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Rory Book Discussions > HOI - Front Row Center (Chapter 4)

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message 1: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Meghan Seriously, another snoozer.

Does anyone else think that a lot of his fictionalized "stories" is really more about him going "look at me! I'm a hollywood insider!!!" (yes, exclamation points were deliberate. heh) Aren't I witty because I just satirized the hand that feeds me?

message 2: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I agree. And of course children's pageants aren't any kind of high theatre. The whole point is the kids are cute, and it's good for their self esteem, and the parents love it. And the kids learn a lot.

message 3: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Meghan I get that he's commenting on the fact that Christmas is suppose to be about Jesus or at least have some moral, uplifting moment. And, if you've ever had to endure some of these "children's Christmas plays" you wonder what people were thinking. They're long and tedious and no one is having fun. And why would you put your child through that? It does seem like they're missing the whole point.

But on the other hand, sometimes it's sweet. And sometimes you just want to see your child recite a line in a play even if they totally screw it up. Because that's a memory and when you look back on it, it makes you happy (and hopefully the child).

I just don't like that his points get lost because his writing is so terrible.

message 4: by Robbie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I think he's giving the perspective of somebody who's not all that into children, doesn't have any of his own and likely never will.

I've always been the sappy kind of person who loves seeing kids in this sort of thing--even more so when it's my children. I laugh along with everybody else when my kids mess up.

Most teenagers or other people "forced" to go to these shows are often bored or see it as absurd. I think it's this immature view that he's presenting.

message 5: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Yeah, I think you're right Robbie. I totally got that 14-year-old boy forced to watch his younger sister's Christmas pagent for the 5th year in a row vibe.

message 6: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
This one was a little bit funny in it's tongue in cheek reference. But really, I don't care. I've already begun to forget all but SantaLand because I'd rather fill that brain space with something GOOD. LOL

message 7: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments Funny thing is, I read this today and went to my son's daycare Christmas program tonight. Yeah, there were mess-ups and tears and technical difficulties, but it's so neat to get a bunch of people that probably wouldn't otherwise know each other together in a room to laugh and get to know each other and celebrate the season.

I'm all for sarcasm and blistering reviews sometimes, and I did enjoy the way he crafted some of his phrases, they were witty and wordy, which I tend to really like (which is why I'm a GG fan).
But his sentence "none of these productions came close to capturing the spirit of Christmas" really bothered me. What is the spirit of Christmas if it's not love? Seriously, that's what it's all about. (Is that a song? Oh wait, that's the Hokey-Pokey I'm thinking of!)
We sit through these awkward displays of questionable talent because we love the little tykes, no matter what the skill level is.
I agree with Robbie, he writes as if he's a disgruntled teenager just waiting to be set free.
Ok, I think I'm done now. Just needed to get that off my chest. Sorry! ;-)

message 8: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments Wow. I feel like I didn't even read the same story as everyone else. Again, my post is a little incendiary, as it really highlights some issues that I find personally valuable. Plus, I just find the story so, so hilarious.

I think he is commenting on the fact that parents (and extended family) glorify such Christmas productions to such a degree that perhaps one should review them and treat them seriously. Moreover, I am pretty sure that everyone's response to them, being primarily parents or extended family who might enjoy such events, proves his point. He is also just being silly and funny, as it is also completely ridiculous to think that one WOULD review such productions.

My partner and I read this story aloud last night and laughed non-stop. How completely ridiculous to write a column (which is how the story is set up) reviewing annual elementary school Christmas pagents and then treat the children in them as actual actors.

It is not only funny because it is ridiculous and silly, but also funny because, for one moment, it allows those of us who are not really on the mommy track or who do not really want to spend the entirety of their lives watching children do cute things to have a moment to relax and laugh and find some truth.

