The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 31 — WATERLOO

Posted: August 18, 2013 in The NERVOUS STOMACH Series

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 31 — WATERLOO
Current mood: Heroicly sated
Category: Heroicly sated Life

Okay, I’m fifty-eight — the same age as Meryl when she filmed Mamma Mia.  I saw the play up in Toronto, and I really liked it, so I wonder if I am going to enjoy the film version.  But it’s a Thursday afternoon on my “staycation”, and it’s pouring gallons of buckets of cats and dogs with some water buffalos thrown in, just to make this screwy summer weather even screwier, so I hit the theater.  I pay the $7 matinee price…which was the price for seven movies when I qualified for “Under 13 pays $1”.  But everything is relative.  My mom tells me she used to go to the movies for a dime for the whole day.  Who knows, maybe $7 will seem like a bargain in a couple of more election cycles.

But I’m in my seat in the semi-darkness, and I’ve got my $12 worth of popcorn and soda.  I’m thinking about how I could maybe open a black-market popcorn and soda stand just outside the theater and quit my day job when the screen finally comes to life.  I survive the 15 minutes of commercials (wondering why my $7 admission didn’t exempt me from such fodder) and the music starts. 

Meryl and I are the same age, but I’m considering that she is freakin’ awesome playing a part that is twenty years too young for her and still pulling it off — jumping around the Greek inn, running along the dock, being a Dancing Queen.  The movie’s okay, but Meryl steals the show.  When she sings “The Winner Takes It All” to Pierce Brosnan on the steps of that gorgeous Greek island with the sunset in the background, pouring out her heart, I actually cry. 

The crying is why everything else happens. 

While the credits are rolling, I dab at my eyes with my buttery salty popcorn fingers.  The salt burns and I start to feel the sharp pain I get when something is under my contact.  For those who don’t wear contacts, it’s somewhere between having your cornea peeled off with a pair of tweezers and dripping hydrochloric acid into your pupil.  Either way, my eye is burning and I stumble to the nearest bathroom. 

Through my salt haze, I don’t notice it’s the employee bathroom.  Or that it’s “Closed for Maintenance”.  I rush to the sink, yank out my contact, gush water into my palm, and thank God that I live in a spot on the globe that has hot and cold running water. 

With my contact seated firmly back on my eyeball, I heave a sigh of relief and turn away from the mirror.  And stare at the small circle of half-naked men and women sitting yoga style atop what appears to my non-trained, salt-free eyes, to be a pile of explosive materials.  It’s not conclusive, but the wires, strange liquid tanks, digital timer (there’s always a timer!) and slightly acrid smell clue me in.  Like something you would see on TV or in a movie.  Except it would be somebody like Matt Damon or Angelina Jolie confronting the bomb, not fifty-eight-year-old me. 

“We are the Children of America”, a guy wearing what might double for a loincloth in a Tarzan movie, says to me, as they all join hands and stare at me.  “This room is closed for maintenance.”

“I had something in my eye…” I offer, checking out the digital readout.  It says “93”.  I wonder briefly if it’s minutes or seconds, until it flips to “92” and then “91”. 


“We are protesting the effect of America’s entertainment industry on the world’s morals,” Tarzan continues, shifting on his explosive perch enough for me to see more of his business than I care too at the moment. 

“By blowing up the theater?” I say, my eyes darting to the hand dryer, the soap dispenser, the mirror.  There are NO weapons in reach. 

“Well, actually, more like the whole block,” he smiles, a crooked, toothy grin, that tells me his parents’ didn’t believe in corrective dental surgery. 

I look again at the timer, which now reads “68”.  I have a little over a minute to act.  But what can I do?  My boss keeps sending jobs to India; my knees hurt when I get out of bed each morning, even when I take my glucosomine; my DVR deleted three episodes of Monk without asking me.  Maybe the American way isn’t worth saving, I allow the defeatist thought to float by. 

Only for a moment.

Because then I think of Abba singing WATERLOO; I think of my spitz-husky, Cooper, waiting at home for his supper; and I think of Meryl, at fifty-eight, racing through that Greek town singing DANCING QUEEN loud enough to blow a computer speaker.  Pride, anger, and indignation rise in equal quantities in my chest.

“Hey, Children of America,” I shout.  They all turn my way, still holding hands.  “Just because we’ve put out some dogs like “X-Files: I Want to Believe” is no reason to give up on American entertainment.  We also put out “Sophie’s Choice”, “The Sound of Music”, and “Nine to Five”, thank you very much!”

“I like “The Sound of Music”,” one of the girls to his right pipes up.

“Shut up,” he barks at her.  He turns his focus to me, breaks from the circle, and approaches.  He’s taller standing up, and muscular enough to make me rethink my position.  “So you believe American values should continue to pervert the global culture?” he asks, flexing his biceps.  The crooked front teeth have kiwi seeds stuck in them, I note. 

The readout is now “41”.

“Well,” I say, easing toward the first stall, “it depends on your definition of perversion.  For me, blowing up a movie theater ranks pretty high up there.” 

  He kicks out at my crotch but I anticipate him.  With visions of Meryl storming the Greek citadel, I dive sideways and scream “LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME!”

I reach into the stall and yank the predictably loose toilet seat from the top of the john.  It comes off cleanly in my hand, forming a large horse-shoe shaped weapon.  I’m good at horseshoes. 

Tarzan rushes me.

“TAKE YOUR CHANCE BUT BELIEVE ME!” I holler, swinging the hard-plastic seat at his skull.  The resounding crack brings him to a hard stop on the cold tile floor. 

“‘CAUSE IT’S TRUE!  I LOVE AMERICA!” I shout, whipping the horseshoe-shaped seat at the bomb’s digital timer (Did I mention I’m good at horseshoes?) I briefly see the number 22 blink and disappear, as a small cloud of smoke drifts lazily toward the flourescent lights above.

“I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO!” I finish the song, screaming at the Children of America.  They stare at me and blink.  The conscious ones, anyway.

Later, I love that MEET THE PRESS starts a blog about my patriotism; I love that OLDER AMERICAN features me in their “Fifty and Fit” anthology; I even love that Hollywood Boulevard dedicates a star to me — dubbing me “The Heart of American Entertainment”. 

But it’s the invite to a one-on-one evening with Meryl Streep in her own home –“Bring Cooper along!” she says, laughing that sweet, throaty laugh — that makes me feel truly heroic. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.



Currently   listening :
  Release date: 2001-07-02     

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