The Mob and the Blob

"The Godfather," image taken from ottobruno.org

It’s been a big week in our house. Not just because we graduated from hypnobirthing, had our infant CPR class and welcomed the first of the three grandmothers flocking like fairy godmothers to Florida to await the birth of the baby Amalía (we’re ready when you are, kid). But also because one of our cable channels was having Mob Week, one of the few televised occurrences my husband and I have enjoyed on watching together in our one-TV-set household.

We both love Parks and Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock, and the Daily Show. But those programs are on hiatus for the summer, so we are left with a void in which he veers towards a sporting event, and then, inexplicably, wants to watch portly former athletes describe what just took place EVEN THOUGH WE ALL JUST SAW IT HAPPEN, while I veer towards the girliest of reality TV. I know I should not be exposing our baby to the Real Housewives and their petty vendettas and materialistic concerns, even in utero. But, aside from the moments when I have to change the channel because I’m so embarrassed for the ladies, I have to admit that the shows have the same effect on me that the hypnobirthing CD we listen to nightly does–lulling me into a relaxation so deep I often fall asleep immediately.

In this last month of my pregnancy, I discovered that on weekends The Learning Channel broadcasts back-to-back episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, a reality show that involves following consultants at a bridal store either in Manhattan or Atlanta as they help brides and bridesmaids find the perfect dress. I had seen the show once or twice in my pre-pregnant state and thought it was fine if one needed entertainment while ironing or something, but now, reader, I could watch it for hours on end if allowed. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it reminds me how much I loved my own wedding dress. Maybe because finding a dress, while it seems like a huge big deal at the time, is a way less intimidating endeavor than having and raising a child. Maybe because dresses are either pretty or hideous, and both options thrill me.

My husband doesn’t get it, except perhaps from an anthropological viewpoint. He was shocked to find bridesmaids usually pay for their own, heinous dresses, something he learned from the show. But after seeing one episode he turned to me and said, “This is what the aftermath of a sporting event feels like for you, right?” Nevertheless he is totally on board with my brilliant idea for a third version of the show, “Say Jes to the Dress: Coral Gables,” as his office is on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, FLA, where brides from all over Latin America flock to buy their gowns. If they ever filmed that show, I’d watch it until my eyes burned.

Me saying Jes to the dress at the Bridal Garden (I ordered the veil on Etsy.com)

My BFF in New York suggested that Say Yes to the Dress acts like missing limb syndrome, when amputees feel an itch in body parts they no longer have–that there was a time in my life when I was so worried about finding a dress that it has stayed with me and I watch it to relate to these women going through the same thing. But the truth is, there was no fancy bridal store when I found my beloved gown. I took my mom to the Bridal Garden in New York, which sells dresses off the rack which have been donated by designers or worn by brides and donates the proceeds to a charter school in Bedford Stuyvesant. There’s a lady who does alterations, but no consultants to advise you. You roam the racks and go into the dressing room and try on; I found and bought my dress in an hour and a half, no drama, no tsuris.

So I can’t explain why I’m bewitched by the show, but the bottom line is, there are few programs my husband and I enjoy together come August weekends, when it’s so hot and rainy in Miami Beach that there are long stretches of time we stay in our apartment. But then, this weekend, we were blessed with The Godfather, followed by Good Fellas. My husband was in heaven, and I was pretty intrigued too, which is harder to explain. I loved the costumes and the accents, but I’ve had an aversion to violence all through my pregnancy and in fact made my husband turn off Shark Week on the Discovery Channel because the image of sharks tearing apart seal carcasses made me want to vomit. But with the mob movies, the gore all seemed far away and mythical, like the violence of the gods of Olympus, so the carnage didn’t bother me much. Sure, Fredo broke my heart, and I couldn’t help but notice that there’s not one strong female character in The Godfather (Kay–so whiny and self-righteous! Connie–such a spoiled princess! Mrs. Godmother–a cypher!). But in the end, I was a made woman. Unlike the shark carnage, the mob movies left me with no violent flashbacks, just a lingering desire to talk like Marlon Brando, telling my husband things like this: “Remember to let the hospital staff know we’re breastfeeding the baby, so no bottles or pacificiers to avoid nipple confusion. But if someone slips and gives Amalía a bottle, I want no inquiries made, no acts of vengeance.”

Ultimately, mob week was a happy diversion from all things childbearing (although I did tear up when the godfather tells his youngest son, “I never wanted this for you.”). For the past two weeks, despite the soothing hypnobirthing cds, my dreams have centered on me having to lead a group of relatives through a foreign country or me remembering I have a paper due the next day which I have yet to start: obviously, due dates and responsibility for others are weighing on my mind. So thank you, fictional gentlemen of the mob. This thing of ours has amused me. I will not forget my debt to you.

The less happy development of mob week is that it’s also been blob week, when my face swelled up (even I, with my tendency for oversharing, will not be posting a photo of that), and I crossed the line from being venerated for my pregnancy to being heckled for it. On the fourth of July, a homeless man told me I looked gorgeous. This weekend, a different homeless man yelled out, “That girl’s got twins, know what I mean?” and burst out laughing.

Later that same day, a Spanish-speaking man with a snooty accent passed me and told his female companions something that made them stare at me and giggle. All I could hear him say was the word “pelota” which means ball, as in, “That woman looks like she swallowed a beach ball.” The irony is, he looked like he’d ingested a soccer ball himself. It was not very nice. And yet…I want no inquiries made, no acts of vengeance. This war stops now.

 

Comments

  1. Robin Paulson says:

    Okay, I’ll fess up, Say Yes to the Dress is my guilty pleasure, and I’m not even pregnant. Am I drawn to it because I never went through the process depicted in the show? After all, when you walk into a wedding dress boutique in Beverly Hills and they say, “Something for the mother of the bride?” it’s pretty humiliating. Is it because I was so wedding ignorant that I didn’t know you were supposed to make an appointment and bring an entourage with you to share your special day? Not really. It’s mostly because I am completely fascinated by the brides that are so emotionally invested in being a princess for 8 brief hours. They are willing to put their family into financial ruin. They crave the feeling of “this is the one!” They blindly view themselves in strapless atrocities a Barbie Doll would reject and burst into tears of joy. Oh, how I wish I were ever that childlike. Maybe that’s why I became a ballet dancer and actress. I got to wear the costume and be in the spotlight, but I knew it was only theater, not life.

  2. I love the idea of Barbie turning up her turned-up nose at a dress. It makes me long for a Say Yes to the Dress marathon right now…

  3. I don’t think we get Say Yes To The Dress over here in England, but if we did, I’d be watching. I rarely watch TV, but when I do, it’s always stuff like that. I love Here Comes The Bride too – pure TV trash but strangely compelling. I wonder if it’s because I didn’t have the traditional wedding preparations? We got married in the Caribbean, just the two of us, with no guests. My dress was simple and easy to pack! I often wonder if we should ‘get married’ again – just so I can get a fancy dress. I love the dress that Kate Moss wore when she got married last month.

  4. Dear Eleni, Wonderful Godfather movie analogy! lol I’m watching for the baby arrival blog post. Best wishes to all of you from Julie

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