Consider this example:

You are a person who does not have children and does not want children or, if you do, it is a far off thought (May I point out as well that this does not make one immature or selfish). You have things you care about and are important and yet, are forced or cajoled, every single year, often multiple times a year, to attend events whose sole purpose is to point out a 6 year old's preciousness. On top of these events, many, if not all, discussions focus upon the preciousness of the children and their accomplishments (such as starring in the christmas pageant). And this is all very nice and cute and all, but then try to have some sort of reciprocity or interest in your life and seriously, forget about it. And be someone who is unmarried or in an alternative or same-sex relationship and then it gets even worse. Because people with babies (or close relatives of said babies) do not always realize that a world view wholly separate from these babies exists.

I do not mean to indict any of my fellow readers with this charge, but I know a whole lot of people who I could. I must admit, however, that I am sort of surprised by the group's reaction, as it seems there should be at least some outlet for people to escape the all encompassing world of babyhood. Moreover, as I am sure you would like the baby point of view to be taken seriously, you could understand why someone wholly unrelated to said point of view would like his or her point of view acknowledged. There is a fabulous Sex and the City episode, called "A Woman's Right to Shoes" that makes this same point. The title is somewhat of a battle cry around my house and with several of my friends -- friends who have to stay late and bill more while their parent counterparts leave early to go do kid stuff but when their particular interests and important dates come up, no one supports their need to be out of the office.

And I am not sure David Sedaris would ever be considered a "hollywood insider." Or a celebrity in any fashion. Except maybe by the gay mafia and a few of us who thank our stars everyday that someone can mock the rest of this crazy world that we cannot seem to escape.

message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Courtney, you might like the book "Baby Proof" by Emily Giffin. It's not about a same-sex couple but it is about a couple who doesn't want kids, and everyone around them does want kids, or has kids, and they're always feeling sort of left out of the conversations.

I don't know exactly where you are coming from, as I do hope there are children in my future, but for a while now my husband and I have been the only childless couple in our circle of friends. So I know how it goes when the whole conversation revolves around preschools and little league and such and we just sit silently by. Or when I talk about the last book I read, and people say snidely "You don't have kids, do you?" as if to imply that people with kids are much too busy and important to read a book. Or when I say that I'm so busy this season I can hardly stand it, and people condescendingly treat me like I can't possibly be busy because I have no kids.

message 10: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Courtney, I LOVED that episode of SATC! If only we could have registries at our favorite shoe store!

I'll give you the line, "A child is bored." That was pretty funny (just thinking back to all my elementary school pagent practices).

message 11: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Courtney, I really liked your insights. I did see and appreciate the ridiculousness of critiquing kids like they were real actors and all that. Maybe it's just the delivery that I didn't like... I don't know. Or reading it in the midst of all the other stories. However...

I do want to say that as a woman who has largely been single her entire life, I stand beside you in your plight to show another perspective beside the "perfect family" world view. Here's one that gets me... when someone has suffered a tragic death, the first question is "Did they have kids?" And if so, somehow their death is so much more tragic and if they don't then it's not as big of a deal. WHAT??? How about if they have kids then thinking that at least they had that or something. Geez. Why is my life worth so much less because I have no children and am alone? If you value family, should my death be so much more tragic for the lack?

Oh, how about my birthday last month: A friend had asked me to go hiking with her. I said sure, though nearly backed out in favor of just reading and relaxing or hiking on my own (not a close friend). But she made it sound like she wanted to do this for me, so I met her... it turned out it was also her husband and another couple. Complete torture. All they talked about were people I don't know or buying homes or other couple things. Even when I would interject something relevant in the conversation, I was brushed aside or completely ignored. I thought, "I have HOW many more miles of this??" (They had also decided on the one trail I've been on over 100 times in the last year for training. Really exciting.) So I kept edging farther and farther ahead until... oops! I'd lost them. Hey, it was my birthday. I didn't need that! What was so lame was my phone quit working (permanently) while on that hike, so while waiting at the car for them to show up I couldn't even hear any birthday messages from people that actually LIKE me. LOL.

Sorry, I know that story isn't about children, but it is in the same vein. Somehow even on my birthday, my ideas and thoughts were worth less because I am single and unattached.

Your point about time off at work was also well appreciated! Why is a parent's time more valuable than mine? I mean, in actual fact I could charge these people who condemn me in their own special ways for not having a family, etc., with being the cause. I have to work later while they leave, so I don't have the time to meet people that might in fact turn out to be my partner!

