Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tonight, The Matron Is Thinking of You, Son

Remember that today the Matron took Scarlett to audition for Madeline and the Gypsies and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at the highly competitive professional Minneapolis Children's Theater?

And while you knew, crafty reader, that this experience would give the Matron material, you would never have imagined it would get this good. Or tragic.

First, Scarlett did not get a callback for the lead roles in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. But her dear friend Addie did!

And Scarlett screamed with joy and said: "I wanted her to get in more than my own self!"

That's my baby. Me, too! Break a leg, Addie. We're big fans!!!

Callbacks for Madeline and ensemble roles in both show stagger in, and some, not till August. This life is not for the feint of heart or anyone in a hurry. Of course, Scarlett is seasoned and genuinely oblivious to competition.

Remember the Matron's very fine rule for auditioning at high-octane places? She listens but does not partake in conversation.

Over 260 children auditioned. Scarlett smiled as a perky metrosexual male snapped a Polaroid photo and pinned #226 to her dirty t-shirt.

While we were waiting in a large room for the children to be called from our 3:00 group, a mother in expensive everything ushered in her beautiful daughter, Deirdre, who looked about Scarlett's age (9).

There was an 8 x 11 head shot ---and the resume? Two pages!

This mother knew another: they hugged and air-kissed and quickly caught up -- uh, I mean ran down the long list of Deirdre's recent achievements (commercials, film, photo shoots, theater).

Since nobody else in the room was talking (most of these families were fresh meat, staring nervously at their fingers; the Matron, being both pro and sociologist, was unabashedly observing) we all heard every word about short jaunts to Vegas for commercials, complaints about lazy managers, two-week jobs in Paris and wily agents.

Did you know the Coen brothers are still casting for their upcoming made-in-Minnesota movie?

Both those mothers did--and more importantly, who to call.

Deirdre's mother brushed her daughter's hair and ( a Matronly favorite ahead!) removed the child's boots for her and slipped on the shoes. She flipped the child's bountiful black hair into a ponytail and inspected her work.

Did we mention that Scarlett has not washed her hair since last Sunday and auditioned with chocolate on the corners of her lips? The Matron cannot remember the last time she changed this child's shoes. Maybe six years ago?

The mother, not satisfied with the very important ponytail, redid it, three times.

At this point, the Matron fully appreciated the one woman show she was watching. She duly noted that an entire room---25 actors and at least one (sometimes 2) parents,, so make that about 60 total strangers - knew one and only one child's name and what Dedee (we knew the nickname by then too) had been up to lately. And that it was more than you.

The Matron could not help herself. She giggled.

And caught the eye of one parent, who smiled back. Until this point, he had worked with laser focus on his laptop. His teenage daughter was reading a book. But he too, took note of Deirdre and her mother. The Matron and the laptop guy shared raised eyebrows.

After the children trotted off to do their stuff, Dedee's mother and the friend had an intimate conversation.

You know, the kind you save for the privacy of home?

And this is when the remaining 35 strangers learned that Deirdre's 15-year old half- brother from the mother's first marriage is: "Simply not worth the trouble."

Deirdre's Mother: "And I refuse to have him live with us. He just begs. Says his father's new wife hates him. He wants his mother. But I cannot condone the bad grades and all that trouble."

Friend (not also insane or utterly heartless): "Hmmmmmm."

Deirdre Mother: "I mean, he sometimes lies! He is, this is painful, a C student! He has no focus, no plan, no idea what he wants to do when he grows up. I'm sorry, but I just can't risk this. I don't want DeDee to see this as a model for adolescence."

Friend: "Of course not. You have to draw a line."

Deidre's Mother: "So I am just cutting him loose to his father. He accuses me of loving Dee more! Can you imagine? But when he says this, I just balance that scale: straight A's, the acting and modeling, the career -- to constant struggle and failure. I mean, it's not that I love him less but I cannot tolerate what he's doing. So I am just finished. This is in his father's hands."

And this is where the Matron debated the legality of walking over to this woman and beating her over the head until her brain re-arranged itself into some other formation -- something foreign, like love and acceptance for her own child, however unhappy, direction-less (and shall we say, damaged) that child is.

There was more. A lot more about how undesirable that teenage boy is and how he will never ever stand in the way of Deidre's fabulous career. She exhibited absolute disregard and frequent venom for her child. At one point--when the mother recounted how she refused to hire a tutor for the son in math because she would not enable his shortcomings -- the Matron checked the corners and walls to see if there were hidden cameras. Could this possibly be some weird joke? Reality TV?

