Old Age, Optimism, and Omphaloskepsis

I missed the memo on old age, optimism, and omphaloskepis.

All week, I had been psyched to see The Avengers with my husband, but he got shafted into working all day.  Sucks for him,  but I wasn’t going to let pre-arranged babysitting services go to waste, so I figured I’d still go to the movies on my own.  But instead of swashbuckling superheroes, I spent my afternoon with a fairly attractive bunch of geriatrics (that description applies to both the actors on the screen and most of the audience.)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel features every elderly British actor you can think of and they’re all amazing.  The characters are in turn sad, sweet, sage, and even sexy.  These are people who are coming in to the homestretch, so to speak, and have found themselves in a dilapidated hotel in India trying to make sense of their long lives and find happiness in the time left to them.

I’m getting to the point in my life where the idea of old age is starting to feel very, very real.  When you’re a kid, you can’t even fathom what it would be like to get old, but now I can sort of glimpse it.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel offers an interesting vision of what the  “golden years” could be like, and one of the recurring themes is one of irrepressible optimism:

This gem is offered up by the character of Sonny (as played by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame) who is the hotel’s proprietor.  Not much is going right for Sonny, except true love, but he is a great spin doctor for himself.  He has an adorable way of rehabilitating even catastrophic news in order to find the bright side.   Sonny is optimistic almost to the point of delusion, but y’all know how I feel about hope, so this is the kind of crazy cheerfulness I can really buy into.

But the little aphorism that’s quoted throughout the film goes beyond optimism, I think.  It’s the idea that maybe, if things are a real mess, the universe gives you enough time to sort them out.  Or maybe, if it is the end, and things are still a mess, you find the grace to accept the mess and be okay with it.  Either way it works, it sounds pretty good to me.

And that brings me to omphaloskepis, which is the practice of staring into one’s navel in order to achieve a meditative state.  As this blog probably illustrates, I navel gaze quite a bit, not so much to meditate, but just to try to figure stuff out, and maybe just amuse myself.   It’s a skill that will come in handy when I’m an octogenarian living in India.  Memo received.




Movie Theater Justice

I missed the memo about movie theater justice.

I’m not usually a big fan of action/adventure/super hero movies, but I’m kind of jonesing to see the new Avengers movie.  I’m hearing great things about it and I’m thinking my husband and I may bestow upon this film the highest possible honor…hiring a babysitter so we can go see it together.  Seriously, it looks that good.

As I look forward to seeing The Avengers (and now that the statute of limitations has run) I want to tell one of my favorite stories about my husband, as it’s about a time when he avenged me at the movies.   A few years ago, we were at the theater enjoying a matinée of the Zach Braff  and Natalie Portman classic, Garden State.  As you might guess, this movie drew a rowdy crowd.

Caution: This quirky romance may inspire fist-a-cuffs.

As we were watching the movie, the guy in the row in front of us kept burping.  And we’re not talking little “oh pardon me” type burps.  This guy was burping like he was trying to win a contest.  Being the shrinking violet I am, I leaned forward and said, “Dude.”  And my husband said, “Man, grow up.”

In California, this passes for a very complete conversation.

The gassy theater goer did not acknowledge us, but apparently got the message, as he quit the burping and we all settled in for another hour or so of idiosyncratic sap.  But as the movie ended, the burper headed to the exit, turned around and threw his soda cup at the back of my head.  I wasn’t hurt, but clearly such an affront could not stand. Quick as a flash, my strapping husband was out of his seat and charging up the aisle.  By the time I made my way there, blows were exchanged.  The coup de grace came when my husband grabbed the guy’s face and drove it into his knee, and likely broke the guy’s nose.

Don’t mess with my husband. He knows Kung Fu, or at least he did when he was a teenager. See, that’s him in the middle. I think that means he just won, and I’m pretty sure he swept the leg and showed no mercy.

Understandably, at this point the burper pretty much punked out surrendered and wisely fled to the men’s room.  Having had enough fun for one day, we got the hell out of there before somebody did something crazy, like filing a police report.

If you know me or my husband, you’ll appreciate how nutty this was.  I think we’re both reasonably assertive, but mostly nice and accommodating people. My husband is a big guy and does have a lot of martial arts training. (And he’s yelling at me that it wasn’t Kung Fu, but rather Tae Kwon Do…whatevs…all I know is that he spent all a lot of his youth in white jammies practicing how to beat people up really bad, but I digress.)  As a consequence,  he can usually speak softly since he is the proverbial big stick. (If you want to make a filthy inference from that, I’m sure he’ll be quite pleased.)  We don’t go around picking fights, but I don’t think anyone would have stood for that soda cup throwing crap.

It was shocking, and I’ll admit a bit thrilling, to see my husband spring into action to defend me. I’m no damsel in distress, but it sure is nice to have a strong, decisive guy in your corner when the chips are down.  As I’ve said before, my husband is a nice guy, but he can be a total badass when he has to be. And I love that about him.  Wife avenged and memo received.