Listen Here, Internet Girl

Month: April, 2012

In which they have something in common

[Season 5, Episode 22 “The Godfather: Part 3”]

In this episode a beautiful young woman walks into Cheers, sees Sam and proclaims “Hey barkeep, I hear you pour a mean root beer in this saloon!” At first the audience thinks this is just another one the women from Sam’s rolodex. Luckily we are spared that tiresome plot when we find out the woman is Joyce Pantusso, the late Coach’s niece who has just moved to Boston for college.

Sam and Joyce exchange a bit of banter before Joyce hands Sam a letter from her father. In it, Joyce’s dad has asked Sam to keep an eye out for his little girl, saying “If anything happens to her, I’ll go out in the shed and blow my brains out.” Feeling the obvious pressure, Sam and by default Diane, enlist the help of the most innocent person they know to show Joyce around town: Woody. Little do they know Joyce and Woody have fallen in love and decided to get married. After a few days. When Sam confronts the new couple, Woody states in true Woody fashion: “I know it’s crazy. We’ve only known each other a few days, but it feels like…several.”

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Together, but on separate occasions, Sam and Diane try to convince Joyce and Woody to reconsider. First up is Sam who gets on his hands and knees and begs them to call off the engagement.

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They comply after seeing Sam in distress, but the following day they arrive back at Cheers with another announcement: they’ve called off the engagement, and are instead moving in with each other. Sam, realizing that his previous tactic was faulty and feeling stressed about Joyce’s father’s letter, asks Diane to talk some sense into the kids.

“Stand aside, Sam, you’re about to see 26 units of psychology fly into action,” Diane says. In Sam’s office Joyce confesses that college was her mother’s idea and that she’s decided to not attend school after all. This obviously upsets Diane whose religion seems to be education, and just like her fiance she gets down on her hands and knees and begs Joyce and Woody to reconsider.

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Again, the kids agree to take their relationship slower and things are back to normal again.

The last scene of the episode shows Sam and Diane sitting on Sam’s couch pondering what kind of parents they are going to be and how they are going to avoid begging like a “dog begs for a bone” with their own children. Sam comes up with the brilliant (not) idea to simply stop having sex. They sit with that idea for a moment before Sam says “Well, maybe…” and the episode ends with them making out on the couch, obviously happy to forget about that terrible idea.

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This episode is great because we get to see Sam care about a woman he isn’t trying to sleep with. Although we have seen this briefly in previous episodes with Carla, something about Sam being so protective over this fresh-faced 18 year old girl was entirely refreshing. The audience does feel at times that maybe Sam only cares so much about keeping Joyce safe because he is trying to avoid the guilt of a possible suicide by Joyce’s father, but nonetheless Sam’s concern for Joyce felt believable and endearing to me. It was also just great to see Diane in a big sister role.

It’s rare to see Sam and Diane adopt the same exact method of anything let alone something as poignant as trying to stop a young couple from making a mistake. In the end, they both resorted to begging. I was left with the feeling that even though Sam and Diane have very little (if next to nothing) in common with one another, this simple (albeit desperate) approach they took with Joyce and Woody proved that they really could work as a team.

If only Coach were around to see that.

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In which they just kept going

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My Grandma texted me this morning to say that she misses me and that she wishes I could be there for her and my Grandfather’s 50th wedding anniversary. Which is on May 12th.

I called her today to get the scoop. 50 years? What the fuck? That is such a long time to dedicate yourself to one person. I wanted the secrets, if any.

“Grandma, hey. I’m calling you from this Dunkin Donuts,” I said.

She laughs at me. “Your Mother said you liked that place.”

“So, 50 years. Holy shit. I can’t imagine that. I’m trying and I can’t.”

She laughs again and says something about people nowadays giving up too easily.

I ask about the night she met my Grandfather.

“I went out dancing with friends at this place called the Rainbow. I saw your Grandpa and oh my god, I thought he we so handsome. He asked me to dance and we danced all night. I thought we were going to burn a hole in that dance floor. That was a good night.”

