Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trailer Trash

What is the right age to allow a child to see an image of a guy about to kiss a guy on the mouth?  According to Hollywood it’s the age of any kid sitting in a theater, popcorn in hand, waiting to see the PG rated P.T. Barnum musical biopic, The Greatest Showman.  There is no guy-on-guy kiss in The Greatest Showman.  The trailer for Love, Simon, which runs prior to the film, is the problem, assuming you’re a parent not interested in exposing your little kid to a coming-out story.

Love, Simon looks to be a tender, funny, well-crafted story, but it’s a story about a gay young man coming to terms with his sexuality.  This is not the stuff of picture books, or at least the kind that kids clamor for.  At seven, a kid’s sexual urge is zero, and, in my opinion, only dirt bags introduce sex, and sex-related topics, to seven-year olds.

Childhood should be consumed with earning a star at school for good behavior, building forts, playing Mario Kart, making booger walls, dancing like a maniac at weddings, running down hills, and playing ball. 

Their minds should be free to focus on the simple.

And to those who say sexual orientation is a simple subject, I say, you gotta be smoking crank.  That is about as adult a subject as it gets.  So, when I take my kid to see a movie that at its sexiest wouldn’t make a nun blush, I should think, I’ve done my parental due diligence, but you’ve always got to remember that Hollywood is not concerned about kids (just ask Corey Feldman.)

Their one concern is selling tickets, and if that means pitching a PG-13 movie to a PG audience they’re going to do it.  As parents, we are the gatekeepers for our kids.  We decide what goes in our kids’ bodies (immunize or not) and we decide what goes in their minds, which is why the Love, Simon trailer annoyed me so much.  It felt like a cheap shot.  I paid to see a wholesome movie about the birth of the circus, and they threw an image of a guy about to kiss another guy.  Having said this, go see The Greatest Showman!  It was amazing.  Just know, if you arrive in time for the trailers, what your little kids are going to see.  Just giving you a heads up.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Disney, The Hype-iest Place On Earth

Recently, Julianne Hough shouted to an adoring audience, “We’re at Disney, and it’s impossible not to be happy when you’re here!”  Uh… I beg to differ.  Not only is it possible to not be happy at Disney, with long wait times, and frankfurters costing north of five bucks, it’s practically guaranteed.  Is Disney fun?  Of course.  For me, it’s especially fun when I haven’t been back for a while, allowing anticipation for all that awaits to build—the topiaries shaped like talking rodents, Main Street pulsing with activity, Cinderella’s castle rising in the distance, the whoosh of Space Mountain, the spray of water in my face as I fall over the edge of Splash Mountain, the princesses willing to say hello to everyone, at least until it’s time for their state-sanctioned potty break.

The longer I’m away from Walt’s wonderful world, the more I buy into the Disney’s ads, and the picture they paint that a day at D World will be a day filled with happiness, thrills, and more thrills.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve waited in line before at Disney for over an hour for the chance to fly (sitting down) with Peter Pan over London.  Such memories fade in the pixie dust sparkles created by the Disney hype machine, so much so, that I’ve been known to take an it’s-every-man-for-himself approach to catching the monorail, practically waving good bye to my children as a friendly voice booms, Please, stand clear of the doorway!

Dodging and sprinting, I’ve elbowed my way to the entrance, excitement stirring to a froth inside me.  Yes, the park looks packed, but it always looks packed, I tell myself.  Maybe today we’ll get lucky and it won’t be PACKED packed.  But as I follow the crush of humanity past the new-fangled entrance (what happened to the turnstiles?) and shuffle toward Main Street, my insides begin to make that wah-wah-wah sound heard on game shows when someone loses big.  Today is going to be PACKED packed.

The Scrooge McDuck in me refuses to turn back.  I’ve spent A LOT of money to get inside, and so, even if it kills me, I’m going to get in there and get happy!  And so, I proceed, elbowing my way past half of England (the half with baby strollers) and get in line for It’s A Small World, because it’s the only ride with a reasonable wait time.  At last, we climb aboard the ride’s little boat (aka U.S.S. Straightjacket ) and begin to drift forward.

As I watch robotic children sing and dance about world peace, a thought occurs to me:  If that friendly voice that cautioned me about the Monorail’s doorway had really been concerned for my safety he would have said, Hold up!  Unless your idea of fun is standing in line at the Post Office six days before Christmas, turn back while you can.  Will you have snippets of fun in there?  Yes, but it’s also likely you’ll have a meltdown.  Or your kid will.  Meltdowns happen all the time in the Magic Kingdom, though you’ll never see one in our ad campaigns.   And, by the way, Disney is not the happiest place on earth.  That’s IKEA.  I’m joking.  Happiness is a state of mind, not a place, which, honestly, you should know already.  If you head to the entrance, understand it’s going to be a long, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating day.  Consider yourself warned.

