Skeered of Dracula

I think it’s way past time for me to give a bellowing shout-out to one of the greatest ’80s movies of all time.  Do you know it?  Do you love it?  (Of course you know it.  Of course you love it.)

I remember watching this movie in the theater when I was in the fifth grade, then coming home and singing “Now I gotta cut looose!” as I jumped off the back of my dad’s pickup, kicking up my white sneakered heels before landing on the ground in the prone position.  From here I’d roll directly into a driveway somersault and finish with my hands spread magnanimously to an imagined audience, a la Willard at the end of his triumphant learning-to-dance scene on the farm.

Do you remember it?  Do you love it?

A quick aside before I explain what Footloose has to do with Dracula: Many years after my front-yard dancing, I watched this movie on video and could not believe it had been such a tightly woven thread in the fabric of my ten-year old mind.  I would never let my kids watch it today.  Terrible language.  Terrible morals.  Tons of smoking and drinking.  Parents were idiots, religion was idiotic, teenagers knew best.  Bad messages, all.  But–I said it then and I’ll say it now–it was so geeood!  Who could resist?  Even a ten-year old girl appreciates Ren dragging on a cig by the side of his VW, frustrated by the aging imbeciles seeking to opress him.  I could fully relate:  my parents wouldn’t even let me quit my paper route.

Okay. So in one of the movie’s best scenes, Ren is hauling wheat (?) in the factory when Ariel walks up to him, bends her long cowboy-booted leg to rest on his stack of bags, and dares him to meet her boyfriend, Chuck, on “his daddy’s farm.”  In a fashion we’ve come to expect at this point in the film, Ren never loses his cool.

Ren:  “And what if I don’t show up?”

Ariel:  “People will know you’re skeered.”  This is how she pronounces it.  Skeered, not scared.  “Anyway, Chuck will find you.  You want that?”  She then whips around in her skinniest-of-all skinny jeans and struts away.  Oh, how I wanted to be Lori Singer! (Still do.) (I’ll bet she’s nice.)

So my sisters and I decided, roughly three decades ago, that skeered was the word we would use when we were super-duper-scared, not just light- or medium-scared.  It worked.  And it stuck.  Skeered has been and ever will be the Christensen Female’s all-purpose go-to word to enhance one’s expression of any extreme anxiety or terror.  (In my family, instead of expanding our vocabularies, we quote movies.  This saves us a lot of trouble.)  For example:

Age 11:  “I’m skeered to wear these gym clothes Mom sewed for me to PE!”  Turns out this fear was justified.  Middle schoolers are not known for showing mercy.

Age 14:  “I’m skeered that when Doug finds out I stole another one of his enormous, block-print sweaters from The Bon to wear over my stretch pants, he won’t drive us to the stake dance this weekend!”  For those of you unaware, Doug is my older brother by four years.  He was an eighteen year old boy, I was a fourteen year old girl and yes, I was stealing his winterwear.  The sweaters were baggy on him, so you can imagine how flattering they were on my prepubescent frame, especially over light-blue stretch pants and bunchy yellow socks.  (Where, for the love, was my mother??)

Age 2o:  “I’m skeered of my new roommate!  She: cooks stinky food/leaves gobs of hair in the tub/has a boyfriend from home who looks like “The Fly”/sleeps all day every day/swears that Beauty and the Beast (Disney version) is her favorite movie of all time!”  (Pick one.  I had them all.)

Age 27:  “I’m skeered to eat these mussels!”  One evening in our early married life I steamed fresh mussels and served them over linguini in an attempt to dignify yet another home-cooked meal.  It looked so elegant in the magazine.  I followed the recipe to a tee and watched in horror as the mussel shells opened up slowly…ever so slowly…hissing out angry steam along with the smell of a tuna-glazed gym sock.  Derrick, who was famously generous with his praise for me in the kitchen, stood quietly behind me and watched the unveiling.  He then rested his chin on my shoulder and softly whimpered in my ear…”I’m skeered!”  (Turns out this fear was justified, too.  They were Nast-O.)

Age 37:  “I’m skeered to finish Dracula!”  At the suggestion of a few friends, I am ringing in the Halloween season this fall by reading the greatest goth horror book of all time.  (Nice way to sidestep the darker side of the holiday, don’t you think?)  At first I looked forward to reading this novel, figuring it would be old and hoaky; scary “for its day.” At the very least, I thought, I’d finally get a glimpse of a genre I had heretofore avoided, and thus broaden my understanding of nineteenth century literature as a whole.  It would be an interesting little read, I thought.



