Tuesday, January 15, 2008

10 Getting to Know You Questions

If you’ve ever watched James Lipton on “Inside the Actors Studio,” you’ll be familiar with these questions, which Lipton adapted from French television personality Bernard Pivot.

I’ve wanted to answer them ever since I first saw the program, and thanks to the Web, who has to wait? I look forward to hearing your answers! (I think this would be great for parties/get-togethers, esp for people who already know each other well.)

Mel’s answers:
1. What is your favorite word?

The Spanish word ‘catorce’ – simply because I love the way it sounds /say it, kah TOR say/. It actually means ‘fourteen.’ I think when I first heard it in 9th grade Spanish class, it just drove home the superior auditory elegance of that language. No single English word comes close. Roll the ‘r’ and see if I’m not right.

2. What is your least favorite word?

‘Sibling’ – a wretched, dehumanizing, clinical term – like bureaucrats trying to make something file-able out of the first and most enduring friendship of my life – hey, sis!

3. What turns you on?


4. What turns you off?

Cruelty, disregard for others

5. What sound or noise do you love?

Opening strands of MASH or WKRP theme music, esp late at night while alone in front of TV (they’ve been my ‘natural’ Zen sedative since I was 16).

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

Car horns AND leaf blowers – it’s a toss-up.

7. What is your favorite curse word? (please use asteriks to avoid censorship)

Bugger – to be honest, I use the f*** word the most, but it just lacks the goofy Britishness of the B word. When I curse consciously – you know, really try to put some effort into it – ‘bugger’ appears every time. I think I’m entertained by the Brits using a sexual term at all, especially subconsciously as they slam their fingers in a drawer.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I’ve already tried a lot of them! But if I could handle the word problems, I think I’d love astrophysics. Exploring the beauty and unknowableness of the universe has to be the biggest adventure of our age. Trying to understand unknowable things reminds me very much of what I already do - both writing and teaching (the human spirit and the human mind, respectively).

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Sewer maintenance/ porta-john disposal – I did clean toilets for a year, and so I have some small insight into the hell of this profession – and that’s as close as I hope I ever have to get.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Plenty of room for everybody! After all, a good Hostess always plans for extra arrivals.”

If you want to answer the questions yourself, here’s an easy list to copy and paste:
1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on?
4. What turns you off?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to try?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Dear George (Clooney, that is)

Mr. G. Clooney
Beverly Hills, California

re: Recent Harrassment

June 4, 2007

Dear George,

Well, you won’t leave me alone, so I suppose I must break down and speak to you. Why you won’t let me sleep in peace I don’t know. What my offense has been remains a mystery to me, but since you will keep showing up in your dapper best and conversing with me over a cup of coffee deep in my REM cycle until all hours, I shall behave like the lady my mother tried (unsuccessfully) to raise, and grant you your interview.

I would like to point out here and now that I have no intention of this growing into a more intimate acquaintance. I am that kind of girl, but not with actors – in fact that’s number one on the list. This is no mere prejudice, but the informed voice of experience. High school drama club leaves its scars on us all. Of course dating didn’t stop there, and soon there were larger messes of mascara-stained tissues on the bureau.

After a summer split between the bohemian scenes of the University of Kansas and Disneyworld, I added poets and rock guitarists to the list – oh yes, and lead singers. Just one guy, but he was a doozy. And you know, a girl likely to date that kind of a beast seems to find herself quickly attracted to philosophers, marketing geniuses, social reformers, park rangers, carpenters, sculptors, chemists, swing dancers, cartoonists – well, the list is quite long now, suffice to say. Marriage had officially stopped the list from growing until our recent, unending chats. I hadn’t counted on you, George.

Regardless of the obvious temptations, I will not be throwing myself at you, so you can just forget about that now. Bill Clinton – leader of the free world eventually, but just in the running at the time – showed up in this same fuzzy, dreaming brain while you were no more than a fading, mulletted memory from “The Facts of Life.” Even in my most unguarded, unconscious dream state, Billy didn’t get anything but a warm smile, so you, the other Mr. C., can just keep your tuxedoed, perfect triangle-frame anchored.

Yes, I obviously have a thing for men in power, and no, it’s not going to get you anywhere. Whatever it is I find about you that’s erotic doesn’t seem to require us getting naked. Which is convenient, since I have a hard enough time facing the bathroom mirror at thirty-five, much less any ongoing nightmare visions of my bare, dimpled derrière in motion.

Now, on to the next order of business. My subconscious. What are you doing there? Do you intend to bring friends? Will I have to start considering caterers? What are we talking about? I can’t imagine anything that keeps you coming back at the rate you seem to consider appropriate. One dream would have been titillating. Two might have hinted at your continuing good taste. But month after month, night after night! Just when I think you’ve finally gone on to the starlets who love you so well…I innocently pass into Never Never Land – and must face you ONCE AGAIN – without make-up and before I’ve had a chance to clean the dishes.

What could we possibly have in common? After all, you have your millions, and I have my – dying potted plants. It really is just too damn hot to slog outside and water them all the time. I think the thyme committed suicide last week. Two days just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get as brown as it managed. You wouldn’t know, of course, since gardeners have been taking care of your lawns since you impersonated a lecherous doctor that women couldn’t resist on TV. (You know, they could be family men – the gardeners – who recoil at your wandering Romeo ways. Have you asked? Or better yet – have you noticed any suspicious decline in the health of your herbs?)

It certainly doesn’t leave us much to discuss. You get to have your fifty girlfriends at a time; I get one husband that I’m lucky to have fifty times a year. You wander the corridors of power with your buddies in the Democratic Party leadership; I’m beginning to recognize the homeless guys in Balboa Park by their preferred camping spots. You sparkle at your red carpet galas, receiving goodie bags stuffed with free digital cameras and personalized watches; I only seem to attend functions where earnest female friends try to sell me things I can’t afford or don’t need (I generally just cave and let them have another one at my house – for the swag. Should score the entire Anti-Cellulite Cream package at next week’s soiree).

Oh, George, where does all this leave us? You remain so silent on the subject of commitment, and yet you return faithfully to my dreams week after week, talking warmly of God-only-knows-what, allowing me to bask in the knowledge that it is I who truly stimulate your mind, your wit, your gleaming, white-toothed laugh. You even let me call you “Eyebrow.” Do you think I didn’t notice your recycled jokes as you dashed between reporter-ette bimbos at last year’s Oscars? They couldn’t know what I did – that “The Good German” was a good reason to sit in a theatre alone with my popcorn and you; black and white really does bring out your jawline something fierce. Did you feel you had to apologize for that? Did you stop believing that there really was intelligent life out there somewhere? Have you lost your faith that beauty and brains can still coexist? Is this why you haunt my make-believe kitchen table?

I suppose you’re like any man. We’ll continue to have these little chats, and then one day, you’ll expect me to read your mind, intuit your deepest dreams and drop everything to bask in your love – and needs. Well, George, I’m sorry. I can’t take the time. I’ve already got one man I have to worry about, and he’s fairly firm on his policy of No Visiting Sex Gods between the hours of one and five a.m. So unless you’re planning on divulging anything deeper than your secret to great skin (which really, I wouldn’t mind knowing), I think our relationship is at an impasse.

Still, a good coffee buddy shouldn’t be underrated – as long as you’re okay with decaf. I have got to get some sleep. Have I told you about these recurring dreams of mine?

Til the Restraining Order Comes Through,
Melanie (as if you didn’t know)