Thank you for your stance. Being single at 39 is not looked at as a positive thing in really any circles. But still, I am even now discovering all the joys of singlehood and that coupled with my desire to accomplish all my dreams (not compromise them in any way) makes it highly unlikely that I will find a life-partner. At least before I'm in my 70's. Why is that bad?

Hmm. I know, I really jumped ship in the topic, but I just felt like you brought up some REALLY great hot-button topics!

message 12: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Courtney:

First off, I want to apologize for using the word "immature" up there. Here I was, trying to make a point that Sedaris was presenting a different perspective of this situation, and I used an offensive word. I truly am embarrassed about that. I could try to make an explanation or excuse, but that wouldn't make that word choice any more acceptable. Sorry.

Even though I'm a sappy parent--and I totally admit that I am--I appreciate and understand the view he's presenting and have to admit I found it funny, too. I actually have a lot of friends, parents or not, who would have the same view as Sedaris, and I wouldn't dream of inviting them to this sort of thing. At least not without "If you're into this sort of thing..." with an eye-roll at the beginning. You never know who might be offended by not being asked.

I do often get annoyed at people who complain about being busy, but it has more to do with my job than having kids. Then again, I spend enough time on goodreads that I shouldn't complain.

Thanks for your post, Courtney!

message 13: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Oh, and Michele, I'm sorry to hear about your birthday. That does sound aweful! And I agree with you about the death thing.

message 14: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments Robbie, you DEFINITELY do not need to apologize! I certainly, after these excellent, excellent posts, feel the need to apologize a little for MY tone. I think your point about immaturity is really good. My partner and I were discussing this story again last night and she pointed out that part of what makes it so funny is that it is this ridiculous, picky, obnoxious review of something sacrosanct. Applying a NYT like standard and all. Which makes me think about so many of the NYT reviews, books, restaurants, etc. Makes me think about how immature and, well, obnoxious some food and book critics can be. Not of course my precious Ruth Reichl, but I have definitely read more than one review where I felt like NOTHING the author or the restaurant could have done would have made the reviewer happy. Which is definitely an immature view point.

Michelle, OH, I so understand! Both of my parents have passed away in the last three years (which definitely contributes to more than a little bitterness on my part) and my sister and I planned both of their funerals. On the day my Dad died, I took more than 10 calls from my uncle telling me when and how I needed to have the funeral so that his children could attend, because, unfortunately, having it the following week would conflict with their school schedules.

As for your birthday, what a mess! I literally would like to send out invitations, ala Carrie in SATC, inviting people to celebrate me marrying me. Perhaps that might end the nonstop wallpaper discussions that seem to permeate all conversations with the married types!

Sarah -- I was JUST wondering what to read next! Thank you! Now how to pretend I didn't just buy myself a new book right before xmas, lol! Hmmm . . .

message 15: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Okay, seriously, now I HAVE to watch Sex in the City.

Before all you girls go berserk on me, I was living in Europe when it got big. When I got back i was WAY out of the loop and didn't watch TV anyway. Then about the time I might have thought to sit down and watch an episode, it was ending. Who would watch the end of something when they'd never seen an episode. It'd be like reading the last page of a book you never started (ehem, Meghan)... totally confusing and meaningless.

But I have TOTALLY thought how much it sucks that I don't get the loot people get when they get married. What about me? I'll throw a party and everyone can come and bring me gifts I registered for. That'd be worth it. I mean, at some point I have to get a great kitchen together or want a nice set of bath towels or new bed linens. Can't a girl catch a break???

So let me get this straight... if I don't happen to meet that someone that "completes me" (totally goofing here) then I don't get the gifts? Lame. Should have taken my short, bordering on ugly, and excessively boring Italian friend up on his proposal of marriage so that he could get his green card. I could have gotten an EU passport and loads of loot out of it!

message 16: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Oh, and the end of the birthday story...