When she realized it wasn't, the Matron choked back tears. She caught the eye of that father with the laptop, who shook his head and fairly radiated despair.

Torture ended when the children bounced back in. That's when someone said to the laptop guy's daughter: "Aren't you XX? Weren't you Leisl in The Sound of Music at the Ordway this fall? You were Annie! Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz!"

Turns out that the utterly unobtrusive laptop father is parent to one of the hottest child actors in town, the kid who carries dinner theater productions and major shows and has been working steadily for a decade (and she's probably 16).

Proving that decency and scale can be rewarded. The Matron wanted to throw both virtues to the wind and plant a big juicy one on this parent, who pretty much restored her faith in humanity.

And Deidre? She got the callback. Number 431. Daughter and mother squealed and embraced, gave each other high-fives.

Several other children also got callbacks (by the number) but nobody knew who they were.

Tonight, the Matron is thinking of a 15 year old boy who feels unloved by his stepmother. Who doesn't understand geometry and is afraid no college will accept him. Who asked his mother if he could live with her -- and she said no. A 15-year old boy full of fear and hormones and longing, who understands that his mother not only loves him less, but has washed her hands of him.

She imagines this teenage boy a newborn, helpless, rancid with the wet milk smell. Thinks of him at 4, vulnerable and open, waiting for the world to imprint a story on that clean slate. At six, he still sleeps with his blanket and his face falls into something more like a baby than a boy. He's a first-grader, with a Bat Man lunch box and a peanut-butter sandwich. At 11? Cocky, with baseball bat and glove never far away. Now that he's a teen, he is full of rage and love and power and certainty (even when he's wildly unsure and afraid). If his cell phone isn't in a pocket or palm, he knows something vital will happen at that very minute--and he'll miss the most important moment of Life.

And the Matron? She didn't expect it. But as she was setting the table for dinner, loose and open, unsuspecting and probably premenstrual-- she cried for this child.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why Is This Animal Still Alive? And More.

The Matron really wonders where that hit man might be.


Scruffy made his usual round of pooping through the house: third floor, kitchen, Scarlett's room. He has a regular junket.

He ate a box of pink Marshmallow Peeps.

He jumped the fence three times, ran into the road and still didn't manage to get killed.

He ate half a Subway sandwich: bacon, mayo, cheese.

He ate a giant-size box of Bottle Caps.

This combination made his little heart pace. He shook--all that sugar coursing through those 14 tiny pounds.

And when the Matron's stone cold heart melted at his suffering and she picked him up and put him in her lap?

That dog peed on her. A lot.

Her day, generally, has been a real hum-dinger.

See this? This is called Winter.

Ring, Ring, Ring.

Mother Nature: "Hello?"

Matron: "The new season is Spring, sister. We get grass and blue sky. Tulips."

Mother Nature: "Did that dog just pee on you?"

Matron: "Did you send him, too?"

It is pretty but the Matron has seen this show before and she's ready for new runs of sunlight and mud.

Still, the Matron was buoyed by all the wonderful comments regarding the Other Mother. She feels, well, better. More solid in her sensible shoes.

Thank you!

Then, it occurred to the Matron that Other Mother's daughter plays "Smart girl who is self-assured and happy," while the Matron's daughter plays?

A weasel.

Tomorrow, the Matron takes her weasel across the river to Minneapolis to audition for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at the highly competitive Children's Theater. She will remember her duel with the Other Mother and read her book, quietly.

At high-octane places, it is best not to converse with the women who gave birth to the competition.

This, below, is something the Matron lovingly refers to as glop.

It is her version of grits, mashed potatoes, beefy lasagna, of fill-the-belly comfort food. This is baked squash with kelp, peppers, tomato, spinach, blue cheese and tahini mixed in. The Matron just loves the stuff.

The glop sat unprotected, exposed, within inches of the shuddering, shaking Scruffy who just turned his nose.

Stryker: "Even Scruffy has limits."

Did you hear that?

The wine's uncorking.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Once, the Matron Wrote for The New York Times

Oh my!

Today's post generated instant advice and big demand for the Matron's New York Times byline.

Here it is, folks.

In short, it's all about who you know. I am so sorry that the world works this way.

