Monday, April 30, 2012

The Day of Rest (In Peace)

Dear Sunday,

   We have had a difficult relationship for a long time now and I feel like I should write to you with the hope that, maybe, we can work it out. Yesterday you were beautiful,  I have to say that much, and unlike the other days of the week your name suggests bright possibilities (yeah, I just said that) but really you terrify me. You offer me everything and nothing at the same time, and I almost always leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused and well, depressed. I know it's not your fault but honestly this doesn't happen any other day of the week, so I think it's fair that you assume part of the responsibility. Even when I've had a great time, gone to the beach or to a barbecue, to a fair or shopping or a movie, took a hike with a friend, worked on a science report, finished an assignment, made a phone call, cleaned a closet, washed the dogs, took a bike ride, even when I did the things you always suggest: brunch or church, I always finish the day with gloom. Always. Maybe it's my pattern, maybe it's the end of something and that's what I feel sad about, like, if only I had done things differently it wouldn't be over pleasedon'tleaveSunday whatamIsupposedtodonow? That sort of thing. Maybe that's what it is. You make me tired. You remind me of everything I don't have and all that I have to do to get it.
Do you think we can ever work this out? Or should I just accept it and move on. Let's talk about this again next week,

Sunday, April 29, 2012

8 Ways a 13 Year Old Who is Not Allowed Out is Like a Recovering Alcoholic

Reasoning: Really, it’s ok, I’m allowed to do something wrong and not have consequences. Pshhheesh, it’s fine. There’s no problem.

 Disbelief/Denial: Wait, what?

 Crying: Why? Why? Why? This is so unfair.

 Hating You/Blaming: YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE. How does it feel being so mean and horrible, you fat ugly IDIOT? (door-slam)

  Hating Self : Oh my god, I’m so stupid. What was I thinking? I shouldn’t be allowed to live. I hate myself.

Negotiating: Do you need me to walk the dogs? Do The Dishes? I love you.

Begging: Please. Please. Pleeeeeeease. I will never ask you again. I will stay in for the rest of my life. I’m the only person who isn’t going, I need to go.

 Crying Self to sleep: I HATE MY LIFE WAAAAAAAAAA zzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Levon, The Band, Me and My Dad

The summer The Last Waltz came out, my Dad took me to see it at least three times. This was before the days of video and long before you-tube, so if you saw something you liked and wanted to see it again, you had to go to the movie theater. It wasn’t my choice exactly but I remember loving it, partly because it was the first documentary I'd ever seen (a movie with real people! who talked to the camera!), partly because I knew and liked some of the music, but mostly because my Dad loved it so much. We sat together in the movie theater while my brother and sisters (who really were too young to enjoy it, but it was summer and they didn’t have a babysitter) ran around in the aisles. “Whose kids are those?” my Dad would say, loudly and indignantly, before settling into his seat.

My Dad liked Robbie Robertson because he was the creator and he admired his elegance and poise, but I think he identified with Levon Helm, who, like him, was a drummer and singer, and had a voice (speaking as well as singing) that could be high-pitched, gravelly and Civil War mountain-man-ish all at once. They were both funny, cool, hard workers, and (at least in my eyes) the one you’d watch on stage. My Dad was a working actor at that time, but he loved music and dancing, and I think, would have loved to be part of a band like that one. Which is why he kept going back to see it again and again. I felt honored (or whatever the comparable word a young teen would use) to be included, like he was sharing something secret about himself specifically with me.

I first heard that Levon was dying, from an announcement on Twitter that said, “Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send prayers and love” and even though I hadn’t thought much about him for years I was saddened by the thought that he was about to go. He died two days after that. I remember thinking what a great and full life he had, and how he was so good at telling a story through the way that he sang. I remembered too, how I felt watching him in the air-conditioned movie theater in the Valley: mature, sophisticated, and honored to be included.

This was my favorite song.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How I work

I can't work if there is any noise or distraction. I know there are people who listen to music while they work, or they sit at Starbucks or on a subway train and type away and (at least partially) un-self-consciously write 5-10 pages, no prob. That's not me. Me, I'm a monkey under those conditions. It's too much; I get frightened and nervous and distracted, turning my head this way and that with my hands up protectively in front of my chest. Who---What---Look at---Oh---. I can plop out a sentence hear or there, get an idea for an idea but I can't, you know, actually accomplish anything. That's why I wake up at 3:30-4. It's pitch black heavy silence. All I have to do is listen to whatever it is that's in my head. Around 4:45, the birds start getting their groove on, but them I can deal with.

