Visit with the Comedic Optometrist

“Today’s fun started when the assistant asked me if I’d be willing to have my eyes dilated. I do not like having my eyes dilated, but if it’d help the doctor see in my eyes… ‘Okay,’ I said. As she was putting the drops in I asked, ‘So why don’t they dilate the eyes of pregnant women?’ The assistant said she wasn’t sure, but they didn’t put the eye drops in the eyes of pregnant women, nursing women, or people with one kidney…”

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

I had a visit with my optometrist today, and, as usual, I left feeling like I’d just participated in a stand-up comedy act. My optometrist and my dentist are two of the funniest folks I know. If I wasn’t paying for their health care services, I think I might pay them just to make me laugh.

Today’s fun started when the assistant asked me if I’d be willing to have my eyes dilated. I do not like having my eyes dilated, but if it’d help the doctor see in my eyes… “Okay,” I said. As she was putting the drops in I asked, “So why don’t they dilate the eyes of pregnant women?” The assistant said she wasn’t sure, but they didn’t put the eye drops in the eyes of pregnant women, nursing women, or people with one kidney.

That last bit sort of caught me up short. The assistant…

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The Great Tzatziki Sauce Adventure

I’m just now beginning to clear out the mountains of flotsam and jetsam that have washed ashore in my home the last couple months (it has been an epic couple months – enough said). In the tidying (“tidying” is surely the wrong word to use – but I don’t know if there’s a strong enough word for what we’ve got going on here), I came upon the brochure for the Pompeii Exhibit my sons and I attended at the Seattle Science Center during Memorial weekend. The Pompeii Exhibit had been a last-minute thing – I’d managed to buy three of the last tickets for the night before the exhibit closed down and went back to Naples. Ever since I’d read a story about Pompeii in a National Geographic years ago, I’d been fascinated by what archaeologists found there, and was pretty excited to have the opportunity to see it all for myself.

But when I came upon the brochure, the first memory that came to me of our time in Seattle wasn’t of the exhibit – but of an observation my eldest son had made about two hours into our adventure – and I started laughing out loud.

Background: The day hadn’t gone as I’d expected. The roads to the Science Center were unusually crowded, there was road work going on which led me to turn where I don’t usually turn, and finding a parking spot seemed surprisingly difficult. I remember thinking that the Pompeii Exhibit must be really popular.

We’d finally managed to find a parking space in a parking garage and walked over a pedestrian bridge into the Seattle Center. As we entered the Center I noticed official-looking people handing out fliers – this was my first clue that we’d walked innocently into a major event – and then, as we stepped past the gates into a colossal mass of humanity I remembered – duh! – Memorial weekend is the annual weekend for the Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center. Folklife is HUGE!!! – a zany, eclectic extravaganza of dancing, art, and music – bagpipes, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and folk music blending together and filling the air with a lively (and kind of weird) cacophony of chords and non-chords. And people EVERYWHERE!

Okay. Soooo…..

We were all hungry and decided that, instead of going to the Cheesecake Factory – which had been our original plan – we’d just buy something to eat at one of the Folklife kiosks. We decided to get gyros. Once we got our gyros we started to look around for a table we could sit around while we ate – but there was no table space anywhere – so we began looking for somewhere to, at least, sit. After we’d been walking for maybe five minutes, one of the sons pointed to my shirt and grinned – my gyro had leaked out its white sauce all over my front. I am not exaggerating. I was covered in Tzatziki sauce.

Desperate now to eat my gyro I plunked down, cross-legged, onto the lawn near the Seattle Center fountain and began to eat my oozing, dripping dinner.  I was so obviously in need of help at this point that a kind young father noticed my struggles and, laughing with me at my predicament, handed me a wad of baby wipes from his family’s stash. I tried to wipe off the gyro juice, but I just seemed to be embedding it deeper into my shirt. Finally I threw what was left of my gyro away, and went in search of some place I could hose myself down. I held out my shirt in front of a faucet in a restroom and washed out the Tzatziki, then looked around for a dryer – but this appeared to be one of the few restrooms left on earth that had paper towels instead of dryers.  So I tried to brush myself off with a paper towel – but the little tan fibers from the towel stuck to my shirt, looking something like… well… puke.

I came out of the restroom. I looked at my sons. They looked at me. When we’d found we were in the middle of Folklife Festival we’d decided not to go to the Cheesecake Factory, but now I really wanted a piece of cheesecake. That half of a juicy gyro just hadn’t done it for me.

