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November 22, 2001

Gobble Gobble

Once upon a time, I was a vegetarian. I'm not sure why. Oh, wait, I remember. I'd had my wisdom teeth extracted and I ended up not eating for the entire summer I turned 15. I got blissfully anorexic. When I started eating again, I never added meat back in.

Well, not never. I think I went about three years without eating meat. I ate seafood, since that didn't walk around or get milked or anything, but I was a pretty dang good vegetarian, I think.

No one ever really noticed that I didn't eat turkey at Thanksgiving. I'd eat dressing and gravy, so why should anyone expect that I had a little wedge of white meat hidden under my cranberry sauce? I guess I wasn't a great vegetarian after all. There's turkey broth in the gravy, right?

Oh well.

My most traumatic Thanksgiving dinner took place in Calabassas, California, in 1993. I was away from home for the first Thanksgiving of my young life. My boss, a musical artist manager, fancied himself my LA-based father figure, and called my mother to tell her I'd be having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at his home.

I asked if I could bring anything, as good southern girls do, and was told just to bring myself; his wife would have everything prepared. Truth be told, his wife was more of a supervisor in that kitchen; directing traffic made up of four non-English-speaking employees. I chose to hang out in the study with my boss, a record label exec, and Meat Loaf's business manager. I had more in common with them, somehow.

Dinner is served. Why are there raisins and walnuts in my cranberry sauce? How is oyster stuffing considered a complementary dressing for turkey? And where are the mashed potatoes? Where is the candied marshmallow glaze across the sweet potatoes? Where is all the beloved Thanksgiving starch? And why are we drinking wine? I'm expecting iced tea so sweet a spoon stands up in the glass.

I miss home.

Give me over-cooked green beans, five different casserole dishes, and cranberry sauce with rings on it, fresh from the can. Then, I'll be able to pass out after Thanksgiving dinner like every other loyal American former vegetarian: properly stuffed, in front of the television, hoping to be woken up for pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and banana pudding with Nilla Wafers.

Tiramisu is for communists.

Posted by bonnie at 1:47 PM

November 8, 2001

My New Favorite TV Show

I am not even going to begin to be disturbed by the fact that my columns make it seem as though I value TV above any human social interaction. That's not productive behavior (though it may be something worth being disturbed over... later).

A month ago, having given up on "Saturday Night Live" just after the "Weekend Update" segment, I flipped through my non-cable TV choices and came across a new show, syndicated, begging to be watched (by me, anyway), "Cheaters."

One segment and I was forever hooked. "Cheaters" has become my heroin. If you are in my house at 11:55pm Saturday, you will be prepped for the upcoming hour in a, "Get ready or leave now," speech of sorts. I am not interested in what you think about the show, nor what you think it says about me that I love this show. I just want you to hold all commentary until the commercial breaks. Of course, gasps and exclamations of, "Oh my gawd!" are expected and encouraged.

"Cheaters" encourages viewers to contact their office in Dallas. From Cheaters.com: "Thank you for considering "Cheaters'" licensed detectives to assist you with your matter. "Cheaters" wishes only the best outcome for you." This is what's so amazing about this show (and its propaganda): while viewers are watching unfaithful spouses with unknowing (or oblivious) boy toys or bimbos, producers are selling the premise as a service to the "Client" who has "hired" them (of course, there is no charge for the tailing, recording, and confronting of the "Suspect"... just the right to broadcast it).

"Exercise your right to know the truth," is the tagline to a commercial break. While host Tony Grand (a pseudonym), all tan and dressed in black like some reject from a Johnny Cash/George Hamilton Revue in Vegas, hugs a "Client," he shows her a video montage of her beloved engaging in non-monogamous behavior (my favorite clip included the hubby tossing a used condom from a car window after having gotten frisky with the couple's roommate... who is also the "Client's" sister). She falls into the host's arms, weeping uncontrollably.

What do you know? The "Suspect" and his mistress are together right now, engaging in vehicular sex, yet again (lots of sex-in-cars on this show, by the way). "Yes, Sarah, it's true. We have them under surveillance in a parking lot near his workplace. They are currently engaging in sexual activity... in your car." Sarah gasps as the camera closes in for a more dramatic shot. "Do you want to confront them now?" Suddenly, with the realization that the infidelity is in her Infiniti, Sarah's tears dry up and she gets furious, wailing, "You bet your ass I do!"

And this is just in the first 15 minutes of this hour-long schlock-fest!! Oh, yes... we get two cases, plus follow-up interviews with "Suspects" from previous shows; a sort of "Where Are They Now" report on whether or not couples tried to work through the cheating issue.

Here's where it gets really good: every couple tries to work it out, gets into rehab, or comes back to speak to "Cheaters'" producers (on-camera, of course), meaning that the show has committed a public service.

This is considered healing Television. You've got it... all of that drama is just a set-up for the self-righteous, scared-straight line of BS that comes at the end of the show. We all leave the show filled with warm fuzzies and the satisfied glow of knowing that we can work through the trauma of our personal lives.

This is exactly what the world needs: hope that a little hidden-camera action and a production crew-slash-posse can heal the world... one couple at a time.

Posted by bonnie at 1:48 PM