Seventy-five pages into it, and I am terrified.  Terrified.  It’s sitting over there in the living room right now, on the little table by the couch, the dark face on the cover staring up at me with those horrible red eyes.  I’ll admit that I’m curious–intrigued, evenby this book.  The writing is fabulous.  I want to know what happens next.  I want to know if he makes it out alive.  There’s just one problem:  I’m skeered!

Which is why I’m writing a blog about Footloose tonight instead of reading Dracula, like I’d planned to.  I don’t want to fall asleep and dream about the Count in the creepy castle.  I want to dream about Ren: kissing Ariel after she gives him the music box, beating up Chuck outside the dance hall, rendering the Reverend speechless at the town meetin’ when he quotes scripture to make his case for dancing.  (Don’t tell me this movie’s not deep.)

In fact, now that I’ve thought about it, Footloose is a classic in a genre all its own. (We’ll call it Crappy Trash that Molded the Young Minds of Generation X.)  So the way I see it, if I’ve studied this particular genre in all its varieties, why trouble myself with a genre that includes the likes of Dracula?  A genre’s a genre; that’s all I’m sayin’.  Brahm Stoker vs. Kevin Bacon?  We’ll call it sixes.  And at least Kevin won’t leave me skeered.

And off they go…

to another year of school.

(Warning:  another dull catch-up post from my Aug/Sept. nonblogging run.  Sorry.)

It comes every fall, and every fall it’s bittersweet.  Happy for them, sad for me, happy for me.  We had a lot of big changes this year:  Rachael started middle school (!), Megan started a new elementary school, and Ethan started kindergarten.  Naturally, these milestones have occurred under the roof of my parents’ house, which will create lasting memories for my children of that cherished season of their childhood in which Mom and Dad couldn’t get their crap together.  My good kids bear it well.  And they were each thrilled to tackle their new adventures.  I was excited for them.  Kind of.

Skinny-jeaned up and ready to go.  Rachael was so excited for middle school.

Dorky Mom has to take a picture of her walking to the building.  Yes, I have attachment issues.

Megan has a gift for knowing just how much bling is required to make an impression at a new elementary school. (I can only dream of being cute enough to pull off a sparkly silver scarf in August.)

Ethan has a will as steely as the metallic guitars on his shirt, and we fought hard over this outfit.  I wanted him to wear a classy new white polo and plaid shorts I’d bought him, but Ethan’s no dummy.  He knows what kind of clothes get you beat up on the playground.

Ethan was dying to ride the bus to school, so after several days of positive self-talk, I finally let him.  I have never had any of my kids ride the bus before, so this was a big stretch for me.  It’s like a little adventure every day and he absolutely loves it.

I must admit, I was a little depressed after dropping the kids off the first morning.  Okay, really depressed.  As in, teary-eyed-all-day-long-depressed.  But as soon as I picked up Rache and saw her face all lit up with excitement, gushing about how cool middle school is, my mood lifted.  Megan gave the same glowing review, as did Ethan with kindergarten.  I’m sad my kids are slowly leaving my side, but I’m so thankful that they like school.  And now that we’re into it, I’m really just happy to have a little break every day.  (My motherly sentiment always gives way, eventually, to my womanly selfishness.)

And now I want to know from you, my three faithfuls:  What are you happiest/saddest about with the coming of the new school year?  I really want to know–it will make me feel better.  Don’t even think of reading this and bypassing the comment section.  (Do I need to name names, Ashley/Emily/Rachel/Cheryl/Brooks/Stephanie?)  No, I’ve decided against naming names.  You know who you are.

You didn’t think you were getting off that easy, did you?

Oh, no.  I’ve got plenty of vacay photos with which to burden you.  Basically, I am entitling our week in Maui as the best one of my life (no offense to Getting Married or Birthing My Children, but let’s face it:  neither of those events took place on a tropical island.)  The weather was perfect, the water warm, the marine life vibrant, the hotel fabulous, the food delicious, the sights spectacular, the hazelnut gelato to die for. (Tastes just like Nutella.  Seriously.)  Most importantly, I had my husband’s devoted, undivided attention for one whole week.  He didn’t even bring his laptop, which was painful for him but delightful for me.  And we’ve both decided that we like Vacation Derrick much better than Kennewick Derrick.  Vacation Derrick is open with his time, his heart and, most happily, his wallet.  He stays up late to read and chat, gets up early to hit the beach, and spends countless hours in overpriced boutiques helping his wife find the perfect sundress.  Vacation Derrick is sort of like the butterfly who finally escapes the cocoon.  He’s beautiful and breathtaking, but lives only for a few days.  Eight, to be exact.  But what days they were…

The view from our balcony.  After being in the water all day, we’d just sit out here at night and listen to the ocean.  It was so nice.  And yes, that’s a fresh, fragrant lei that Vacation Derrick bought for me immediately upon arrival.  I sniffed it all day long, like the classy broad that I am.

