Although I’m not a big movie goer, there are a handful that I’ve watched many times as well as a select group I’ve watched so many times, I know all of the dialogue. All About Eve comes to mind and also (cough) Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.
There are few situations in life that can’t be turned on their heads with the simple recollection or repetition of a line or two of dialogue from Romy White, Michele Weinberger, Heather Mooney, or Sandy Frink, aka “the Frink-a-zoid.” They’re dumb funny and if you share one with someone who also knows the dialogue, well…they’re hilarious. It’s always just a teeny tiny bit disappointing to meet someone who is not familiar with the movie’s dialogue. Elaborate explanations sometimes fall flat in explaining things like Lady Fair cigarettes (with the quick burning paper for the gal on the go), inventing Post-its, and folding scarves.
On Sunday, I had the good fortune to spend a few hours with my best friend since second grade. That’s practically a “best friend forever,” and we’ve had a few “Romy & Michele” type of adventures in our lives, including going to high school reunions. (She’s the Mary, I’m the Rhoda.)
We met in Biddeford for breakfast at Biscuits & Company. Biddeford is an exciting city in transition, just as my brother said it was in his Boston Globe article.
We had a tasty meal and then embarked on a very adolescent adventure. Let’s just say we decided to drive by “Billy Christiansen’s” old house in Biddeford Pool and see if he still lived there. We must have driven down 100 narrow snow jammed roads along the ocean before our inner adult materialized and reminded us that “Billy Christiansen” had lived in Camp Ellis and not Biddeford Pool.
“What a waste of a tank of gas.”
We headed our separate ways and I checked my e-mails before I steered the wheels due north.
Newly arrived was a complaint from someone who had participated in one of my volunteer projects. It was confrontational and a little bit …threatening. Considering it was about something I volunteered to do in my free time, I was at a loss as to how to best respond. I’d never anticipated being threatened while doing volunteer work. I ran through a few potential rebuttals, like the professional response:
Dear Madame X,
Thank you for your recent complaint about gummy bears, jelly beans, and candy corns.
Unfortunately, your complaint is outside the scope of my volunteer efforts. Please take up your matter with the Commission for Candy Disputes.
Have a Romy & Michele Day,
Then there were numerous snarky responses I ran through my head and I’d rather not put into writing. The whole situation was upsetting because as I stated earlier, it was confrontational and I couldn’t believe Madame X had sent it. There’s a perfect line from All About Eve that would work well to describe it, but I don’t want to mix movie metaphors.
Fortunately, there’s dialogue from Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion. Romy & Michele are looking at their high school yearbook before going to the reunion. Romy says “remember what a big controversy it was for us to have our picture taken together?”
Michele says “Yeah, because Danny Weller like, lodged a complaint. Because alphabetically, he was supposed to be between us.”
That line perfectly summed up the disturbance floating around in my Sunday punch bowl.
What could I do? I was upset and it’s never a good idea to respond to “lodged complaints” when one is under the influence of “emotions in motion.” That’s like getting into a certain type of contest with a skunk. I took a detour on my way home and ended up at my “happy place,” Cabot Mill Antiques in Brunswick.
Ah…the return of my peace and tranquility.
Clear cut glass punch bowls, Fiesta ware of at least three mid-century colors, and a stunning reproduction Sheridan sideboard some lucky woman had just snagged. No lodged complaints, no skunks. Like Michele Weinberger watching Pretty Woman for the 36th time, “I just get really happy when they finally let her shop.”
I have learned that there are ways to lodge complaints that are more effective than others. In fact, it dates back to St. Helen of Immaculata’s (wearing her etiquette hat) timeless aphorism that “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Of course, I had to try my own, vinegar-infused methods for a number of years, getting angry, threatening, pontificating…none of these were effective in the least.
One of my first features for the Sun-Journal was on independent publishing. I drew upon my own experience, much of it gathered by trial and error and a serious commitment to being successful over the past decade. I never indicated in my article that I was the end all, be all on indie publishing.
Some asshole felt the need to send me a long, rambling email, slamming me, accusing me of not knowing what I was talking about, etc.. In the past, I would have responded, trying to reason and state my case. This time, I simply deleted his email after reading down into the third paragraph, realizing that someone who doesn’t have the ability to state their disagreement with a modicum of civility is not worth lending any time or power to. It felt really good. It’s a strategy I continue to employ with these types.