Women who were single in the 60s did not give out their phone number to prospective dates, she told me. “We were not allowed to. If my Grandpa found out I gave my number to a man, he would have slapped me.” I don’t have to assume she means this literally. She means this literally.

It wasn’t until the following week when, as fate would have it, my Grandparents ran into each other again at The Rainbow.

I asked how long they dated before they got engaged.

“Nine months,” she deadpans.

I knew this already. This was a secret they tried desperately to hide from the family for many years but we can all do math. I acted surprised.

“So…it was a shotgun wedding?” I asked trying to stifle my laugher.

“Yep.”

“If you hadn’t gotten pregnant do you think you would have married him?”

“No, I don’t think so,” She didn’t hesitate. I paused momentarily to weigh the gravity of that. How one thing – in this case, getting pregnant – can set off a chain reaction and literally create lives and entire existences.

“I did love him but I also thought he was just so-so,” she explained. I understood the sentiment completely.

As far as the proposal itself, it was devoid of any romance, Grandma says.

“One day he just said ‘We’re gonna get married’ and the next thing I know we are shopping for wedding rings and a dress. It all happened fast.”

I wanted to know how they stayed committed to one another for so long. I know the real secrets of their marriage that have nothing to do with sex before their marriage. I know that he hit her. A lot. I know that he was not a nice man, and I knew that the thought of leaving him has crossed her mind just as often.

“The vows mean everything, Teresa. I said in front of God that I would stay with your Grandfather for better or for worse, so I did.”

She said it matter of factly as if I was supposed to relate. I couldn’t relate; I can’t relate. She was talking to a woman (me) who received a ring from a man she was dating for much longer than nine months, and ran away to Los Angeles because committing to someone at 21 was too scary. Commitment and I aren’t big fans of each other.

I don’t relate to my Grandparent’s love story but that doesn’t mean I can’t respect it. “The vows mean everything, Teresa.” I keep hearing her say that in my head. As a writer I understand the importance of words. I can respect the words.

And it’s nothing new. Anyone who has been married for a long period of time will tell you the same sort of story. They never quit. They kept going, even when things were terrible, they kept going. But was the decision to stay together for so long based on love, or merely the vows? I can’t ponder it for too long.

“You know, if you talked to your Grandfather about this he would probably cry. He’s always been so emotional. More emotional than me. I’m just not like that,” she says. “He calls me a bitch,” she laughs, “And I call him a crybaby.”

About an hour after our chat, I’ll text my Grandma and ask her if she thinks I’ll ever get married.

“Yes, and you will have kids. Believe me,” she writes.

“If you say so,” I reply.

“You’ll see.”

How to live in New York for one year

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Move to New York City. Make sure it’s in April so that you arrive at the same time as spring. Get a window seat on the plane and take pictures of the Midwest sky with the camera on your phone. Land safely. Get your bags and stand in line for a taxi. Tell the cab driver your new, temporary address and go, speed off into the newness that lies ahead.

Try to start a conversation with the cabbie because you are anxious and excited and want to talk to someone. Don’t take it personally when he does not seem at all interested in talking to you. Text an east coast friend: “I just scream California, don’t I?” Laugh when she replies immediately with “Yep.”

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge and see New York for the first time. You have to be sure to not have ever visited the east coast before so that when you land, you feel as though you have just arrived in a foreign country.

Feel scared. Feel big and tiny at the same time. Ignore those feelings for now.

Meet up with a friend. Sit on your new queen sized bed with your first New York friend and drink the remainder of your mini bottles of alcohol. Also drink wine. Feel totally fine about being really drunk within two hours of getting off the plane.

Leave your apartment with your friend and walk the city streets for the first time. Feel so alive, please remember to feel alive! GET ON THE SUBWAY FOR THE FIRST TIME. Thank god you are not alone, oh shit this is so goddamn confusing. We are transferring trains now? What. Be confused. Feel okay though.

Meet your friend’s boyfriend and watch them sing karaoke. Don’t sing any songs yourself. You aren’t that drunk.

