Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Why aren't you happy yet?

Back from the first of my jaunts abroad, the Amsterdam leg. A very lovely place. It took me a day or so to get used to the bicycles whizzing by at top speed, and to remember to stay OFF the bike path lest I get mowed down. And it hailed, hard wet pellets of misery on our shivering selves.

Despite this, we had a marvelous and indeed well-behaved time, our depravity restricted to a quick spin round the red light district to see what all the fuss is about. Oh, and a few cheeky beers in a cafe by the canal, despite being well within the two week wait. We stayed in a glorious charming B&B, with a massive comfy bed. With fresh pastries for breakfast, of which I think I may have consumed my body weight several times over.

In celebration of E's birthday, we went to a show one night, a very entertaining comedy thing by an American theater company called Boom Chicago. The show was entitled "Why Aren't You Happy Yet?" and comprised a series of both scripted sketches and audience participation improvisation. Frankly, I expected it to be rubbish when E. first described it to me, but it was hee-lair-ee-ous. Oh, how we laughed, ha ha ha, aided by a few more cheeky cocktails and more beers.

However, like every garden of Eden of enjoyment, there was the one usual infertility related snake.

When we sat down, there were little slips of paper on the tables, asking your name and, simply, Why Aren't You Happy Yet? followed by a blank to insert your reason. These would then be used by the cast later on in the show in one of their improv pieces.

E. loves proving to the world how clever he is at coming up with shit like that, so he grabbed the pen and filled my name in at the top. Then there was a long pause. We looked at each other.

"So. Why aren't we happy yet?" he asked.

"Well, duh," I said. "You know why."

"I can't write INFERTILITY. That's so unfunny. That's a major downer, not to mention too personal," he grumbled.

"But it would be true," I told him.

"Think of something else," he urged me.

Pause. Pause. Sips of beer.

"OK," I said finally, "how about: "I want my boyfriend to marry me, but even though he wants to father my children, he simply won't propose!" Lots of chuckles in that one, right?

E. crumpled up the paper and threw it away.

Later, during the show, the cast selected someone else's slip.

"MARY," shouted the cast member (shouting because it's theater, dahlink, and they have to speak at top volume), "IS NOT HAPPY YET BECAUSE....."I HAVE THREE DAUGHTERS AND AM STILL WAITING TO BECOME A GRANDMOTHER.""

There followed an excruciating sketch, in which said cast had to turn this into something funny. Naturally, one of the daughters had no children because she was a ball-busting high-flyer with no time for kids. The second daughter was a lesbian. This was rather interesting, since unless I missed something, being a lesbian doesn't automatically render one sterile.

I can't remember what they thought up for the third daughter because by that point I was under the table gnawing my own leg off, and calling for additional cheeky cocktails to ease the pain.

The following day we woke up, consumed yet more pastries, and went to visit the Anne Frank House . This was something of a momentous occasion for me, Anne's diary having been an immense inspiration to me when I was growing up, and indeed, one of the reasons that from the age of 11, and up until the start of this blog, I kept my own diary.

I half expected the exhibition to be overblown and cheesy, but the museum itself, which is basically the house itself where Anne and her family went into hiding, tells the story of the Secret Annexe with a remarkable simplicity. Even with crowds moving through the narrow rooms, it was an immensely moving and poignant experience. Particularly when I stood in what had been Anne's room, looking at the old pictures of film stars she had pasted to the walls to make her surroundings more cheery. I suddenly found there were tears behind my eyes and a little lump in my throat.

Sombered, we went out into the cold November rain, not getting very far before promptly ducking into a cozy cafe for one last cheeky beer. And I raised my glass to young Anne, who I imagine would have understood very well the appeal of blogging, and who knew very well the importance of continuing to tell her own story, even during the darkest times.

5 Comments:

At 9:31 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Oh Mare. Beautiful post. You have such a way of bringing hilarity and heartbreak together in the most unexpected and truthful way.

 
At 9:38 PM, Blogger Emily said...

Mare,

Glad to have you back and that you had a good time. Yeah, infertility is just too hard to make humorous in a 'skit'.

The Anne Frank haus was the most sombering experience I can remember during our trip to Europe last year. My husband and I just sat very quitely in the warm sunshine on the side of canal after we came out. I was most fascinated by the pictures of movie stars that young Anne hung up on the walls of her confinement; still there all these years later a testament that she existed and left a legacy behind. I also cannot forget the diary on display there -- her perfect, tiny, neat script, pouring her heart, soul and dreams onto the pages. Yes, indeed, Anne would be a blogger, yes indeed.

xxxxoooo,

 
At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The good thing about being a slacker blogger is when I return to the land of blog I do not have to wait for the details of story left untold. I just caught up on your blog, read your upcoming trip to Amsterdam and Voila! Instant story.

Glad to have you back (as if I had known....really I am a very bad blogger...smacking my own hand).

-alex here from the kitchens (presently being used as the blog room and doubling as my thanksgiving of the infertile gourmet

 
At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The good thing about being a slacker blogger is when I return to the land of blog I do not have to wait for the details of story left untold. I just caught up on your blog, read your upcoming trip to Amsterdam and Voila! Instant story.

Glad to have you back (as if I had known....really I am a very bad blogger...smacking my own hand).

-alex here from the kitchens (presently being used as the blog room and doubling as my thanksgiving feast central. I wonder if this turkey ever had children?) of the infertile gourmet

 
At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I raise my glass to Anne too. I hope somewhere out there she knows how much her story has touched so many people's lives. Here's to the Anne. *Clink*
(Glad you are back!) Love, Heidi (lost and finding)

 

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