Friday, August 13, 2010

Julia Roberts and the case for euthanasia

There is no visit to my mother's house more fraught with peril than on the release date of Eat, Pray, Love. A cursory examination of her DVD collection reveals gems like Under the Tuscan Sun, Something's Gotta Give, and only those movies that didn't earn Meryl Streep an Oscar nomination. While I remember her reading the book a few years ago, it was so contrary to her possession of a JD from Cornell that I blocked it out of conscious memory. But then the trailer came out. The posters covered every flat surface in New York, with Julia Roberts' staid portrait in perfect imitation of Mao. My fate, it seemed, was sealed.

Eat, Pray, Love is like the Rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail; it seems harmless until it ravages your jugular with sepsis-inducing fury. This analogy carries the essential incongruity: My mom happens to love Monty Python. She owns Blade Runner, despises John Mayer, and calls Nicholas Sparks "white bread." How can a woman with such an acute cultural lens have a blind spot for concocted, saccharine romantic comedies?

Inevitably, she'll appeal to my physiology. "You have a uterus, right? You're going to love Georgia Rule!" I did, mom. I loved that it unraveled when Lindsay Lohan's character began accusing people of child abuse. Next she'll ply me with free dinner, a weakness she exploits with great frequency. Cursing myself for my love of fire-baked tilapia, I'll surrender to the inexorable pull of the movie theater. A scrolling marquee describes the terror that awaits, frantically blinking a warning of "EAT PRAY LUV...7:05PM." As the gaping black hole laughingly accepts its sacrifice, I will my lobes into two-hour dormancy.

Sitting at Cheesecake Factory in the aftermath, my senses are dulled. Everything I see is in soft focus, and when the waitress arrives I search weakly for a menu. A wickedly coy phrase goes through my head. "On August 13th, let yourself go." The utterance that escapes my mouth comes as from another entity. "Give me...a starch."

I love Big Brother. Calgon, take me away.

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