Sunday, November 27, 2005

My brain is a sieve. Her Brain?

I keep telling my kids when I forget to hand in the permission slip, or I come to pick them up twenty minutes early and then bitch at them for making me wait, that my brain is a sieve. Now it's a family joke. Mommy forgot milk? Her brain is a sieve. Mommy can't remember your name? Her brain is a sieve.

My parents are staying with me for the holiday, and one of the reasons my husband bought me the boxed set of Horatio Hornblower was to have something on hand to entertain the two very educated parents. (Dad is a Ph.D. from MIT, Mom is a Ph.D. in Renaissance Comparative Literature from Harvard.)

When the movies start, my Dad is in the kitchen with me, bringing me up to date about Nelson's naval strategies. I keep saying things like, "Yes, Dad. Actually they talk about the Fire Ships in this series. Yes, Dad. They have the Marines on board the ships in this series. Yes, Dad. They are wearing different uniforms; they are land soldiers." Mom calls in, "Come watch it!" So I'm relieved of his wisdom, but soon I realize the real reason she wants him sitting next to her. It's not to make my job of cleaning dishes easier, it's that she needs a blow-by-blow account of the action which is unfolding directly in front of her.

When did my intelligent mother become so befuddled and elderly? (OMG! That means one day I'LL be befuddled and elderly!!! AGH!!)

They've now watched six 2-hour movies. Exact quotes I have overheard during this period:

"Who's that?"

"What's the name of that ship?"
"It doesn't have a name. It's just a merchant ship."
"But what's its name?"

"Why are they speaking French?" (My favorite. And my favorite response from my Dad, "BECAUSE THEY'RE FRENCH!")

"Is he an Admiral?"
"No. A lieutenant."
"Why isn't he an Admiral?"

"Who's that?"

"Why are they speaking Spanish?"

"Isn't he dead?"

I remember as a child gathering around the television so we could watch Masterpiece Theatre together. We watched the entire "Upstairs, Downstairs" series, of course. But I also remember "I, Claudius." And for every plot twist, every new assassination, we were on the edge of our seats. (Hey! Anyone remember Patrick Stewart wearing a particularly bad curly black wig for "I, Claudius"? I do! I do!) (Hey! I found it!)

I also remember "Elizabeth I" and various Shakespeare dramas (Henry IV?). And Mom and Dad debated how close to the original plot the adaptation was, or whether the nuance of a particular character came across in the costume choices in this production.

What happened to this woman's brain? It is upsetting and shocking that she's this obtuse.

Course, my ten year old daughter has the answer to the problem at hand. She once told me that after shopping with Grandma, they came out of the store and Grandma turned to her and said, "I have no idea where the car is. Can you find it for me?" Daughter told me the story and finished with, "You know how you always say your brain is a sieve? Grandma's is a bathtub drain. There's no plug."



CindyS said...

The dreaded fear of becoming my mother. At least you remember your mother being all that. Here's something. Maybe, just maybe she has heard all of hubby's stories so in order for them to have quality time together *they* talk through shows.

Bob and I are known for mocking TV shows. Even our favourite shows. We don't have children so we'll never know what those younguns' think when we continue doing this into our dotage. They'll think we're stupid and we'll know we're making fun. At least, let's hope so!


Suisan said...

Well, they do talk through everything, and she's really annoyed at his repetition of old saws, but this was more of an inability to follow the plot as it unfolded in front of her.

I don't think she could tell which character was which. Kind of a handicap in a conversation, don't you know.

I am secure in the knowledge that I will become my mother. I'm just not sure who's ending up as my father.

Megan Frampton said...

Oh, I love this story! And, btw, our resemblances are getting scarier: my parents are both Harvard grads, met there, got pregnant in Mom's senior year. She graduated, thank goodness.

But my dad is SUCH A CAVILER (sp?). He will nitpick every detail, 'specially when it comes to boats, and ocean living (he lives in Cape Cod), and the Regency period, which he is an expert in because of me, and basically anything he knows anything about. We just spent a week of playing "Guess Who's Clever," where the answer is always my dad. Aaaagh!

And loved I, Claudius, too. I read the book a lot also.

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