That night I went to dinner with my parents and some family friends (all my own friends were out of town or are living elsewhere). Except first my Sushi restaurant was inexplicably closed. Then at The Melting Pot, a very social type restaurant where it is incumbent to share, I find out that they have all been tailgating at a 49er game the whole of the day and I'm the only one eating. Not only that, but it was dead silent because they were all worn out from a full day. No seriously. Even the waiter pointed out it was like a library at our table... he'd never had such a quiet one EVER. Oh joy. What a LOVELY birthday.

The only bright spot was a friend from this club sent me a gift. Totally made my week!

message 17: by Beth (new)

Beth | 173 comments I agree with Courtney. I found this story hilarious, the idea of reviewing a children's Christmas pageant as if it were the highest level of professional theater. He struck just the right tone. I am one of those people who find these type of overly cute childhood experiences to be very annoying. I will state for the record that I do not have children, but I hope to have some one day, and that I have spent my professional life working with infants and children. Several of my close colleagues are confirmed bachelorettes with rich, full lives, and I am always amused by the conflict between them and those colleagues who are young mothers with small children. Especially at this time of year, when those with children always feel they deserve priority in having a more relaxed work schedule (in my experience, this has always been the case).

message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I don't think the "did he have kids" question after a death means that the life is more valuable than someone who doesn't have kids. I think it has to do with how tragic it is for a child to lose a parent, and how kids don't really understand death the way adults do. I have asked the "did they have kids" question and it's NEVER because I think the person is less valuable if they did not. It's just so sad for a little one to lose a mommy or daddy.

A much smaller example... last night my brother's dog died. And my frist question to my mom upon hearing this news was how are the kids doing. I just think death, as awful as it is for adults to deal with, is even harder for kids.

message 19: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Dec 15, 2007 08:43PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Shoot! This thread got serious! Haha. It's great. I agree with Courtney & Beth. I think when he was coming up with this idea, he was like, "You know what would be really funny? To review childrens' productions as if they were on the same caliber as professional productions." I don't think he thought too far beyond that. But, of course, everybody takes different things from reading and that's why we're all here.

Funny line: "Once again, the sadists at the Jane Snow-Hernandez Middle School have taken up their burning pokers in an atempt to prod A Christmas Carol into some form of submission." Haha. Sadists. If only he knew we were comparing him to Dickens!

I actually have three kids, and my house is a zoo. I don't usually bring them up on this site b/c this is one thing I do that doesn't involve my husband or my kids. It's mine! Stay away! (haha) I try not to talk about my husband too much, but he's such a big part of my experiences...TV/movies, whatever. But I think with kids/without, married/not married....we all have our own experiences that are important to us.

Michele, if I ever meet you in real life, I will throw you a housewarming party. I promise!

message 20: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Michele:

If you have that party with the gifts, remember you have to accept the hand-made ceramic thing from your wierd relatives that you're not sure what you're supposed to do with and have to write a thank you note that says, "Dear so-and-so, thank you so much for the interesting lamp!" ;) (My ex got custody of *that* thing!) Then you have to endure the Christmases and birthdays when your spouse gets some great personal stuff and you get festive kitchen towels. Well, I guess I did get festive kitchen towels when I was single, too. Shrug.

Seriously, I agree it isn't fair about the wedding thing.

Well, on your next birthday--a milestone birthday as some call it--throw a big bash and put "bring gifts please" on the invitations. Or you could be more subtle and include a card insert telling where you're registered. You'd probably get some good stuff. My husband, without my permission mind you, put "your presence is your presents" on the invitations for my party, and I still got a cool Elvis umbrella!

Stupid bath towels and sheets are expensive. I still have bath towels from my first marriage in 1987! The rest are beach towels that we put with the regular towels. People aren't as generous with the second marriage, BTW.

