the Jolity of Julia

we had avoided the movie when it came out.

for a few reasons.

It was when we were starting to get sick. And the trailer was a little too surgery-like in its trussing of the fowl for our sensitive nature. Plus (we blush to admit this), we need to find the Leads of a Movie if not downright gorgeous then at least crushable and watchable and we Adore Meryl but the hair for Julia Child in character was Rather wiry. (Yes, we’re That Visual) and Amy – well, she’s very mignonne but the whole housewife-in-queens was a tiny bit depressing poor lamb.

And yet, last night, in our sinking into melancholy, we decided to take to our bed at a blushingly early hour of 8pm and turn off All Electronic Devices, unplug the Princess Phone and sink into the gentle embrace of a Nora Ephron movie.

It delivered on many levels (still didn’t like the trussing of fowl and lobster murder bits though) – mostly Women Resisting Authority and Finding a Place in Life.
Themes of some import, n’est ce pas?

Stanley Tucci is Very Watchable.

And we adored the gleaming emerald costume jewelry ring he wore throughout. A Nice Touch to the character, one might say.

Ok, here’s the true context, for us, of Julia Child – throw your mind back to 2002 – gosh – yes, a decade ago* – here’s our scene:

The whole dotbomb-debacle had thrown us Out of a Job (twice) in Los Angeles and we ended up running a half-way house for wayward late teens and young ladies (they were by the time we’d got through our Mary Poppins approach – spit spot and no mistake) who were attempting to live a somewhat shall we say Clean(er) existence.

It was a temp stop-gap that due to some clever wording of a job description allowed us to stay in the USA under the visa for foreigners rules.

But back to Julia Child – more specifically her Mastering the Art of French Cooking (note that it was for the American market hence the word Mastering – how the French must have blanched at that one, darlings)

One of our early days at the House saw us driving (a minivan?! NOT the vehicle we had assumed we’d be enjoying in LA) the teens to college, day jobs and therapists and then being left with a couple of early stage residents who had to return with us. After the usual chores and studies, we weren’t sure what to do with them………..so one suggested baking.

Baking?

We said, with a bemused-has-our-Hollywood-glam-career-come-to-this-look midway through the movie (we have written about this period of teamgloria’s Journey, oh yes).

Yes. Baking.

Gosh.

Then they did something Horrible that we will Never Forget.

the two little darlings (very Nichols and O’Neal actually) got a red Box out of the cupboard (as we insisted they called it, for fun, to cultivate a fully-rounded education) and plonked it gracelessly on the counter top.

What is that? we said.

(Being entirely naughty – we had grown up during the era of 70s cake mixes but had Quite forgotten)

No! we cried

And then smiled, upon spying a copy of Julia Child and Simone Beck’s book.

And we poured over the baking pages whereupon the little darlings were confused to find out a real cake started with butter, flour, sugar and so on.

Like we said – a fully rounded education as we also insisted on listening to Handel and Bach while baking (they had Other suggestions which we sighed over and re-directed their aural pleasures to a more edifying-ness) Or – on a particularly good occasion – we found some short stories on a CD read by Fiona Shaw at the Beverly Hills Library and made Scones.

A constant “fav” was this one – from a Noel Coward CD we had been given as a gift that year – the little precious ones listened open-mouthed as they sifted flour and buttered baking tins (with real butter, as per Julia, naturally, with satisfying waxed paper from a local californian dairy – bliss – The Country).

Their parents must have been Most Surprised when they sang this in the car upon being released Back into the Community, darlings ;)

Like we said – a fully-rounded cultural education.

Noël Coward – What’s Going to Happen to the Tots lyrics
Life today is hectic.
Our world is running away.
Only the wise can recognize
The process of decay.
All our dialectic
Is quite unable to say
Whether we’re on the beam or not,
Whether we’ll rise supreme or not,
Whether this new regime or not
Is leading us astray.

We all have Frigidaires, radios,
Television and movie shows
To shield us from the ultimate abyss.
We have our daily bread neatly cut,
Every modern convenience but
The question that confronts us all is this:

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Having been injected with some rather peculiar glands
Darling Mum’s gone platinum
And dances to all the rumba bands.
The songs that she sings at twilight
Would certainly be the highlight
For some of those claques that Elsa Maxwell
Takes around in yachts.
Rockabye, rockabye, rockabye my darlings,
Mother requires a few more shots.
Does it amuse the tiny mites
To see their parents high as kites?
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

Life today’s neurotic, a ceaseless battle we wage;
Millions are spent to circumvent
The march of middle age.
The fact that we grab each new narcotic
Can only prove in the end

Whether our hormones gel or not
Whether our cells rebel or not,
Whether we’re blown to hell or not,
We’ll all be round the bend
From taking Benzedrine, Dexamyl,
Every possible sleeping pill
To knock us out or knock us into shape.
We all have shots for this, shots for that,
Shots for making us thin or fat,
But there’s one problem that we can’t escape.

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Thanks to plastic surgery and uncle’s abrupt demise,
Dear Aunt Rose has changed her nose
But doesn’t appear to realize
The pleasures that once were heaven
Look silly at sixty-seven,
And youthful allure you can’t procure
In terms of perms and pots.
So lullaby, lullaby, lullaby my darlings,
Try not to scratch those large red spots,
Think of the shock when mummie’s face
Is lifted from its proper place,
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
It’s bizarre when grandmamma, without getting out of breath
Starts to jive at eighty-five and frightens the little ones to death.
The police had to send a squad car
When daddy got fried on vodka
And tied a tweed coat round mummie’s throat
In several sailor’s knots.
Hushabye, hushabye, hushabye my darlings,
Try not to fret and wet your cots.
One day you’ll clench your tiny fists
And murder your psychiatrists.
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

See – we feel we served a Real Purpose in their young lives.

One of them kept in touch with us for a while after and said the Baking Bits were truly helpful, especially in learning the lyrics to songs from the 1920s about how Miserably Ineffective some parents could be.

Her mother always gave us a wide berth at Wholefoods thereafter.

#sigh

*more here on our flashback to LA

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