Still. Sometimes I can listen to a song and an entire story writes itself in my head. I remember the time of day, the smells, what I wore, the helicopter, the payphone, the shoes on the stairway, the dog's tail, the sounds through the wall and then somehow it all steers back, it always does, to the guy I lived with a long time ago.

Like this one.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Skipping School

Reasons I've Kept My Kids home From School
Legitimate Illness
Wanted to teach them about hookey
Bad Haircut/Highlight Job
Unfinished Homework/Project
Couldn't get a ride home
Big Pimple

Things I Did to Make the Time in Class Go Faster (5th grade)
Sharpen my pencil
Raise my hand and, when called upon, forget what I was going to say
Go to the bathroom (on the walk down the hall, place one foot directly in front of the other as though measuring the exact distance)
Watch the second hand of the clock
Crack my knuckles (or try to; I never figured it out)
Stare out the window and count the leaves on the maple tree
Pay attention

When I Realized That You Could Learn Things Outside of the Classroom On Your Own Time
3rd Year of College

Favorite Teachers
Mr. McGrath (8th grade english teacher made us memorize Chaucer)
Mrs Cammen (3rd grade teacher made us write a composition every day)
Mme. Pew (9th grade French teacher, pretty and nice, only spoke french)
Mrs. Lipinski (4th grade science teacher; taught us how to use a microscope)

Name of 11th grade History Teacher who read out loud to the class my exam essay as an example of the most horrible essay he'd ever read
Mr. Wrangham

Friday, April 20, 2012


When I was in school we used to have to memorize poems. I'm not going to deny it was a chore but even now, years later, I still remember a few of them. I'd always look for ones by this guy because they were the simplest, written in a language I understood. Here's a good one to memorize. Go on! Then next time your child has a slumber party, or you're chatting in line with a stranger, you can bust it out. It'll be a hit I swear. (ok, I just laughed out loud; recite it to yourself then).