But would I have listened to this brutal honesty?  Would I have turned back?  Probably not.  Why?  Because, despite the hassles, Disney is fun.  And besides, if It’s A Small World is slammed, we can hit The Tiki Room.  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The McKendrick Christmas Interview

With nothing but time on their hands, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose recently agreed to interview me for our not-so annual Christmas letter.  Actually, they didn’t agree to interview me, but if they had, I think the interview would have gone something like this:

Charlie:  Hello, Mrs. McKendrick, you’re looking dignified today.

Me:  Thank you, Mr. Rose.

Matt:  Do you always wear graduation robes to an interview?

Me:  No, just wanted to make sure I didn’t dress too provocatively for the two of you.

Charlie:  How thoughtful.

Matt:  Mission accomplished, but to be fair, even if you’d come to this interview in a bikini, it wouldn’t have been a problem.  You’re as old as my grandmother.

Me:  I’m as old as your wife.

Matt:  But you see where I’m going with that.  At any rate, it’s nice to see you today.  And, apparently, you’ve written some books I’ve never heard about.

Me:  Yes, it’s sort of a smaller market.  I write clean romance for the—

Matt:  I’m going to have to stop you right there.

Me:  Excuse me?

Matt:  I have no interest in hearing about clean romance.

Me:  Which, to be honest, isn’t much of a surprise.

Matt:  Touché

Me:  Can I at least mention the title of my latest book?

Matt:  Just the title, or I swear I’ll have to walk into traffic.

Me:  Okay then, the title is, Brush With Love.

Matt:  Sounds nauseating.  No truly, I strive for truth in journalism, and I gotta say, the title makes me feel like I’m dying a little inside.

Me:  Should we switch to a different subject then?

Matt:  Good idea, so you have SEVEN children.

Me:  That’s right.

Matt:  Please tell me you had the good sense to send them all to Switzerland for boarding school.

Me:  No, they all grew up at home.

[Hits himself in the head with his clipboard a few times]

Me:  Are you okay?

Matt:  I’m fine.  I was hoping I was in a terribly boring dream, and just needed to wake up.  So, any way, you’ve got seven kids.

Me: That’s right, well, nine now, because two of our daughters have married.

Matt:  What!

Charlie:  Excuse me, but am I going to be able to ask any of the questions?

[He turns to Charlie] Matt:  What do you care?  She’s an incredibly boring person.  There’s nothing to ask.  But, back to you having two daughters that are already married, they must have been incredibly young when they tied the knot.

Me:  The younger one, Caroline, was twenty when she got married.

Matt:  Which proves my point.

Me:  What’s your point?

Matt:  That Mormons are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.  Who would let their daughter marry at such a young age?

Me:  She found a great guy.  It was the right choice for her.  Both of my girls chose great guys.  We’re happy to have them in the family.

Matt:  I’m sure you are.  You seem to have a thing about hoarding people.

Charlie:  If I may, I’d like to ask Mrs. McKendrick a few questions.

[Tosses a hand in the air] Matt:  Why not ask her about her twenty-eight year marriage to that guy she met her freshman year of college.  That ought to be a snore fest.  I could use a nap.

Charlie:  Actually, I wanted to ask her about this last year.  How did it go?

Me:  Fine, I suppose.  Our daughter, Victoria—

[Snorts with laughter] Matt:  Is she married too?

Me:  Take a nap, Matt.  Actually, no.  She’s currently serving a mission for our church in the Philippines
Charlie:  And how has she adjusted to life there?

Me:  She’s doing well.  She’s amazed by how beautiful it is there, and she says the people are fantastic.  She always has a funny story to share about her week, and she is loving having the opportunity to teach the people in Cebu about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Charlie:  Any other highlights from this year for the McKendricks?

Me:  We’ve just been plugging along.  Rich enjoys serving as bishop of our ward, and working as a family law attorney.  Sam’s at BYU, studying and snowboarding, Julia and Paul are killing it in Idaho, putting down roots and living life; Caroline and Stephen are doing the same in Southern California.

Matt:  Southern California.  That’s about the only interesting thing you’ve said in the last five minutes.

[I give Matt the stink eye; he winks backs, nonplussed.]  Me:  Charlotte and Scarlett are dancing, and Peter is tearing up the mountain biking trails with his dad.  It’s been a good year, and we’re grateful for the chance it gave us to make a few trips out west to see family, enjoy some time at the beach, and serve and be served after Hurricane Irma.

Matt:  Speaking of disasters, we should probably cut this interview short.

Me:  Can I say one more thing?

Matt: No, it’s literally like your breath is chloroform. 

Charlie:  She’s our only interview for the day.  Let her speak.

[Huffs] Matt: Fine.