Look at that sky.  Every morning.

On the “Highway to Hana,” which is a tiny curved road that takes you to the lush, rainy side of the island.  We bought a CD that talks you through the four-hour drive, telling you the best places to stop and the history of the island as you go along.  It was so much fun.  I announced at each stop:  “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!” and then at the next stop I’d say, “No, actually, this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!” and on and on it went all day.  The pictures, of course, don’t do any of it justice–especially when factoring in my no makeup/humidified-hair look.  Sorry, but trying to look good in Hawaii just wastes precious snorkeling time in the morning.  Here’s a few more Hana photos:

Driving up to the Haleakala Volcano to watch the sunrise was another grand adventure.  We woke up at 3:30 am to do it, but it was worth every lost minute of shuteye.  Haleakala really was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen.  We stood high above the clouds and looked down as the sun rose to paint the clouds pink and then orange over the purple crater and the cool blue sky.

The only downside?  We were freezing!  We pulled up and saw people covered in puffy coats and heavy blankets while we stood numbly in our thin jackets and flip-flops at 10,000 feet above sea level.  (Hmm…too bad I didn’t have anyone who knows anything about mountain climbing with me.)  After the two-hour drive up, we oohed and aahhed for roughly fifteen minutes, then got the heck out of there and raced back to our heated car.  We made it back to our room at about 8:00, flopped into bed, and slept another few hours before rolling down to the pool for the rest of the afternoon.  Oh, the luxury of childless travel!

And now, ladies, I am pausing in my travelogue to make this next photo my personal gift to you.  Frame it and put it by the mirror in your bathroom.  Then, any morning that you wake up feeling ugly and frumpy, you can look at this picture and tell yourself:  “It could always be worse.  I could be that girl.”

You are welcome.

After Hana and Haleakala, we decided to carpe diem and take a helicopter ride over Maui and Molekai.  It was gorgeous, although pictures taken through thick windows are a wicked, wicked mockery of the real thing:

Our pilot was ultracool and started the trip with the theme song to Magnum P.I.  (This was totally lost on me, much to Derrick’s horror.  Have I mentioned my husband’s mancrush on Tom Selleck?)  And no, that is not me sitting in the front seat.  It is a skinnier girl.  Let me explain:  When we bought our tickets, we were told that we would be sitting in the front seat–with its prime view–unless somebody “lighter” came along.  They were not kidding.  When we arrived at the heliport, the first thing they did was put each passenger on a scale to determine where we would be positioned in the helicopter.  They said nothing, just made us line up, thinnest to fattest, then filed us into the chopper.

It’s a brutal system.

The upside is that although we ended up behind this lady and her husband, we were in front of a conspicuously larger couple.  Derrick and I just looked at each other and shrugged.  “Semifat?” we thought.  “We can live with it.”  This acceptance of mediocrity is becoming a frighteningly comfortable mantra in our lives.

Celebrating our safe return to land.  Air-Maui has a perfect seventeen-year safety record, but you can’t help thinking you may be the first to break it.

We became big promoters of the “hang loose,” or shaka shaka sign.  We felt like we pulled it off very nicely.  I don’t think anyone suspected we were tourists.

I know this post is getting long.  Just a few random images to wrap up:

Best fish taco I’ve ever had.  Geeeooood.

Tastiest breakfast ever at The Gazebo, which is actually an open gazebo sitting right on the beach.  Kahula omelet and macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup:  need I say more? (And by the way, what is up with my chin?  Jay Leno’s got nothin’ on me.)

Loveliest landscaping just outside the restaurant.

Funniest magic/comedy show I’ve ever been to.  (Notice the shaka shaka sign.  Oh yeah.)

Cutest Vacation Hubby on the island.  Need I even point out what he’s doing with both hands?

Dorkiest couple taking a picture of themselves on a hike to the tidepools.

Saddest couple checking out of the hotel.

Happiest couple celebrating their fifteenth wedding anniversary with gratitude and joy.

And to all you who endured this lengthy post:  Shaka Shaka!

(I’m doing it with my hand.  I’m doing it right now.  Can you feel the love?)