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

-Walt Whitman

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Indian Hoooey

I was halfway through my third conversation with an Indian guy named Kevin when I started to shut down. He was trying to help me install a program on my computer so that he could see what I was looking at. I don’t know if it’s because sometimes things take time to load up on computers or if Kevin was trained to deal with people who have no computer skills whatsoever, but he was politely silent while he waited for me to speak. It’s like we were playing chess.
I can’t do this.
It just takes time.
Nothing’s happening.
Did you put in your password?
(I let out a huge sigh that said, You have just pushed me one step closer to picking up a rope/gun/bottle of pills/gas oven/razor blade.
Yes Ma’am?
(I had to pause to gather my wits)
I know that what I am about to say will be incomprehensible to you. I know this because I have in fact already said this twice and you’re not taking it in.  You’re not grasping it. I realize it makes no sense to a person who works on computers, to someone who has an organized, technical, intelligent grasp of the world, but Kevin, I’m going to say this slowly, not to be a condescending American ass-turd (although because I am American I can’t help talking this way) but because I need you to understand what you are dealing with right now; I need you to understand this even though I am ashamed and completely broken and it pains me to tell you: I do not know the PASSWORDKEVIN. I HAVE ENTERED THE THREE THAT I ALWAYS USE, EACH TIME IN VARYING COMBINATIONS OF UPPER AND LOWER CASE LETTERS AND IT’S NOT WORKING, IT DOESN’T WORK, IN FACT IT TELLS ME THAT I HAVE JUST ENTERED THE WRONG PASSWORD, THAT’S HOW MUCH IT DOESN’T WORK, AND NOW I’M YELLING AT A PERSON ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD WHO DOESN’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO GET UPSET OVER TRIVIAL UNIMPORTANT UNWORLDLY PROBLEMSKEVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I understand Ma’am.
(I thought he might explain things to me, I thought he might even have something to say, some sort of judgment on the way I was conducting myself, something like Jesus Christ woman pull yourself together, except a Hindi version, but he didn’t, he was just waiting. We both sat there on the phone. I could hear the 8000 miles between us. I imagined the streets outside his office. I imagined them filled, filled, filled with hundreds of people, many of them beggars, lots of them missing limbs, none who could give two shits and a rat’s ass about some moron in America who can’t receive email on her i-cloud. Kevin cleared his throat quietly. I did the same.)
Ok. Ma’am?
Do you see the box that says Username?
Yes I do.
Beneath that there is a box that says password.
The blue box?
Yes, I see it.
Put your password in there.
Ok now you’re fucking with me Kevin.
(Now this time I sat quietly for a long pause. I listened to my breathing and pretended to meditate until I calmed down)
Are you near a window Kevin?
Can you see out of it from where you are sitting?
Yes, ma’am.
Do you see far, far, far in the distance that tiny mushroom shaped cloud?
Yes, I see it.
That’s my head exploding. That’s my head. That just happened.
What?....Oh…Oh ma’am. You’re kidding.
Yes. Sadly, I am.
You’re funny. (He was really laughing)
No really. (His laugh was high pitched. It burst out like high-pitched Indian hoots)
Thanks Kev.
Hoo that was funny. (He kept laughing.  It went Hoooooo, then Heeeeee, then Hiiiiiiiyiiihiiiii. I could hear him slapping his leg)
Jesus, calm down Kevin.
Oh that was a good one. Okay Okay. (he sniffed and coughed) Ok Ma’am?
Just click on the blue box. The one that says password? And then in the box, you will enter your password. (He started giggling at first, just a little, then a little more and then in seconds he was back to the Indian hoots. Hooooooooo, Heeeeeeeeeeeeee, hihi hihi ohhhhhhhh….He wouldn’t stop. He was having a good time. I didn’t want to interfere with that. I put the phone down but didn’t hang up. I shut down my computer. He was still hooo-ing away. I put my sweater on, slid my feet into my shoes, stood up, pushed the chair in, grabbed my keys off the hook and walked out the front door into the warm beautiful sun-shiney day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mean Teacher

                This is an old post from the time Dar and Harry were still going to the same school.

Darla and Harry have a teacher at their school who works in every classroom (K-6) with kids who have reading problems, but his main function, as I understand it, is to terrorize children who are being disruptive in the hallways. I get daily reports about how mean Mr. Mark is. How with a completely frightening expression he does the “I am watching you” gesture that DeNiro made famous, and without any humor at all refers to girls as “gentlemen” and says things like Come here Sirs while pointing and doing the “Come here” signal with the two first fingers of each hand.
You don't think he's trying to be funny? I ask.
Nooooooo, they scream/sing in unison.
Last night at dinner I overheard the following conversation:
Mr. Mark went to Lilah’s music show with his boyfriend.
What? I didn’t know Mr. Mark was gay.
Well he is. They were holding hands.
(both silently chewing and eating)
I thought gay people were supposed to be nice and happy and fun.
Maybe he’s only half gay.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Inherited Scents

I was reading an article about the smelliest street in New York (and possibly the entire universe) (On Broome, between Allen and Eldridge) and it said that when you walk past it you can’t help thinking of dying and rotting. I think it’s true that suddenly being hit with a smell can force a particular thought /memory into your head, and while most of the smells are recognizable, say, your grandmother’s perfume, or the bleachy laundry smell of a gym locker-room, occasionally these smells are not pinpoint-able at all; there are a few places in New York, and one or two here in California as well, where I recognize a smell so strongly but don’t know why or what it’s connected to. It’s like when you are trying to remember a word and you know that it is right on the tip of your tongue. I always wonder if these smells are from a past life or from the life of an ancestor that I’ve somehow inherited without my knowledge.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sketch: PBJ in NOLA Hotel

A friend of mine is staying at a hotel in New Orleans that leaves out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pitchers of milk in the lobby after 11 pm. It made me think of the following.