Me:  I wanted to say Merry Christmas to all our friends and family out there, the ones we see regularly and the ones we usually just see through social media.  May this season bring you peace and joy!  We love you, and hope to see you all in 2018!

Matt:  I should let you know the sappy police called; they have a warrant for your arrest.  Just to be clear, are you sure something more sensational didn’t happen in 2017?  Is it possible you dined at the naked restaurant in London, but forgot to mention it?

Charlie:  Good question, Matt.

[taking off the mic] Me:  No, nothing like that.  Merry Christmas, everyone!  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Downside To Love and Devotion

If you’re someone I care about, chances are good that I’ve written your eulogy in my head.  More than twenty minutes late, driving through a snow storm, choosing to fly Frontier—it’s all been reason enough for me, with a lump in my throat, to prepare your final tribute.  I’ve never taken a survey, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one out there creating a mental Rolodex of sad speeches, because we all live with the reality that this life is fragile, and that one day we’ll say good-bye to those we love.  More to the point, one day we’ll say good-bye to the one we love.

Finding love, that person you most want to Netflix and chill with, is a wonderful thing, and if you’ve just found it, let me just say, Hooray!  You two are beyond adorable together!  It’s so annoying!  And yet it’s so sweet.  But seriously, Congratulations!  No more awkward dates, no more third-wheeling it, no more telling your cat about your day, because now you have each other.  I’m sure you’ve already noticed how love can turn a simple task, like grocery shopping, into time spent together.  Doing price comparisons and tossing stuff in a cart is better when you're with the one you love.

As love deepens, I think you’ll find that days slip into weeks and then to years in a happy blur.  The neck of time’s hourglass seems to fatten, permitting the grains of sand to tumble almost unobstructed to the bottom.  Where did twenty years go? you’ll ask yourself.  Where did thirty?  How is it possible we’re no longer young?  The ticking of the clock, rather than just an irritating sound you can’t filter, becomes the enemy.  One day you’ll have to say good bye to each other.  Your faith tells you this good bye is temporary, but parting will still be a tearing apart, a crumbling, falling to your knees. 

If we’ve loved deeply, the downside is that devastation will be ours at good-bye.  Yet, how much sadder it would be if we weren’t devastated, if we had never loved like that.  So, love, truly, madly, sweetly, letting that love bless your life with happiness and fulfillment.  Make the most of this time you have together, before good-bye.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Upside To Infidelity

As Matt Lauer can tell you, nothing clears your schedule like sexual misconduct. 

While the rest of us were learning about Matt Lauer’s lewd, and possibly criminal, behavior, Matt was probably telling himself to look on the bright side of things—now he could sleep in!  For the first time in twenty years, he could turn out the lights and wake up whenever.  Getting fired from the hottest morning news show tends to mean you don’t have to set your alarm.  And while getting fired for tossing your male member around at work like a Frisbee is humiliating, it does allow you to be first in line at the DMV, which is great, because then you can then get on with the rest of things you have scheduled during the day.  Oh wait, that’s right, you don’t have to do any of that stuff now because you’re fired.

If I could, I’d like to interview Matt.  Of course, I’d be careful not to bend forward so that he wouldn’t look down my shirt, and say, “Nice view,” and I’d be careful not to stand too close, so he didn’t pinch my rear.  Basically, I’d treat him like a circus lion, and brandishing a whip in one hand and a chair in the other, I’d ask him, Was it worth it?  Was all the pleasure you took in exploiting women worth the consequences you’re now forced to experience? 

A disturbing number of people behave as if their marital vows were, "Til Lunch Do Us Part", thus turning peers into potential conquests rather than associates.  Cheating, among other things, shifts the family schedule, making it necessary that, in addition to soccer practice and piano lessons, stony silence, unexplained absences, and violent outbursts need to be penciled in.  Oh, and whispers.  Let's not forget whispers.

Whispers from class mates suck.  I was eleven when I dove into the deep end of that ocean.  Over Christmas break I learned of my father’s infidelity and my parents’ plans to divorce, and when I returned to school, the whispers were there to greet me.  You know your life is in the toilet when even the bullies give you sympathetic looks. 

And so, in the midst of this mess Matt has made for himself, my thoughts turn to his kids.  He has a son who is eleven.  He's probably been pulled out of school for a day or two to avoid the whispers, but they'll be there when he returns, as is the near constant coverage of the allegations against his father when he turns on a device.