Next subject. Depending on the age of the child and their relationship to the pet, sometimes the pet loss is much harder on the adult. I've experienced the loss of two cats that I'd had for 15 years or so--through two or three of my different "lives." I was sobbing and my kids didn't bat an eye. A 5 year-old I knew once told me with great excitement in his eyes, "when our cat dies, we can get a kitten!!" Of course, when it's a pet they've known since puppy- or kitten-hood, or if it's a human they're close to, it can be quite confusing and no doubt has a great impact.

message 21: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) My nephews are 11 and 12. They're taking it pretty hard.

message 22: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I'm sorry to hear that, Sarah. I'm sure they loved their dog very much. At 11 and 12, they definitely know about the permanence of death, and that's such an emotional age in general. You're right to be very concerned about them.

message 23: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments Sarah, you know, up until a few years ago, I would have tended to agree with you, but now I am not so sure that a person's death is harder on kids. I am pretty sure my parents' death, both in their early 50s, wouldn't have been any harder at age 7 or 11. Maybe it might have presented great economic obstacles or produced an additional source of oddity or loss growing up, but death of one's most beloved doesn't get a second easier with age. It might be a more intense initial experience, because they do not understand, but they are also young, have so much time to work through things, and do not have more than a couple of years of memories to "get over." Moreover, people understand, accept and accommodate a child's grief, even months after, in a way that they do not with adults, even mere weeks later. With adults, there is a certain expectation that you will deal with it quickly or grieve sporadically and privately. Finally, kids may have the benefit of simple faith and simple explanations while many adults may have had serious lapses in faith or existential crisis merely as a result of their age. Honestly, I think adults tend to take death a lot harder than kids, perhaps they are just better at hiding it.

I am not sure if this is also true with pets, perhaps some have less of an obsessive love for their pets as adults than children. Having three precious cats who I adore completely, I am hoping not to find out for a very long time.

message 24: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Courtney, you make excellent points. I'm so very sorry for your loss, and I don't mean to discount the grief felt by adults in any way. The only point I wanted to make is that "did he have kids?" usually is a question to express concern for the grieving child (of any age) than to place any kind of importance on the life of a deceased parent as opposed to someone who did not have children.

And my brother's taking the loss of the dog pretty hard, too.

message 25: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments Sarah, thank you and I certainly did not mean to suggest that you were discounting my loss. In my response I meant to explain, although I do not think I did it very well, how my conception of grief has changed over time. I fully support ALL expressions of concern over grief. And I am so sorry for your brother's and nephews' loss. If anything happened to one of our kittens, well, I think my Partner and I would completely lose it.

message 26: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Courtney, I'm totally with you on the grief thing. As I age, I do find it is more and more difficult to deal with for all of the reasons you listed as well as that I find myself racing toward that inevitability. And I particularly agree that in general, children have a far more wide ranging and longer lasting support system for grieving. Adults are meant to move one whether they are ready or not because others become uncomfortable if they do not, among other reasons.

Sarah, I get your point totally, but honestly when the question is asked and the answer in "No, no children" there tends to be a "Thank God" in there and then they move on. If there is kids, then it's "oh that's terrible" along with whatever means of support. After so many times, it really does come across that in general single person's lives are less valued. It's not just this, though, but so many other ways as well.

Alison, I'll take it! Thanks! (That's so dang sweet!)

Robbie, you totally crack me up! But see, I get those gifts anyway, but if I got to register, I'd get at least a few things I actually want! LOL

message 27: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Okay, my aunt and uncle's dog Rusty was my favorite dog alive in all the world. He was second only to my childhood dog Sassy (short for Sarsaparilla) in being the bestest dog ever, ever, ever. I used to get flown down to Orange County just to dog-sit while they were on vacation because Rusty and I had a real bond! He was one of my best friends. I love that dog so much! They just had to finally put him down today. I'm just so incredibly sad. Christmas will be weird without him there.

message 28: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) My grandma just found out that her dog has lymphoma and only as a couple months to live. What is going on with dogs lately? I think I'm gonna give my pup some extra snuggles.

message 29: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Geez - rub it in!


message 30: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Oh, I didn't mean to. It's just everything that's going on with people's dogs, it makes me want to hug mine really tight.

I'm really sorry about Rusty, honey. :(

message 31: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments You poor thing! The loss of a beloved pet is SO difficult! =

message 32: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Sarah, I know you didn't mean to. I was just teasing.

Thank you Sarah & Courtney both for your kind words. I really am pretty sad, but I think once I get to the house on Christmas day I will really feel it.

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