Interview With Mom
Light pop culture chatter with my mom — whose verbal observances of my body have been going on since I was a child — over morning coffee during a weekend visit. Grammatical errors and logical strains on her part have been preserved for authenticity of this account.
So, we were talking about Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds’ abs. Who do you like more, and why?
Scarlett Johansson’s husband, the whole look of him I like it. It’s not his abs I like, I like the look of Scarlett Johansson’s husband. I kind of feel The Notebook actor his eyes are cross-eyed. I really think so, do you think?
His name is Ryan Reynolds, and he’s Scarlett Johansson’s ex; and the actor in The Notebook is Ryan Gosling — but yes, now that you mention it, his eyes do feel somewhat crossed. You had been comparing my lack to abs to Ryan Gosling’s abs in that movie, which I said was like comparing one’s daughter’s body to Scarlett Johansson’s, an ideal body, and how that is not nice, would you agree?
I rather you look like a little bit overweight like Jennifer Lopez rather than look like Nicole Kidman. That’s too skinny, just like you are now.
Okay, I see. So it’s not the abs, it’s the overall weight you are concerned with. Tell me about this movie you saw.
Phil, what is that movie we saw? [Father in background, squeezing orange juice]: Crazy Stupid Love. Nothing to tell, you go to see it.
Ma, no you were just talking about it, tell me about Crazy Stupid Love.
It’s very funny, it’s like your experience and you know their feelings, and you feel funny, it’s not like Dumb and Dumber that kind of stupid funny.
I will not see the movie, sorry. But aren’t all movies about one’s experience? What makes Crazy Stupid Love so special?
Because I only remember the past two months the movies I saw, the others I already forget.
Okay, what other movies do you remember seeing recently?
There’s one really really stupid one called “Trace of Life,” Brat Pitt.
Trace of Life? What are you talking about. But whatever, tell me about it.
When they started the movie, I asked your father did we get into the wrong theater, because I thought that’s some movie like those Channel 9 movies.
You mean public television documentaries?
Oh, you mean Tree of Life; you had said “Trace of Life.”
I don’t remember.
I’m transcribing this now. I can show you. Okay, tell me about Brad Pitt’s abs compared to Ryan Gosling’s and Ryan Reynolds’.
I never saw him naked in a movie, so I don’t know.
He showed his abs in Fight Club.
Flight Club? That’s too long ago I can’t remember.
But did you see it? You and dad tend to see every movie that ever comes out.
And you can’t offer anything about Fight Club? Just tell me everything you can remember, and don’t worry about being accurate.
I only remember those two people fight and had a lot of blood on the face. I don’t even remember why they are fighting for.
It was about anarchy, late capitalist discontentment, and ironic patriarchal self-hatred with homoerotic overtones.
What’s that mean, I don’t know what that means.
Sorry, I don’t know either.
Oh! We have to change Jennifer Lopez to Beyoncé as the overweight one; that is better.
I would like to offer that the latter is simply bootylicious.
Bootylicious!? In all my life, I hate my hips because it’s too big, so I don’t like bootylicious!
I will never do this again. Whenever you got your computer, I don’t talk.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”