I’d like to tell his eleven-year old to hang in there, keep his chin up.  Yes, it hurts now, but the way things are looking, someone else’s father’s bad behavior is going to take the headlines soon enough, and, besides, those nights of crying yourself to sleep, and those days of feeling powerless and scared, that stuff’s character building.  And, looking on the bright side, your dad has said his new full-time job is searching his soul and repairing the damage he's done!  Sure, it would have been better if he had shown through his actions fidelity to your mother and an unwillingness to abuse the power connected to his high-paying job.  But hey, we can't all be Atticus Finch, and if soul searching is your dad's new gig, you can count on one thing--he will never be unemployed again.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thirteen Reasons Wine

It’s not surprising to anyone that knows me that I’ve never consumed alcohol.  Not beer, not wine, not the hard stuff.  It has never slid down my throat, burning or purring its way into my stomach.  I’m the ultimate teetotaler.  Actually, I’m not even a teetotaler, since I also don’t drink tea or coffee.  At this point, some may be saying, What the freak?  How do you celebrate?  How do you relax?  How do you wake up?  How do you cope, especially with your seven adorable, but still, SEVEN, children? 

The answer is, I celebrate, I relax, I wake up, and I cope with motherhood.  I do it all, just without that stuff.  I bet it’s nice to relax at the end of the day with a glass of wine, and if I did drink, I’m sure I would be, as Lady Catherine de Bourgh once said, “A great proficient.”  Uncorking calm after a day of breaking up fights, assigning chores, doing laundry, running errands, who wouldn’t want that?  If I were looking for a reason to imbibe, it wouldn’t be hard to find one.  So, why do I live life sober?

It started out me just being a good Mormon kid.  Mormons are taught to abstain from alcohol, and pretty much anything that would cause you to wait in line at Starbucks.  So, that was my upbringing, and it served me well through those sketchy high school and college years where you’re trying to find yourself.  Not once did I find myself passed out on a bathroom floor, or with a hangover.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve examined my choice to live life stone, cold sober, and I gotta say, the longer I live, the more sense it makes.  There are some studies which tout the benefits of a drink a day, that it lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, or gallstones.  And maybe it does, but what are the chances I’d stop at a glass a day?  Who’s to say I wouldn’t be the one who LIKES alcohol so much that I’d be saying to myself, It’s five o’clock somewhere!  I’ve got socks that have been needing to be matched since 2015; I don’t have time for rehab.

And can’t I get the same health benefits from a glass of grape juice?  Yes!  And, grape juice never landed anyone in the Betty Ford Clinic.  Grape juice never put someone behind bars for a DUI, and it hasn’t yet caused anyone to stand by a  loved one's grave.

I know, I know.  People love their wine.  They love to pair it with food, and they love to use it for celebrations or relaxing or whatever.  And they love their drinking buddies.   I’ve seen more than once the disappointment in a person’s eyes when I’ve explained at a social function that I don’t drink.  It’s been an impediment to becoming closer to certain people, but it’s kept me 100 percent present for the people who matter most—the ones who could drive me to drink, my family. 

And so, I’ll stick to nursing my black cherry Fresca, so that I can enjoy the people who matter most.  Cheers.   

Thursday, November 9, 2017

My Kids Can't Act

As a young mom, I sometimes asked myself if I should let my kids try their hand at acting.  They were cute with bright personalities.  It didn’t take much to imagine them hamming it up on some agonizing sitcom, ala Full House.  They could have done it, and we could have used the cash.  But something stopped me from sending them to auditions, besides my complete lack of awareness regarding how to do that, and I think it can be summed up in one sentence—Hollywood isn’t wholesome.

Disney tries to appear somewhat wholesome, Nickelodeon less so, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.  These kids, who are idolized by our kids, seem to suddenly get older and feel the need to cast off their squeaky-clean image like it’s dirty underwear, and embrace adult things like nudity.  I don’t know about you, but I regularly show up to a photo shoot with just my panties on.  It’s what we adults do.
So, the transition to adulthood gets warped as they seek to be taken seriously by Hollywood.  Some examples of this include:  Jessica Biel appearing topless on a magazine at age 16, Britney Spears going nuts, Selena Gomez semi topless, Demi Lovato addiction and eating disorders, Miley doing whatever Miley does.  The transition to adulthood is derailed by the desire to be relevant, no matter what.  When you’re no longer cute and cuddly, you do whatever you can to keep those cameras rolling. 

Leading the way through this debauchery are the likes of Weinstein and Ratner, emperors of Hollywood, demanding that their subjects wear no clothes, and that’s just on the set.   Victims abound and it has always been so.  Producers have power and some of those wanting to be in the movies do whatever they can to get the job done. 

Now there are some who might say, Hey, these are just teen issues.  They would have gone through these things whether they were celebrities or not.  After all, look at Shirley Temple.  She turned out great!   Yep, once in a while, a child survives Hollywood, but that’s what it truly is, survival.
Does it look like the Stranger Things kids are having fun?  Absolutely.   And hopefully they will turn into well-adjusted adults.  It just isn’t likely.

The sad reality is that in Hollywood, women, men, and all too often children, end up getting screwed.