Sunday, August 16, 2009

I hate surprises, but I hate suspense even more

Years of navigating the treacherous shoals of motherhood have given me a serious case of the nerves. Expecting the unexpected? It's all in a day's work for a parent, and to be honest, I've come to hate it.

You think everything is cooking along just fine: laundry's drying on the line, dinner's simmering on the stovetop, radio's playing your favorite song, and then: BAM!

"Mom! MOM! Aphrodite just threw up all over the livingroom carpet! MOM! Come here quick!"

See what I mean? It's awful. So much for those dinner plans. You're scrubbing vomit out of ancient Berber wall-to-wall, all the while knowing that this is just the beginning. Stomach flu has a way of traveling like lightning through a family of 6.

So the suspense! The suspense could kill ya! Who's next? When and where? What kinds of containment policies do we enact, effective immediately? Throw-up buckets distributed throughout the house? Draconian hand-washing policies? Child isolation tactics? The mother's brain immediately shifts into overdrive, formulating and reformulating plans of action, all the while knowing that resistance is most probably futile, and that the next few days are going to be a living, breathing (or holding-one's-breath) Hell.

I've been noticing over the last few years that my tolerance for suspense has diminished dramatically. So dramatically, in fact, that I have no tolerance for suspense at all. None. Perhaps it dates back to the robbery in Johannesburg, but I think it started before that. Years of mini-traumas having to do with vomit on carpet, lost school-outing permission slips, and teenaged temper tantrums have rubbed my nerves down to their last raw end.

Detective stories? Fifty pages into it, and I'm reading the last chapter because I can't stand the suspense. Who the heck did it? I can't STAND this!

Movies? No way. We watched Valkyrie with Tom Cruise on pay-per-view the other night (I know, don't ask, I didn't choose it) and in spite of Cruise's calm demeanor throughout, I was squirming in my seat after 20 minutes and had to eventually leave the room. Could have been Tom Cruise's wooden acting too, but mainly it was the soundtrack that got to me.

Every. Single. Second. Ominous music. More ominous-er now. Even more ominous. And damn, he's just raising one eyebrow in a meeting with Nazi officers. What will happen when he raises both eyebrows? God, I feel sick with anxiety! Time to leave the room and do some crack cocaine play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.

To prove what a wimp I am, I only need describe my behavior during Robert Downey Jr.'s The Ironman. I watched it with 23-year old Tarquin and his friend. Despite the deliciously calming effect of RDjr's chocolatey brown eyes, I was whimpering within 10 minutes. "Oh! No! Tarq! What's happening next? Are they going to be okay? Tarq!! TARQ!!! Ooooo, I can't stand it! Oh no! Don't go in there! No! No don't! Oh no, he went in! Oh, oooo! AAAAAH! Oh NO!!! What happened? Is he going to live? OMG!"

Tarquin was rolling his eyes, laughing. "This movie's PG-13, Ma! Calm down! Do you want me to tell you how it ends so you can relax?"

In case you're wondering, the movie is described as "Rated PG-13, for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content." Maybe I need more suggestive content and less action and violence. I think this pretty much puts everything except G-rated movies off the table. Next pay-per-view? Pixar's Ratatouille or Wall-E.

Although having just read the plot summary for Ratatouille, I'm already concerned:

"Remy is a rat, constantly risking his life in an expensive French restaurant because of his love of good food..."

This might still end up being too much suspense for me. I think I'd be better off knitting.



Elizabeth said...

LOL, I'm right there with you, girl! How about walking into your rental home at 9am the day after your daughter's wedding, knowing you have to pack up all your belongings, tidy up, and be out by 11am, because new renters arrive at 3pm, and find that someone has vomited all over the living room sofa and sisal rug??! Welcome to my world! (Thank heavens the rental home was owned by my sister's good friend and it had already been dubbed "Jill's Party House"!!!)

LadyFi said...

Had to laugh at this... I know what you mean in a way. Thankfully, we now have wooden flooring, makes it so easier to mop up the annual bouts of stomach flu!

I like a bit of suspense and surprise - but it has to be the right kind!

Geotacs said...

haha yes knitting can be calming...


Mr London Street said...

My friend Glenn is a bigger wimp even than you and with far less good reason. He was even scared by Practical Magic because, and I quote, "it's got witches in it".

Lovely post by the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Iota said...

Wall-Ee has got rather a lot of suspense in it too, I have to warn you. But is the best satirical social comment on modern Western society, so definitely you should watch it.

I watch movies with the sound on 'mute' when it gets scary or suspenseful, which I find helps a lot.

Anonymous said...

Very funny read. I downloaded Valkyrie and it's 900mb of my bandwidth I'm never getting back.

Island1 said...

Interesting. My Mum has the same reaction to situation comedies, she just can't stand scenes where there is obvious misunderstanding in social situations. I wonder if it's a related syndrome?

expateek said...

Elizabeth -- ooo, sisal! God that just makes me feel a little queasy right now. At least you know it probably wasn't the bride, right? :-) Yo, yer off the hook, mom!

LadyFi -- yup, hardwood beats everything, hands down. In fact for a couple of years, I was wondering whether dirt floors would have been more practical.

Geo -- knitting is calming unless you're doing it in the dark while watching Valkyrie and dropping stitches. Arg!! I'll blame Tom Cruise for all my knitting errors. Damn him!

MLS -- hmmm, you're right, Glenn does have problems. I draw the line there, because everyone knows that witches aren't real but of course Tom Cruise undeniably is. Of course, The Blair Witch Project I had to watch with the sound off, and I fast forwarded through all the scary parts, so the movie was only 8 minutes long. For me. And don't get me going on Pulp Fiction. I think I read the Blockbuster dvd case and started to freak out.

Iota -- so for Wall-Ee, you're saying I should hold the remote in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other? I'll take that under advisement. Good plan.

Matthew -- every time I read that about your missing bandwidth, I crack up all over again. Too funny.

Island -- well, your mom trained you well, as you are unfailingly polite in social situations. Ah, TGIF's in Warsaw.... the memories! Of course, she must have been cringing to see me ignoring all your comments and watching the drama unfold here. Like a situation comedy, but nearly a tragic ending.

Anonymous said...

Al those endomorphs and the andreneline rushing around your body must be doing wonders for your complexion. I read thrillers every once in a while to balance all the 'worthy' stuff and like you, race to the end with thumping heart. Maybe some daft chick lit. would be better.

Hannah Rose said...

I know I asked you to write about me (since it's all about me) but vomit was not exactly what I had in mind. Some may say I was asking for it, but they're just jealous.

I'll just keep this in my little journal of things to bring up with my therapist-of-the-future.

Suzy said...

I never ever thought about death. Now for some reason it keeps popping up in my brain and that is making me INSANE. I say things like, maybe God's trying to warn me or WTF is WRONG with me. Feel better?

Elizabeth said...

LOL--No way, the Bride was long gone to the Bridal Suite in Boston, anious to start the Honeymoon! Although I did initially suspect a former UK neighbor who happened to crash in the very same room as the sisal rug, I soon came to learn it was a member of my very own whose age is quite below the legal drinking age, but hey, with a hose & a lot of sunshine, all was good!

Christine said...

I would definitely stay away from Ratatouille, it does have that French connection and large hacking meat cleavers.

I stay away from G-rated movies. They scare me more than adult movies. It all goes back to Old Yeller and Bambi.