Monday, September 26, 2011

Death, diet coke and Jennifer Aniston

"Mum, it says 14-plus and we're twelve and you let me watch Frasier and Friends and Seinfeld and even Michael McIntyre so if you come with us too it'll be OK."

I was cornered. Sapphire has a way of chatting with her best mate Nafeesa via skype and they make plans that are foolproof. The venue's decided, the activity, the time, the pick-up and drop-off points are very well thought out and neither Nafeesa 's mum or I can claim that it doesn't fit in with our plans because the sneaky little gumnuts have already factored that into their equation.

“Alright then. Where am I supposed to be and at what time for the two of you?”

They wanted to see ‘Horrible Bosses’ featuring Jennifer Aniston in the ensemble cast. “It looks like a rom-com,” Sapphire assured me.

Considering that rom-com is usually her stock-in-trade and that I haven’t paid attention to what’s been playing in Swiss cinemas here for the past four months, it seemed like a reasonable assumption.

Nafeesa looked slightly puzzled when I crammed in three cans of Coke Zero and a trio of home-brand Snickers bars into my handbag. “We Locketts don’t pay quadruple price for our movie munchies.” (Sapphire’s already twigged that she’s one of the poor kids at her school, especially when a classmate apologised for not submitting their homework because he was busy helping his parents look at and buy a chalet. Their third).

Thirty minutes in and it was clear that ‘Horrible Bosses’ was a hybrid of The Hangover and American Pie and both girls were squirming in their seats. It was sadly becoming my understanding that ‘Fourteen plus’ in Geneva was upper level 18+ R in Australia.

I can handle the odd swear word but peppering each sentence with a sour sprinkling of MoFos and Constables was making things unnecessary ugly and sucking any semblance of wit or humour out of the experience. Seeing Ms Aniston proudly brandish some rather pornographic photos of her raping a knocked-out dental hygienist had me covering my eyes with my fingers and sliding down into the three day old pile of popcorn at my feet until I realised that I was the parent.

Me. Was it time to form a cat’s bum mouth of disapproval and pull the plug? Were the girls old enough for this nasty smut? Was I a thousand years old and the sole source of cultural ignorance and embarrassment? Was I selfish in wanting my baby girl to stay innocent a bit longer and not be bludgeoned with obscenities, even though most of the words would have been in common usage at her school? Diet coke spilled out of the can and dribbled down my leg in despair.

I felt a tiny tap on my knee. “Mum, if you want us to leave now, we can, you know,” Sapphire mouthed at me in the dark, her face illuminated by the so-called hilarious Serial Killer outside the bar scene.

“Yep. Let’s go. Nafeesa? Nafeesa sweetie, this just isn’t appropriate for you guys, so we have to leave.”

Sapphire put up a mildly believable act of being disappointed to save face in front of her friend who said, “If I was at home, at least my Mum could fast forward some of it.”

They walked back to our house together as I hung back to phone Nafeesa’s mother to explain. “That’s fine, I’ll come by and pick her up now if you like because my meeting has just finished.”

Yasmin’s car had pulled up in front of our building as we were nearing the side gate.

Ka-thonk! A cat had run out of our garden and was hit by a car. My eyes were on the writhing animal and not the license plate of the driver who clearly felt the impact but not the need to stop and care just a little.

The girls stopped in their tracks, horrified. The cat’s front legs were still moving in a slow pedalling motion as it lay dying on its side. “Is it still alive?”


Nafeesa covered her face and walked, crablike to her mother’s car. “She’s got her pet cat at home, Mum,” Sapphire reminded me. Ah yes, Valencia, which ironically means strong and healthy. Lost nearly all feeling in her back legs due to being squashed in the driveway and wore tiny nappies for three months during her recovery. A little sweetie though.

Snapping out of my reverie I realised that it was the first time that I’d ever seen anything larger than a fish die before. The cat was a fetching mixture of ginger, grey and white and I’d seen it many times in our gardens sunning itself by the lavender or cooling off in the undergrowth. Blood was seeping from the ears and its mouth was mangled. Poor little thing.

Yasmin called over to me and I leaned into the window of her car to explain my decision to leave the movie. “Seeing Colin Farrell’s face mashed up against a window in a drug-fuelled orgy might have been a bit over the top, let alone Jennifer Aniston insisting that she needed a good hard Eff from her blackmailed assistant...”

A young man pulled into the kerb on his scooter, fished a newspaper out of his backpack and very gently scooped the cat off th
e road.

Turning my back on Yasmin, I rushed over. “Oh I’m so sorry – is this your cat?”

“No. I work at the embassy over there,” he waved in the general direction, “but I saw what happened and I can’t leave it there on the road to be hit again and again.”

Nafeesa overheard this and buried her head in her mother’s shoulder.

I walked back in what I hoped was a confident swagger and patted the car door, trying to be cheerful. “Ah well, we’ll try for a better night out next time.”

Much later Sapphire sighed as we stood together in the lift, tired from asking people entering and leaving our building if they were missing a cat. “So that I didn’t have to keep blaming you all the time for being such an old fuddy duddy and making us leave the cinema, as we were walking home I tried to change the subject.”

“That seems like a good idea----“

“Yeah well I stuffed it up because I asked her what I should get Dad for his birthday and then she got all quiet and sad before my brain worked out that her father died of cancer three years ago.”

“Ah. It happens sometimes. Remember when I said to Jacqui that only Sad old Slappers wear anklets and then looked down to see that she had one on?”

She smiled and bent slightly downwards to lean into my chest. My arm automatically wrapped around her. Only three inches to go and we’ll be shoulder-to-shoulder.

The doors creaked open at the eighth floor. “I blame Jennifer Aniston for ALL of this. Let’s watch some Wallace and Gromit to cleanse our eyes and give Milly a cuddle. Maybe your father too, if he plays his cards right.”

Geneva is the world's centre for uber-quality watch making, clock design and fine-tuned precision. I wonder if I can ask them to slow down time just a little bit.


Daniel said...

For future reference, a quick check of IMDB (especially the parents guide, and also the list of certification ratings) might be wise!

Andrew said...

In the so called good old days, babies were pumped out with regularity. Parents could not care for them as one is now cared for. I am sure you have brought yours up to be resilient. But having such close contact with my four year old niece since she was born has given me quite a perspective on life. What if something happened to her? At least four lives would be destroyed I expect. And how did this dependant little baby turn into an eloquent and challenging four year old? Lordy, wait until yours is sixteen and has a boy (I should add, or girl, here, but I shan't) she sees. Then we need to remind us that kids have been growing up for thousands of years and mostly it all works out ok.

Pandora Behr said...

Superb, wonderfully drawn post. Sorry you had to see that awful business with the cat.

Also, normally tells things as they are, the good, the bad and the don't go there.

Seriously wonderful post.

foodieK said...

oh dear, what a disaster....
I remember turning up at a friend's place to see her 8 year old twins watching saturday night fever. shocked, I asked if she was sure that was appropriate..'oh yeah, they love musicals', she replied. I had to remind her about the rape, the suicude......

Kath Lockett said...

Er yes Daniel, you are quite right. I should never assume anything and now that we're in the non-Disney but not-yet-American-Pie phase of Sapphire's viewing development I'll be a lot more careful!

Andrew I find myself nodding at everything you're writing but know that the worry and the advice and the nagging and the uncertainty lasts forever. At least that's what my 70 year old father tells me.

Thanks Pandora. I've been meeting a lot of cats lately and doing my best to make the most of them (esp if Milly's not around).

foodieK that's right - it's NOT a 'dance movie' for kids, is it? Then again, at the end of Grease not only does Rizzo casually announce that she's not pregnant but ONJ turns up dressed as a smoking slut as *the way* to sort things out! Not the greatest message ever.....

Hannah said...

"The cheese, Gromit! We forgot the cheese!"

Such, such, such the better option. Although we complained as kids, I'm so glad my mum was incredibly strict with what we were allowed to watch growing up. In fact, I remember a book once being taken off me at around age 11, because mum knew there was a phone sex scene in it. Funny thing was, I kicked up a fuss even though I hadn't been enjoying it anyway.

I'm so sorry about the cat, and about the inappropriateness of the stupid movie. I'm 24, and there's no way I'm interested in seeing that. Give me Broadway musicals and light-hearted happiness anyday. I'm so sick of the sexualisation of every-bloody-thing in this world, including this seemingly-new idea that "female empowerment" is women being allowed to be as crass as men have been.

Okay, rant over ;)

Lidian said...

You did all the right things. I would have left too. And good for Sapphire for suggesting it - my girls would have done that, too.

Wallace and Gromit is wonderful - we just watched "The Wrong Trousers" about a week ago on our ancient VCR. Oh, and "A Grand Day Out" as well. A fine antidote to Jennifer Aniston, I think.

Kath Lockett said...

Hannah I agree. I think that 'gross out' comedies aren't doing anything to empower women and even though Jennifer Aniston probably had a great time filming it and trying to put the ghost of Rachel to bed, it was horrible to watch. Should have been called Horrible Movie, not Horrible Bosses.

The Wrong Trousers is our favourite episode too and we love the movie 'The curse of the Were-Rabbit' as well.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kath,

Oh dear. Poor cat (better not let Mrs PM read this post).

As for the film - I have two lads and I cringe whenever I watch a film with my eldest and it contains either swearing or Megan Fox draped over a Harley - even though he is 18!! And the swearing too ...

It must be a parent thing.




The Elephant's Child said...

Wonderful post. So hard for you with a child caught between txixt and tween. Though that movie sounds like a permanent no go zone. And I love you taking sustenance to the movies. Their prices are apppalling.

Jayne said...

Yay for Sapphire, you dragged her up prpoper :)
The Feral Teen still regulates his viewing to our approval and changes tv channels if something iffy pops up (I won't share his view of Mz Aniston *snort*).
The movie Zookeeper looks like a winner for our kids!
Poor pusskin, at least it was scooped up.

Vanessa said...

My 12 year old is in a friendship group of 6 girls at school and one of them suggested this movie. I had to email everyone's Mum my thoughts that it was inappropriate, and I hadn't even met all the Mums yet. It is tricky but they were all great and the girls went to see Red Dog and loved it.

Kath Lockett said...

PlasMan - if Mrs PM had been there, I'm sure that she'd have joined us in trying to organise a posse (to find a car we didn't notice the make, colour, model or licence plate of) and possibly more than just a 'resting place' on old newspapers....

E-Child, it infuriates me how expensive cinema food is and how stupidly huge the sizes are. I've been with a mate (hello CG) who once ate an egg sandwich inside!

Very wise move, Vanessa. I wonder if Red Dog will make it here? Then again, it'll have to be 'VO' (version originale) or it'll be in French!

River said...

You haven't got a hope in hell of slowing down time, but maybe you could add film reviews and research (IMDb) to your list of things to do so that Sapphire doesn't get shocked into adulthood quite so quickly.
Sad about the cat.

Kath Lockett said...

IMDB is a good idea, River. Stopping time is just wishful thinking: I still have the occasional dream about her when she was a baby though so that's as close to stopping time as I'm going to get.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Don't ever apologise for having good taste. And no one has to put up with badly made, ill-conceived, witless, plotless c**p to 'prove' they're not a prude!

Kath Lockett said...

RedNomad, according to Sapphire, I'm more 'rude' than 'prude' !

Elisabeth said...

Wonderful post, Kath, so poignant and powerful and full of the stuff of life : sex death and then the more prosaic but definitely preferred ordinariness of life, and the business of trying to keep our children safe.

25BAR said...

Movies don't seem to be child friendly anymore. And kids these days don't enjoy the movies kids twenty years ago used to enjoy.
The times, they are a'changing! In fact changed already!

Kath Lockett said...

Thank you Elisabeth. I'm in awe of your writing and points of view, so this has made my day!

25BAR you might be relieved to hear that Sapph still loves Wallace and Gromit, who first appeared around 25 years ago.

Marshall Stacks said...

I was gonna say what Daniel said at #1 Parents Movies Guide ... and I skipped the sad animal part of your post.

Marshall Stacks said...

re parent movie guides - This link is excellent, and not just for the 11 year old who says it's the best movie he has ever seen
x x

franzy said...

I remember putting similar amounts of thought and planning in to a scheme to go to Terminator 2 with a mate when I was 12.


No dead cats there, though. We had a bitchin' time and we still talk about it! Bad role model!

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks for the link, Marshall. It's now bookmarked and will be referred to. A lot.

Franzy, I'd rather she watch the Terminator than Horrible Bosses - far less obscenities, a story that's engrossing and the violence is the so-out-there-it's-entertainment kind.