Thursday, March 01, 2007

Calendar Girls

There are a lot of reasons why I like the movie. It's English. It's smart. And it's just edgy enough to satisfy the rebellious nature of this Christian conservative. Julie Walters and Helen Mirren are both brilliant.

That's why I like the movie. But the reason that I love the movie has nothing to do with nakedness or the actual plot at all.

Do you remember that one scene when Jay Leno flies the Calendar Girls to L.A.? It's obvious that international first class is not exactly standard fare for these women, as they squeal and gawk at the posh in-flight accommodations. They throw decorum to the wind as they play with their seats and order wine. They use every item in their goodie bags - including the eye masks and the little sock booties. Most of all they enjoy it because they are together - a crazy experience shared with dear friends. It's a very short scene, but with me it resonated.

When I was a junior in college, my Aunt Lucy took me on an amazing trip - a safari to Tanzania. And she didn't take just me, she took all my Mothers.

That's right, Jessi and her five Mothers traveled across the African bush taking only pictures and leaving only LandRover tracks.

My five Mothers consist of my mother (she gets in by default), my Aunt Lucy, Mrs. Harding, Linda, and Lorraine. These women have been part of my life forever. When my mom threw her back out, Mrs. Harding flew in to take care of us. When we moved to Anchorage we lived in Lorraine's two bedroom house for four months - and the Gates family is small neither in number nor proportion. Linda used to come up every year from her home in Boston to watch the Iditarod, laden with live lobsters and Red Sox paraphernalia. Finally she gave up and just moved up here. Aunt Lucy sends me and my mother books by the boxful - just the good ones. And then there's Mom, who is smart and hilarious and becoming more like me every day.

So picture Jessi and her five Mothers traveling to Tanzania - International First Class.

Actually, you don't have to picture it. I think they caught it on film for this movie called Calendar Girls.

Mom and I first watched this movie in the summer of 2004, just about a week after Lorraine passed away very suddenly. We were still shocky and griefy and a mess and the airplane scene struck us both the same way. True and funny and sad. We looked at each other and smiled upsidedown smiles.

I want to write more about Lorraine - how she would steal me away before I was old enough to go to school and take me to high tea. How she dyed her hair "bodacious burgundy." How she made the best mint brownies, popcorn and hot chocolate. Ever.

But this post is getting long. And rambling.

My point is that International First Class is best when taken with a healthy dose of menopause.


Katrina said...

What an amazing and precious memory! I'm totally jealous of your safari, and still rolling around the phrase "bodacious burgundy" in my head. It's very satisfying. :D What a blessing to have five moms (and I'm sure they're equally blessed to have you!)

Sam I am said...

very good post Jessi. You can really capture a point and an era.
Also, Aunt Lucy is nothing like I pictured her.

AND, on nothing related...please please please do yourself a favor and rent the movie The King of Comedy (with Robert De Niro), watch it and keep the sincere thanx to a minimum.

jessi said...

Ooh. Will do. Maybe tomorrow night.