Start to feel woozy. Wait, you are that drunk. You got so drunk, you dummy! Go to the bathroom. Puke in the sink next to a girl snorting cocaine.

Leave the bar. Let your friend put you in a cab because you cannot be trusted on the subway by yourself yet.

Get home to your new, temporary bed. Fall asleep for twelve hours. Wake up the next morning. Walk five blocks to Trader Joe’s to get groceries. Make sure “This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads comes on your iTunes as you’re walking back, grocery bags cutting into your hands. Sing along to the song “Home is where I want to be/but I guess I’m already there/If someone asks/This is where I’ll be…”

Feel a lot of feelings. Miss your family. Sob so hard because you miss your family so much. Miss your friends. Remember all your friends back home who would, if you called and asked, drop everything to come and be with you if you felt sad. Learn the difference between people you know and people who are your friends. Feel sad, but thankful about that lesson.

Go to see improv. Stand two feet away from Amy Poehler. Laugh so hard. Love that this is your life now.

Start school. Do well immediately. Make your advisor proud. Make your Mom proud. Study a lot. You go to NYU. Feel both embarrassed and pleased that your first professor has given you the nickname “Lion.” Let her call you this in front of the other students frequently.

Cry everywhere. Oh my god, cry fucking EVERYWHERE. On the subway. At the library. In class. At Washington Square Park. At Madison Square Park. At Dunkin Donuts. Cry in front of strangers in public who give you privacy and never ask if you’re okay. Thank them, silently.

Fall in love with a man from Peru. Let him sleep over one night. Cook him dinner. When you wake up the next morning, you see he’s already left. Date him throughout summer and then let him break your heart. See it coming but also don’t stop it. Know it’s a train wreck and fall in love anyway. September will come and you will be alone again. Deal with it. Get over it. Move on.

Move to Harlem. Feel a real sense of community. Do not feel afraid walking in your neighborhood late at night, but also be smart about it. Make friends with the guys who work at the bodega you live above. Let them give you free empanadas from time to time just for laughing at their jokes you don’t understand.

Take the subway every day. By now you have mastered it. Feel a lot of things and also feel numb at the same time. Come to realize this is the new norm. Feel slightly depressed around October. Be confused about what is happening. Do you hate New York now? Do you want to leave? Do you need a vacation? Spend a lot of time alone. Watch Cheers every single night after class, in between writing papers and staring at the ceiling. Relate to Diane. Relate to her too much.

You must believe sincerely and with all your heart that New York hates you. Come to understand that everyone feels this way. Realize that New York does this thing where it makes you feel like you can be anyone you have ever wanted to be while simultaneously reminding you that you are no one special. Realize you are in an abusive relationship with a metropolitan city. Feel fine about that.

Go home for nearly a month in December to see your family. See your friends. Drink with them. Eat a lot of burritos and kiss your nephew a lot. Miss New York. Feel your longing for the city like a burning hole in your heart. Count the days until you fly back.

Lose two jobs in one and a half months. At this point, start to wonder if you have to leave New York. Fight to stay. Do anything to stay in New York. Make sure to be confused, but understand completely your fervent desire to stay in New York. Realize you love this city.

Meet a lot of people. There are so many fucking people to meet. Go to brunch with some of them. Out for drinks with others. Make plans. Cancel them. Have your plans cancelled on you. Never see some of the people you laughed so hard and sincerely with again. Feel fine about that. Also make sure to feel really messed up about that.

Be unsure about how you’re going to pay rent. Never sleep. Stay up way too late. Watch the sun come up from your bedroom window. Watch the dark buildings come to life at the same time every morning.

Keep going. You are so goddamn tired and you just want to go home to your Mom’s house for one weekend. Do not, under any fucking circumstances, book a flight home. Keep going. Keep looking for jobs. Every single day. Land a job interview for a hostess position at a fancy restaurant. Feel that things are looking up.

One spring morning, wake up, get dressed, walk to the library. Realize, while looking at apple blossoms
in the trees that you are having your second April in New York.

Feel hopeful about all that.