I thought I knew where the Cheesecake Factory was from the Seattle Center. We boarded the monorail and alighted near Fifth and Pine. I knew the Cheesecake Factory was on Seventh. I began marching up Pine, the sons following behind me. And this is when my eldest son said the line that had me laughing out loud in remembrance a month later: “So we get to the place where the Cheesecake Factory is supposed to be, and it’s been blown up and demolished, and Mom looks at the vacant lot for a minute, and then moves on to the next thing.” And just as he finished saying that line, we got to the corner of Seventh and Pine and I looked across the street – to the place where I thought the Cheesecake Factory should be – and found myself looking at a vacant lot. I looked at it for a minute – in a sort of stoical acceptance – and then wondered if maybe the Cheesecake Factory was at Seventh and Pike instead of Seventh and Pine. Our little troop turned right, walked a block, and found the Cheesecake Factory.

The rest of our evening went without a hitch – we had our just desserts at the restaurant – and it was great! – and then went back to the Seattle Center for the Pompeii Exhibit – which was also great!

But a month later, when I found the Pompeii brochure, what I remembered first was my son making me laugh on the corner of Seventh and Pine.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Bagpiper in Hawaiian shirt at the Seattle Folklife Festival (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell).

When We Care More About the Extras than the Movie’s Stars

You know there’s a problem with a movie when you find yourself more concerned with the movie’s extras than with its stars. Twice in the last week as I was flipping through TV channels, I came upon movie scenes that had me wanting to tell the lead characters to have a little consideration for the people in the background, please.

The first of these scenes came when I found myself watching the end of a romantic comedy called Picture Perfect. The movie’s hero (played by Jay Mohr) is, apparently, a wedding videographer in the movie. The movie’s star, Jennifer Aniston (and I like Jennifer Aniston – this is not about her), walks down the aisle behind the bride and down a pew to confess her love to the hero. While he is trying to do his job. While the wedding is happening. While the bride and groom are experiencing, we can hope, the one and only wedding of their lifetimes. The videographer tries to shush Aniston’s character – but she will have none of it – she must give her spiel right then, right there – never mind about the other couple’s wedding. The hero has to turn off his video recorder, so that the Aniston character can apologize for all the grief she’s put him through and yada yada. Meanwhile, the wedding stops. The focus is no longer on the bride and groom. Everyone is watching the shenanigans betwixt Aniston and Mohr. And when they kiss, everyone – including the exceedingly gracious bride and groom – applauds. And then – in the background – we see the bride and groom finally getting a chance to kiss – as, you know, a sort of by-the-way. And as I was watching all this play out, I felt myself getting really indignant with Aniston’s character. What the heck?! Couldn’t she wait until the other couple’s wedding was over to pledge her love and stuff?! Did she have no respect for the videographer’s job?! Did she think everything was about her?!!! I found myself shaking my head and feeling really sorry for Mohr’s character – it was obvious to me he was getting himself hooked up with someone who had a serious personality disorder.

The second scene that I happened upon in my channel-surfing and that got me all fired up and indignant was a scene between Liam Neeson (again, I like him – this is not about him) and a character that I’m thinking must have been his movie ex-wife. (?) They were angry at each other – the woman was seeing someone else, and told Neeson that was none of his business. They’re yelling at each other as they go down a hotel hallway. They stop in front of the elevator, where another man is waiting to get on. Neeson turns to the innocent by-stander and says something surly to him that makes him go scurrying off. The elevator doors open. The woman gets in and then holds the doors open so she can deliver a last angry speech to Neeson about his many short-comings and so forth. But at this point I was no longer interested in either the woman or Neeson – I was watching the extras in the elevator behind her – the innocent by-standers caught up in this argument, who only wanted to ride the elevator up or down to wherever they were going, so’s they could get on with their lives. I felt bad for them. And then the woman turns to the extras and shows them her derision for Neeson. She says something like, “Oh, look at the poor baby.” And I found myself asking what in the heck Neeson saw in this inconsiderate woman, and worrying that maybe the extras weren’t going to get where they needed to go in time – held up by this couple who seemed to think the world revolved around them.

And I know that’s all silly – I mean… in these movies, the world really DOES revolve around the lead characters. Duh, right? But I was thinking it might actually be fun and kind of interesting to start a movie with a scene like one of the ones I’ve described here – maybe bring in big names like Liam Neeson and Jennifer Aniston – make the audience think that these are the people the movie’s going to be about – and then take a turn in the script – suddenly the camera’s not on Neeson and Aniston – instead the camera follows the bride and groom as they head off to their reception, or one of the people on the elevator as he goes off for his job interview – having to rush because Neeson’s ex-wife has made him late.

Now THAT’s a movie I might enjoy. 🙂

– Karen Molenaar Terrell