EST. May 2000 (AD)


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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

By Pamela Miller

There are standards to uphold. Unlike those over-sharing media whores on reality television, the true lady knows to always hold back, to plant false information, and to remain calm. Screaming, jumping up and down, and losing bladder control are never attractive in the grand scheme of things. Even the most sophisticated and/or jaded femme fatale has a weak spot, an Achilles heel that reveals the inner geek. Some fond of hyperbole conclude everyone has a rich gooey center, and not in the cadaver on the table way. (Whenever someone says everyone likes something, there is a knee jerk response of “not me.” Truly, there is nothing universal about enjoying a picnic, but those armed with baskets adamantly affirm there is fun to be had while eating without back support under the blazing hot sun, risking botulism, rashes, and getting conked in the head by an errant Frisbee.) It’s best never to let anyone know your secrets, your dreams, where you hide the embarrassing CDs. If you travels take you somewhere a bit too revealing, don’t say a word.

What makes a trip embarrassing? Start with when the dream to travel to this special place first occurred. If you were nine, you likely wrote about it in purple ink in a child’s diary with a broken lock and a puppy on the cover. And there’s probably a fair amount of mixing reality with fantasy. So do you tell strangers you first wanted to go to England to follow in the footsteps of Paddington Bear? This would be the first opportunity to lie. Say anything but the following: Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh.

(Fun unrelated factoid: Every Winnie the Pooh character represents a different mental illness.)

Go with your gut instinct. If you have even the tiniest inkling that your trip will become fodder for future jokes, keep it to yourself. There is a restored Shaker Village in Kentucky. The Shakers are long gone, but you can stay on the premises in a tiny, TV-free room, enjoying forced dining experiences with other guests. During the day you can watch elderly people make brooms, knead dough, and explain to the tourists why a celibate religious movement was not a great call in the long run. One happy comment might lead to others popping down to visit the colony. And the next morning you’ll be given an earful about your poor understanding of fun, the molasses cookies which could induce a diabetic coma, and the bonnets. (Apparently some people prefer not to base their travels around bonnet-friendly cultures.)

Did you dream of going to Broadway because of Annie? Change your story now. Did you want to go to Hawaii to recreate a Brady Bunch moment? Put down the tiki idol. Are you looking for the Golem of Prague? That one’s okay. While you’re in Prague, check out the old Jewish cemetery with the ancient gravestones. (Yes, that’s the Vulcan hand salute you see carved on many of the graves. It’s actually the mark of the Kohen and it doesn’t mean “live long and prosper.”)

Another aspect of over the top geekiness: you have shared interests with middle school students. You were supposed to grow out of a few things, and that includes puppy love, pop songs, and vampire fetishes. The names may have changed, but the story remains the same. Add in a dream of playing Quidditch, and you’ve lost all your grown up credit with the kids and the respect of your adult acquaintances.

To illustrate this point, it was necessary (for the purpose of journalistic integrity) to make a pilgrimage to the heartland. (This is the muscle in your chest, not the flat part of North America known for fields where people grow crops of some sort. They sang about it in Oklahoma.) The actual transport took place on a train. The destination was a major city in the United States. And the purpose was to catch the Glee Live Tour.

Take a moment to squeal or shudder, as is your wont.

The crowd was bedecked and bejeweled. The younger people wore homemade shirts with catch phrases from the popular television show. A six-year-old with elaborate hair accessories was holding her father’s hand, singing a power ballad written long before her conception. The guy next to me was downing a beer at 11:00 AM. (Something tells me attendance at this show was his girlfriend’s idea.)

Then the lights went down and the kids hit the stage. They were adorable. They wanted the crowd to keep holding on, to share one’s true colors, to jump while walking in sunshine. (Yes, many of these messages were first shared in the 1980s. Don’t be a hater.) Even their performance of “Push It” was reminiscent of the shenanigans of the slumber party set. (At least that’s what I hope the seven-year-old in front of me was thinking.) The crowd swayed and sang and shared in this moment of joy.

Positives: Bladder control maintained.

Negatives: Photographic evidence of a jaded sophisticate smiling like a goon during “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

Final Analysis: Rich gooey center confirmed.

Convenient Lie: Spent the weekend cliff diving in a remote part of Mexico.

Coolness Factor: Preserved.

Copyright © 2010 by Pamela Miller




Copyright © 2008 by Pamela Miller