INT. Hotel lobby.  11:20 Beautiful, polished marble floors. Dark wood walls. Glittery chandelier. A young busboy with a meticulous haircut and a clean white jacket carries in a silver tray of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and sets it on the front desk. He walks away.
Close up of  PBand J: the supermodel of all sandwiches.
Busboy walks back in with a pitcher of ice-cold milk and sets it on top of a circular cork placemat. He fusses to make the presentation neat. Exits.
Wide shot of lobby: floor, wood, chandelier, PB and J station. We hear the sound of husky, drunken frat boys, yelling/laughing OS. One guy comes half tumbling through the door, his overcoat fallen off to one side. The other two run in after him.
Told you Sam.
Shut the hell up Ranson.
Who the fuck are you? My Grandmother?
The hell is that?
Probably someone’s room service.
Take one.
Ranson picks up a triangle and stuffs the entire thing into his mouth.
Fuckin slob.
Sam takes one and stuffs it in his mouth. The two of them stand there, mouths completely full, staring at each other and chewing like apes. Robert, who has been hanging back, walks up to the tray and carefully selects one triangle. He wraps it in a paper napkin. He picks up a glass and sets it upright on the desk and pours himself a glass of milk, and then steps past his friends and heads toward the elevator.
Sam and Ranson eye the whole thing and then each other, still chewing. Sam turns to follow and gives Robert a shove. A splat of milk slaps onto the floor.
Fuck. What.
Where are you going douche?
Robert stares at him and waits for the elevator.
You’re a fucking child.
You’re a fucking child (mouth still completely full).
Still over at the desk, Ranson turns and walks towards his friends. He trips and falls on his face. The elevator arrives and the two others step in. We see a hand holding it open as they wait for Ranson to pick himself up and walk over. Door closes. Ding.
INT. Hotel Lobby. 12:07 am. Close up on splat of milk on clean marble floor. We hear footsteps. Move up to entrance of well-dressed couple, 40s. The woman walks ahead with the deliberate intention of an extremely drunk person. The man behind her staggers in 20 paces behind. He stops in front of the mirror at the entrance and stares at himself, swaying. The woman walks up to the desk.
Every time she says the word babe, she waits patiently for a response, though she appears to be hypnotized by the sandwiches.
Babe, you want one?...babe…Mmhavinglooksgood.
The man stares at his face in the mirror, his head lolling.
The woman chews the sandwich. Again, slowly and deliberately. She leans forward on the desk, her back to the man.
The man looks at his chin in the mirror with utter despair. He closes his eyes and lets out a sigh, the deepest longest sigh in the history of all time.
The woman sets her sandwich down on the desk and pours herself a glass of milk, half of it missing the mark. She takes a sip, sets it down next to the sandwich and walks towards the elevator. The man’s shoulders drop, he hangs his head and begins to weep.
The woman holds the elevator door.
Babe… Frank….Come on… Don’t be a jackass.
Frank turns and walks over to the elevator. The longest, slowest, saddest walk in the history of all time. He gets in. The door closes. Ding.
INT. Hotel lobby. 12:30. Woman walks in with a baby over her shoulder. She is pulling a suitcase and holding the hand of a 4-year-old sleepwalking boy. She walks over to the armchair next to the desk and sets the baby down, parks the suitcase next to the chair and picks up the boy.
Where’s Daddy?
He’s not coming.
Is he mad at me?
No my sweetie.
He lays his head on her shoulder and she walks to the desk.
Look at this….look what someone left for you.
A little sandwich. Look, you want one?
How did they know to make your favorite?
The boy eats his sandwich and the mother walks back to the chair opposite the first one and sets him down. She walks back to the desk and takes one. Then she picks up some napkins and wipes the spill on the desk and throws them out. Still eating the triangle, she grabs another pile and walks to the splat in the middle of the floor. She wipes it absently, throws the napkins in the can and goes to sit with her son on the chair. From OS we can hear the elevator doors open. Ding.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What. Is. Happening.

