What it’s like talking with my mom about movies.

13 05 2008

It seems I’m the one with the memory in my family. Try living with two old folks in your house and you get a lot of questions like “What? What’s that you said?” and stories told again and again. Not even the good kind of stories, the kind you’d like to hear sitting in front of a roaring fire while sipping mulled cider in the dead of winter. No, the kinds of stories I hear repeatedly, even 5,000 miles away via telephone in Brazil, are these: “I saw Mr. Lumbra at the post office. He says hi. He’s getting a root canal on Thursday.” Those are the kinds of things I hear again and again. My mom always makes fun of me for repeating “I’m so tired,” all the time, but I don’t think she’s paid all that much attention to how often I say “You told me that already.”
She’s always been amazed by my memory; in fact, one of my earliest memories is her saying, “Gosh, Gina, how can you remember that?” after I’d told her something I’d remembered, some obscure detail of an outfit she wore or of something someone said on a family vacation in Tennessee.

It’s even worse when we talk about movies, and here’s why: the only actor’s name she can remember is Tom Hanks. In fact, this is SO true that I play a game with her: Name five movies that DON’T have Tom Hanks in them. There’s not even a time limit to this game and here are the ones she continually comes up with:

  • Gone With the Wind
  • Singin’ In the Rain
  • Lassie
  • Bambi

[and then a really long pause]

  • Something’s Gotta Give
[she likes Helen Hunt, too. This last movie varies. Sometimes it’s been “Bridge over the River Kwai,” other times “Mystic Pizza.” But those first four are pretty much standard. I think I play the game just to hear fifth movie because I have to wonder how the hell she thought of it.] 

In any case, we had another one of those conversations tonight via Skype. She was telling me about the movie “Mama Mia” that should be coming out at the end of June/beginning of July, in Vermont. The actors she was TRYING to remember were Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. Here’s how it went:

Mom: Oh! There’s this fantastic movie coming out! It’s “Mama Mia!”
Gina: Isn’t that a Broadway musical?
Mom: Oh yes! But they’ve turned it into a movie!
Gina: Oh. Cool!
Mom: Yes! And let me think….who’s in it? Ohhh, wait.
[At this point, a series of groans begins, as if she is audibly trying to wring her brain for the right names.]
Mom: You know, it’s the one who….she’s blonde….and, you know her. She’s pretty and she’s blonde. You know her! The one who….GLEN CLOSE!
Gina: Oh…well, it could be…
Mom: But it’s not Glen Close. It’s the other one. She sings! And she’s blonde and pretty…You know….She was in….oh, what’s the name of that movie? You know…she’s…..um….
Gina: Meryl Streep?
Mom: YES!! Meryl Streep! And who else…? Um, ah, wait a second….the guy Double O Seven. That guy. There was that guy, right?
Gina: There were a lot of those guys. James Bond?
Mom: Yes. James Bond. But wait, he was the one who…ahhh…uhhh, the one who…
Gina: Sean Connery?
Mom: YES! Sean Connery!
Gina: Sean Connery’s in the movie?
Mom: But not him. No, the other one. The other Double O Seven guy…..Tom Hanks!
Gina: Oh no.
Mom: I was kidding. Lighten up….But you know. Oh, help me! What’s his name? Uhhh…
[This goes on for several seconds and at last, it appears she’s wrung out the right names:]
Pierce Brosnan Brosnan Pierce!
Gina: Pierce Brosnan.
Mom: And there’s so many others!
Gina: We don’t have to figure them out. Two’s enough tonight. You can rest now.

She lets out an exhausted sigh as if she’s thrown herself across a finish line of sorts and appears to collapse, fully spent from remembering names.

It’s not like things are getting worse. This is how they’ve always been, since the beginning of time. She can remember numbers like they’re the keys to breath, but when it comes to names—-even MINE—-she’s hopeless. Trust me. I’ve been called the following: “Tico,” “Murphy,” “Kellie,” “Henry,” “Eliza,” “Frank,” and “Toni.” Those are the names her siblings and niece and nephew, her husband, and two dogs. (I dare you to guess who’s who.) I am her only child. I think that’s why she gave me so many nicknames because it was just easier than remembering my name. But go figure, I respond just as readily to my nicknames than to my real name and in fact, when Dennis calls me “Gina” I think he’s mad at me. 


