Mean Jean in the House
Here we sit in relative calm, our home having passed the imagined inspection Sandra Bullock assumed her mother would conduct upon her arrival this afternoon.
The jawa and I endured the frenzy of cleaning cluelessly at first, then with a little resistance, and then, finally, by retreating to our respective hiding spots -- him in his bedroom with Legos, me downstairs with the NBA playoffs. Once safe in the basement, I remembered that, while the anticipation of guests always results in insane cleaning by S. Bullock, the pending arrival of her mother, the unsinkable Mean Jean, whips her into a Tasmanian Devil-like cleaning fury usually seen only in the wee hours of the morning, following the hosting of a party.
Ironically, Mean Jean asks nothing of us. Unlike the cliched domineering, demanding mother-in-law, Mean Jean generally strives to make the smallest impact as possible on the lives of her hosts. I have never heard her say one negative thing about our living conditions, save for the time she visited us in North Beach, and that was more an amazement that anyone, not just us, could live in such crowded quarters, than it was direct criticism. Her daughter has married a dreamer with a career drift rather than path, and yet she has never complained or belittled me. At least not when I'm in the room, I guess, and that's plenty admirable in my book.
The city is a riddle for Mean Jean, who, along with her peaceful, crew-cut second husband has twice chosen to spend their retirement in rural paradise. They recently moved to Lake Chelan, a small town in central Washington State, where they are building a gorgeous log home with unobstructed views of the lake and surrounding rolling hills.
I had a busy day as a realtor today, and so was out of action until the conclusion of normal business hours. By the time I returned, my wife had returned to her usual, semi-relaxed state. I entered to find M. Jean and S. Bullock enjoying Cointreau margaritas with chips and salsa, all laid out attractively in a terra cotta bowl made specifically for that purpose.
By Friday, I will be coming at you from Santa Monica, where S. Bullock and I, sans jawa, will join the Boston-based Fusco Parents and our Santa Monica-based friends who live, compared to us, like Rock Stars. We met both couples during preschool here in San Francisco. The Fuscos fled when their third (3rd) son was born, to avoid a potential $60,000+ per year in grade school tuition. The Rock Stars, who pursue flashy careers in advertising and film, went south for career opportunities. They have two (2) kids. We have one (1) jawa. You do the math.
We love entering the fast-moving world of the Rock Stars. They lived pretty large here in San Francisco, once sending a busload of people to the San Jose Film Festival for a screening of Rock Star Terry's short film. Since moving to L.A., they have ratcheted it up to another level entirely. We met Helen Hunt's boyfriend at their son's 5th birthday party.
Our jawa will stay here with Mean Jean, who will have the opportunity to learn more about Bionicles and Judaism than ever seemed possible during the first 60 years of her life. I am concerned that she will not be able to produce the accurate representations of "Star Wars" characters' voices that I have frankly nailed while reading the novelization of "Episode IV: A New Hope" with the Jawa for the past couple of days.
Here are some tips:
C3PO: Effete, upper-class English accent. Generally exasperated in tone.
R2D2: Beeps, whistles and blips.
Storm Trooper: put hand over face and talk as if speaking into a walkie-talkie.
Vader: James Earl Jones. End of story.
Catholics out there, make the sign of the cross and give your best wishes to Mean Jean this week as she enters a flashback period of child-rearing. Then again, she raised S. Bullock and her brother, Little J-O-E, all by herself, so she is more than capable. We have great faith.