A long time ago, there was a special channel to watch music videos. You remembered/starting liking songs because of the video. Now you have to search around on the internet. People!! Did you know what has been going on? I found just these three in random ways and they are odd, freaky and one even made me sick. I can't stop thinking about them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Caine's Arcade

Mo sent me this video last night. I was going to write something about it but I think you should just watch. This kid is a magical genius.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Gasp The Laugh The Sneeze

My mom is a creature of habit. If I had to, I could sit down right now and write a list of all the things she will do today, in a very specific order, including specific details like the way she blows her nose, talks to the dog and scratches her lower back while she walks into the bathroom after she first wakes up. I could tell you that she will make coffee, walk into the living room, click a light on, light a candle, pick up a book and a notebook and sit down on the couch. I could tell you what she eats for breakfast: cereal, and how she makes it: overloading the bowl to the point of spilling. I could tell you that when I was growing up, Monday was sheet changing/house cleaning day, and Friday was getting hair done at the beauty parlor day. I could tell you that she likes to say that she is a creature of habit, a creature of habby, a creature of habby-habs. 
I don't ever say habby habs.
Mom, yes you do.
No I really don't.
Mom, trust me.
Well... I don't remember.

She does the same thing every day. That's all I'm saying. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, I am not a creature of habby habs. I don't even like to sleep on the same side of the bed two nights in a row. Or I mean I never did. But now, I'm beginning to-- well, that's not what I'm writing about right now. What I'm trying to say is that the weird thing about all this is that the main images I have of my mom, those frozen pictures in my head that pop up when I think of her, the sounds that loop over and over and over, are all based on an element of surprise: a gasp, a laugh and a sneeze, and have nothing to do with being predictable at all.

My Mom's birthday was yesterday. Say Happy Birthday, everyone!
Happy Birthday Everyone!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly at the Calabasas Strip

We are sitting at an outdoor promenade/fancy suburban mall in Calabasas. It is the kind of place you can order a life size family portrait, get a prescription filled, and buy an evening gown, all in one stop. We are eating food at a chain restaurant at the far end of the strip, near a stream/man-made watering hole filled with 800 turtles. The parking lot is jammed with recently waxed Lexus' and Range Rovers that still smell new. I can see mountains in the background and I wonder about this old town. Down the road there is an old replica/ restored main street that makes me imagine what this place was like back in the 1800s. Was it a fancy place where rich cattle ranchers came to get a drink at the saloon, have a proper shave, and buy silk stockings for their wives? As I'm wondering this, a lady walks by wearing a cape and pushing a stroller with a little dog in it. She has wild wavy hair and is wearing sunglasses and a cowboy hat. The dog has wild wavy hair and is wearing sunglasses and a cowboy hat. They walk slowly through the strip/town, making defiant eye-contact with everyone they pass.
A stranger is a stranger no matter what period you are from.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Downhill Train Ride into a Hellhole of Sadness

(Here's an old one from the files)

I just read an article by a blogger about lining drawers with fabric instead of contact paper. Then I went on to read the comments, which included things like OMG, I never thought of this! and Great idea, thanks!!!
I am not the sort of person who lines her drawers with fabric. Or feels comfortable using exclamation points.
However I am definitely the sort of person who spends 15 minutes reading this (when I should be working or accomplishing my goals), and then imagining the whole process: thinking of a good color fabric for the bathroom, driving to the store, finding a bargain, coming home, lining and organizing my drawers, feeling content that I’ve made an effort to have everything in order and subsequently feeling like I have control over my life, and am successful and fulfilled.
I imagine all these things and wonder A. if it would ever be possible for me to be the person who lines her drawers with fabric and B. if that would really be enough to point me in the direction of feeling in control of my life and C. if maybe I’m too uptight and judgmental to enjoy something like this and D. to wishing I could afford to hire someone to line my drawers with fabric and E. to thinking it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard of.
And then my day is done and I have to go make dinner.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Repertoire of Funny: Part 2