My mom also told me not to write that conversation, but my writing does no justice to how it is in real life, so it’s not like I wrote it well or even accurately. There’s really much more anguish on her part, and much more laughing on mine. But I know she’s laughing now reading this, so you can just go ahead and take that, Mother. Ah, the pen: so much mightier than the memory.




14 responses

13 05 2008

You’re sooooooooooo gonna get it when you get home, Gidgie !! :<

13 05 2008

Aw, that’s so cute! I laughed so hard when I read the list of names! You two rock! I love your posts together. But did you know that the Sex And The City movie is coming to Brazil either June or July? (Too bad you won’t be here to watch it with us!) it already has the poster on Iguatemi! It’s going to be awsome, and the poster’s real pretty!

13 05 2008

This was such a great story! It reminded me of my conversations with my mom, in Tex-Mex-Spanglish, and I laughed out loud. Moms are great material for our stories ~ my mom’s antics in Texas entertain my friends for hours. It’s a good thing my parents don’t really read my blog or I would have been disowned by now. Oh, and I am SO excited for the Mamma Mia movie!

14 05 2008

Oh Gosh,
I was in stitches reading this! It’s a conversation I would be having with my husband, only I’m your Mom and my husband is you, Gina. My husband and you also share your incredible ability to write! Great piece!
Much Love to all from Tucson AZ

14 05 2008

LOL…I love this post! My mom does this exact same thing.

Woo I really like that old movie ‘Mystic Pizza”…I always pause the channel when I see that its on. Not sure why other than maybe I have a bad addiction to 80’s movies and music?

14 05 2008
Banana Nanika

Hi there,
I’m a former teacher from NYC (Long Island City – right next to Sunnyside!). I live in Brazil now, not far from Campinas. Your blog is amazing!
Just wanted to say that, and good luck in Manhattan and with everything else…(oh, and I wish I’d found your blog sooner, heheh. 😉
xoxo. Nika.

14 05 2008
Nilsa S.

OMG, it’s like talking to my parents. Only they talk right through me saying, “you told me that yesterday.” And they are LONG WINDED to boot. All I can do is remind myself that payback (to my future children) will be such fun!

14 05 2008

Oh thank heavens. I’m so glad I’m not the only one. Do you hear this, Mother? Daughters of the World UNITE!!!!

14 05 2008
Priscilla, a hooker

It’s soooooooo good to find out that there is another person out there with a memory like mine, and I don’t mean you, Gina. I don’t even remember what took place in the movie the day after I watched it. I thought that I was halfway to that condition that old people get which begins with an “A”, what is it you call it…???

14 05 2008

Do I ever know what you mean Gina about Mom and her “abilities” with movie trivia!!! I’ve been doing this back and forth with her for years and even with me writing long movie lists of “must-sees”, I hardly get any information back on the movies, the stars(unless Tom Hanks is in it) or who else was in it. Despite it all, we keep trying!!!!She’s a trip, that Mom of yours! Here’s to Mama Mia and Sex and the City. Looking forward to both!

18 05 2008

I have an explanation for my big sister’s movie dysfunction. I share it, to a lesser degree. I was actually thinking about it last night when I sat down next to son Henry (just home from junior year in college.) He was watching “Seinfeld” and I asked him what the characters’ names were. I told him I’d never watched a complete episode and he said “Are you serious?” with a chuckle of disbelief.
Here’s the story: my siblings and I spent our adolescent summers away from home, and television, of course. By eight grade we began secondary education away from home, and again away from television. We can probably tell you the names of early cartoon shows and some movies and sing plenty of jingles, but we are clearly not on the same track as our peers with regard to being in tune with popular media culture. I would see movies only irregularly as a teenager, a fair amount in college, and rarely since.
Another factor to consider is that, as boomers, we had no videos.
Now, I have to say that I’m glad to be removed from all the tv and film bs. Like Tina, I’d rather be active doing something than passively being entertained and am aware of how hopelessly “out of it” I am. And Mr. Lumbra’s root canal might well interest me more than some star’s new contract, but… only if I heard it once.

18 05 2008

Tico, I love how you chime in with explanations and back stories to my confusions about why my mother is the way she is. God only knows how many times I’ve written about her here already, and how many more times her antics will come up as fodder for my story-telling in the future, so if ever you have reason to add your voice to mine (and as her little brother I’m sure you do) please join in. I like that our family is building a little story right here.

18 05 2008

Hey! What’s the deal here? I guess I have to keep scrolling down the page farther and farther to see if I’m (yet again) FODDER!!

18 05 2008

No, you’re my seester, not my fodder.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: