Trendysomething in SoMo
Are film festivals the new online dating?
Would it be redundant to say that I love CultureMap? Even for the conspicuously clued in, it’s a great resource to find out about that slightly under-the-radar destination or event. Case in point: Saturday afternoon, after waking up mysteriously clutching a corkscrew, I roll over in my bed to find my shiny laptop waiting to entertain me (not like that). As the CultureMap homepage loads, my eyes are immediately directed to listing #1: “Being Jewish in France.”
Is this a free trip to go… be Jewish in France? Can I manipulate my vague affiliation with the Web site and religion to rig the contest in my favor? No, even better — it’s a mentioning of that day’s premiere of a documentary of the same name at the MFAH. I text the 'rents to see if they are interested in attending. As a twenty-something, it’s a good idea to invite parents to cultural events because they think you’re inclusive and clueing them in on “what’s cool.” I assume such gestures will eventually garner enough points to earn a cell phone upgrade or a vintage Vespa.
However, they are out of pocket, and all for the better since I quickly realize what a prize opportunity this is: film festival, heebs, art museum, France—all the perfect ingredients to meet a nice Jewish boy. Under the impression that the afternoon would play out like a sequel to Kissing Jessica Stein, I walk into the Mies-ian Brown Auditorium and am overcome by the pungent aroma of Estée Lauder fragrance and swarms of geriatric women. I am further stunned by an arm waving frantically in the front row, and I notice that it is my eldest sister, inviting me to join her and her husband. So much for getting my game on at the film fest—or so I thought.
After a brief conversation about their Bellaire house-hunt, the lights dim and we settle in for a couple of hours of fairly disturbing footage and commentary. When intermission arrives, I prepare to bolt so that I can scamper to the closing line at Spec’s, but out of nowhere I hear a girl cry out from the aisle, “Steven? Is that Steven Thomson?”
Brushing a bit of dirt off my shoulder, I explain to my sister how this happens all the time since the launch of Trendysomething in SoMo (it’s never happened), and turn to the sight of my childhood babysitter; let's call her "Kaylie." Although she’s a mere five or six years older than me, that means a lot when you’re 10 years old and the other is 16. I have fond memories of her clipping my fingernails while we watched Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and listening to Jewel and Dave Matthews Band in her Corolla as she drove me to school. Nevertheless, I was not necessarily in the mood to schmooze.
“I barely recognize you—you’re all grown up!” she announces, galloping into my row for what I fear could turn into a full-blown catch-up session. I move my jacket from my lap to the spare seat next to me, so as to discourage any problematic lingering. But of course, she perches on the armrest between the two seats, placing us eye to eye in a very unfamiliar way.
She launches into a long debriefing of everything she’s been up to since we parted ways at her high school graduation. I enter auto smile-and-nod mode as she details teaching English in Israel and a recent breakup. As if she telepathically understands my disinterest, she arrests me in a brutal eyelock the entire time. I don’t snap out of her eyelash-batting hypnosis until I notice her barely caressing my forearm as she invites me to visit her new studio in the Heights and “unscrew a bottle of Manischewitz sometime."
Realizing that my childhood babysitter is trying to pick me up, I wrangle my arm around my sister’s neck.
“Kaylie, I want to introduce you to someone.”
“You didn’t tell me you were already dating somebody!” Kaylie squeals, hitting her hand on the armrest, causing her Tiffany charm bracelet to create a rattling echo in the theatre. “I’m mortified!”
I explain that I am actually with my sister, not a girlfriend, but for some reason, I don’t know how else to really put the facts on the table. Misinterpreting that I might still be up for grabs, Kaylie begins to ask me more about my present life.
“I write self-referential columns,” I reply, hoping she might pick up on my Carrie Bradshaw quote. She does not, but I do notice her again beginning to caress my arm. My automatic reaction takes the form of a jolting movement that might best be described as clocking somebody in the face, best demonstrated in Episodes Four and Six of Jersey Shore.
I am at a total loss. Kaylie just sits there, holding her face as apologies spill from my mouth. But then, I can’t help but think: here is a grown woman—a borderline puma even—hitting on her former surrogate son.
“What kind of guy bitch-slaps a girl?” she shrieks, alarming the whole auditorium. I feel the watchful gaze of a room full of judgmental mothers descend on my seat. Then comes the anticipated slinger: “Do you have any idea how much this nose cost?!”
I’m not sure which is worse, the fact that she made such a statement, or that indeed, I do recall two instances of Kaylie being out of commission due to surgery on her “deviated septum.” I grab my belongings, stand up and reply, “Kaylie, you must not know 'bout me.”
So the Fresh Prince of SoMo didn’t meet his Francophile Jewish American Prince. I still saw a quality documentary, established a certain degree of closure with a former caretaker, and on top of that, got to use my museum member discount. But I have a feeling things will be looking up—my birthday’s next month, and if I'm going to be following in the footsteps of my older siblings, I just know that mom’s gotten me a gift membership to JDate.