.
"Scram-ez-Vous, Meathead." Her strong desire to see Rob Reiner leave the podium, immediately. See also, "What a Budinski! Stick to acting, not politics."
"That man. THAT MAN!" Cue angry harrumphs and disgusted gesticulations. "What Mommy?" I would ask. "It involved (irish whisper) A LADY OF THE NIGHT! And he left her to burn alive!"
These days, I look forward to making (microwave) popcorn with my own child, plunking him in front of award shows (think Ugly Betty's nephew), to give him my own Hollywood round-up, with a dash of liberal commentary. As in, "Scram-ez-Vous, Chuck Norris!" Maybe my son will say "what does 'Scram-ez-Vous mean, Mommy", and I'll say, "let me tell you something about your wonderful Grandma....."
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