The Matron has another dear friend who has deep faith in the Matronly writing skills. This friend pens all those wedding announcements -- you know, the Sunday edition of Who is Who and Better than You.

Maybe they met the Other Mother? Please read this, too, because the Matron? She needs your help.

So there was this hockey wedding in Minnesota and the friend? She did not want to attend. Jaded, done with weddings, busy.

So she tapped the Matron, who was contacted by the Times and required to send many writing samples and blood from her left big toe.

The Matron attended this wedding where an elderly man held her hand and wept because the Times had representation. When there was a line in the ladies' restroom? The red sea parted.

"She's from the Society Pages from the New York Times! Let her go first!"

And, she did.

The bride and the Matron were rivals for center of attention. People pointed and gawked.

She (the Matron) loved it.

And on Sunday morning when she woke up and saw that byline and knew that the very first thing Barbra Streisand does every Sunday is read the Vows column, she nearly fainted.

Better yet? The bride called her and cried. She loved it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Female Anatomy


After school, Stryker dove into the grocery bag on the front seat, starving.

He retrieved this: "What is this snack? Kloh-r -eye-n free tame pones? Is this candy? A tamepone? Can I try one?"

Me: "That would be chlorine free tampons. The things women use when they have their period. To catch the blood."

That box catapulted from his hand, fire. He recoiled. Nearly bathed. Yes, he'll make a fine husband.


The Matron, not understanding her life was in danger, blithely drove across University Avenue today. And--someone ran a red light.

As in tires screeching, vehicles swerving, momentary mayhem as the wayward car aimed it's briskly paced self directly at the Matron's door. Instead of seeing her life flash before her, she saw the man on the corner gasp and drop his brief case, all horror.

When the wayward vehicle straightened itself and beat a hasty departure--missing the Matron by about one inch--she pulled over so that every neuron in her body could snap, crackle and pop before dissolving.


The totally hypothetical philosophical question of the day for all forty-something mothers of three who sometimes forget to Kegel and have given vaginal birth, three times, and occasionally endure the extremes of Bikram Yoga.

Is it okay to pee in the shower at the gym?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Incurable Clutter Brain Suck and That Daughter

The Matron has written about this affliction, here.

In short, she suffers from Incurable Clutter Brain Suck. She cannot tolerate clutter

If in a pile of snow pants, Spider Man sunglasses, math notebooks, boots, ballet slippers, police matchbox cars, Game boys, Little House on the Prairie books and Dominos, the Matronly brain itself becomes such detritus. She is unable to focus. To move forward. To commandeer the crew, as it is.

And the Matron has mentioned that debris just flies off of Scarlett. Pig-Pen is not a cartoon character. No, he had transgender surgery and is now living in her house.

This is a shelf in the Matron's bedroom.

This is one in Scarlett's.

The aerial view, to appreciate density and depth.

Another peek? (know that the Matron relies on ancient series of yogic breaths just in order to post these)

IF the Matron cannot tolerate clutter, Scarlett cannot tolerate free surface space, it would appear. That Kleenex box sits upon 50 ponytail holders.

She can be home just under five minutes and this will appear on the floor.

As said before, the Matron and Scarlett have had some dark Freudian battles over this room. Trusting in the time-honored power of Total Deception, the Matron developed a habit of spending a few speedy minutes in Scarlett's room every single day in order to keep bugs, rodents and her own psychological dissolution at bay.

If she missed a day, it became difficult to open the door.

Last night, as costumes from Scarlett's Private Backyard Theater Company filled the entire floor and props filtered out into the hallway, the Matron could no stop herself: she picked stuff up -- while Scarlett was in the house.

And got caught.

Post-hysteria --and I mean this morning because this is a child who made a conscious decision to stop pooping at 3 and went 27 days (and then did it again) AND who once belly-crawled to the car in protest over life's ambulatory requirements --- so this morning we had some semblance of a conversation in which Scarlett stuck to her assertion that her room was just that, hers.

And the Matron held forth that certain standards of hygiene and decency must be enforced. She's willing to concede the clutter. To a point. She believes that a parent should be able to enter the room without being bitten by wildlife.

Scarlett firmly disagrees. In fact, she has declared the Matron to be persona non grata.

So. That Matron? She is backing off. Not because that's the right thing to do -- encouraging autonomy in her child, developing trust or anything that sane.

No, she's banking that one day Scarlett forgets and Total Deception can start all over again.