Nothing good happens in a strip mall in Tarzana. This is what I am thinking as I drop my Dad and brother in front of the restaurant. I park in front of a mini mart and watch some guy in a white van open his door into the Geo next to it: gonk. It leaves a good sized dent. This is exactly where things like that happen all day long. I grab my purse and take a deep breath. I'm goin in.
Inside, Miles and my Dad are speaking to the friendly, smiling owner/couple behind the front counter (this looks good!), further in, there are two card tables covered in plastic, a couple of folding chairs, and no other customers (this does not). Miles hands me a paper plate and says, "There's no menu, just the steam table". My Dad shuffles over to sit down; he has given up entirely.
I'll make you a plate, Dad, what do you want?
I don't know, you choose. He doesn't turn around.
I look at the steam table: brown, dark brown, orangish and green. In one section, hard boiled eggs float like Gator eyes in a swamp. Miles is asking the woman behind the table what each thing is, and as I watch her explain it so sweetly and Miles consider each thing so, well, considerately, I suddenly, instead of thinking "what difference does it make?", think this is fine. This is great. Bless this sweet couple for trying to have a business. Bless Miles for bringing us somewhere different. Who cares if it looks like this, it's not so bad, what's the worst that could happen? Food poisoning? Who cares if it does. I pile a scoop of each color onto 2 plates and sit down next to Pops.
We both look at the plate, then each other. He slowly pushes the plate away with one finger. I slowly push it back. He pushes it away. I push it back. This all happens in silence, looking away from each other, until it gets tiresome and then we laugh. Last year at this time, my Dad was in a hospital bed recovering from open heart surgery because of a heart attack that, the doctor said, probably should have killed him. What's a little diarrhea and vomiting when you've had your chest sliced open with a table saw. As it turns out, the food is so intensely spicy that after the first couple of bites it doesn't really matter what it tastes like. We are all choking and holding our throats.
"How is everything?" the owner calls out.
"Delicious", I cough, "Can we have some more water when you get a chance?"
We drain the glasses after she pours.
Both Miles and my Dad get the hiccups, and not the cute little bubbly kind of a teething infant but rather the aggressive croaks that a person makes before they're about to...I'm not going to say it. Every time one of them hiccups,we laugh, until pretty soon that's all we are doing. Hiccup. Laugh. Hiccup. Laugh.
I can't eat anymore, I say.
Save it for Duncan, Miles says.
In my head I say, why would you want to give this to your boyfriend--
He eats anything, Miles says, reading my mind. We all laugh.
I'm done too, my Dad says.
This wasn't very good, Miles says, smiling.
"It really wasn't," I'm smiling too.
"It may have been the worst food I ever had in my life". This, from my Dad who, like Duncan, eats anything. We all look at each other, smiling.
This was fun, my Dad says. 
He's right. Who cares about the food, really. It's just nice to be together, even in Tarzana, even in a strip mall. "Well," Miles says, "Let's see how we're doing in a couple hours".

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Repertoire of Funny

I called my Dad from the car to tell him to put down what he was doing, that I was 5 minutes away and we were going out for lunch.
Ho-kayyyy, he says.
I don't know if I can adequately describe to you the way my Dad says this word without you hearing it, but it is one of those things, like pretending to walk into a door, or nodding off while listening to you speak, that he does to make you laugh. He says it with the false cheeriness of a nurse in a mental ward, of someone who is both utterly distressed and still trying to maintain a positive outlook on life. 
Get ready, I say.
Yiiiiiiiiii!!!, he says, like an excited schoolgirl. Another classic in his repertoire.
No one in my family laughs at any of these things, at least not on a regular basis (sometimes the context is just too ridiculous not to laugh) but it's like we've all made a sort of unspoken agreement that's it's actually funnier if we keep a straight face. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not; but most of the time everyone appreciates the effort.
When I get there, my Dad is standing in the driveway with my brother Miles. If my Dad is at the funny guy/physical comedy end of the spectrum, Miles is at the straight-man/upright and formal other end. This is not to say that he does not appreciate funny, or laugh easily or, on occasion, say something hysterical under his breath, but mostly he is dignified and serious. He looks at me and, in his quiet baritone voice, says, Would you like go to the new Sri-Lankan restaurant. It just opened down the street.
My Dad and I glanced at each other for a half-second. I'm not going to say I'm against Sri-Lankan food, I'm not even sure I've ever had it, but at 12 o'clock on a Friday afternoon, I'm thinking more along the lines of sandwich, salad, maybe soup. I let the words Sri-Lankan slowly sink in while every fiber of my interior being is screaming NO, DON'T GO, SRI-LANKAN FOOD IS FOR DINNER OR AT LEAST AFTER 4. DON'T DO IT YOU'LL REGRET IT IT'S WRONG DON'T GO, then I shrug and say Sure, let's go. (Part Two tomorrow....)

(MIA is from Sri Lanka and so is my friend Oshadi)