Saturday, June 3, 2006

having a Carrie moment

I've been having some Carrie Bradshaw moments lately.

Now, I know what the more virtuous among you are thinking--or at least I think I do, so it's a crapshoot, really--and that is, "Uck, television programming?" And even if you're the sort who is cool with the medium that turns us all into mindless buyers of advertised goods and subconscious value systems (as I can be, at times), you're thinking, "A show that glorifies wanton comsumption and reckless, unnecessary spending?! I thought this Leah character called herself an environmentalist!" If this is your reaction, as it has been my own, again at times, I have an answer for you as well: Carrie has been there for me. Stupid, girly or weak as it might seem (and what's wrong with being girly, I want to know, especially since I can proudly wear gumboots or heels, and look equally cute in either), Sex and the City has been a part of my adult life since I flew the coop at 18 and headed west to try the life of a nanny.

It started with my first apartment in Whistler, the converted den in the basement of the home of the family I was working for. Along with a kitchen, bedroom, and bath, it came with the entire second season of SATC on VHS, a show which Laurie (the mum, and my boss) slightly disdained. Sarah Cashman, on the other hand, the tall, gorgeous doyenne of reading fashion magazines, an Aussie also able to have messy, silly fun on the slopes (my kind of woman, in other words), and my new acquaintance, soon helped me to establish a routine of creating "foodie-not-weirdo" pizzas (piled with salmon, spinach and other such odd ingredients), drinking red wine, and watching hours of Carrie and the girls. That winter and into spring, they were there for us as we met boys, liked boys, took boys home and ultimately rejected or were rejected by said boys, only to start the whole process over again soon or later, usually sooner.

Sarah C. and I imitated their panache when I visited her in her sunny, Down-Under home country, and though we didn't recreate our Whistler SATC-fests, we didn't have to: we shopped, dressed up on occasion, and usually felt as sassy as if we were meeting the foursome for lunch instead of just each other. Oh yes, and the meeting of boys continued. What else would we have to talk about over mochas at the QVB?

Just this past April, as school was winding down to a close, I gave in and rented the fourth season, picking up where I had left off in BC those years ago. (Although, in between there, I did watch the final shows of the sixth season, so I do know it ends with a Big, err, bang.) Laura and Marlo were my wing-women as we ate delicious food, drank red wine, and watched copious amounts of the show about, well, copulation. When I was hungover, it was there like a dear friend to soothe the nerves and take my mind off things, and when I needed a pick-me-up or an eyeful of bright colors and city lights, it was likewise trustworthy. I realized that like a fine wine, a good cheese, or a Jill Scott album, the show really does get better with age. And when I was in New Hampshire just recently, having an encounter with my own "Mr. Big" --or would that be my own "Aidan"? Time will tell-- I spent a rainy Saturday with Jennie B., a pan of hot fudge brownies, and two discs of the fifth season; the two latter items were devoured. We laughed at the silly outfits Carrie gets away with and if not cried, at least were sad when Big comes back into Carrie's life, only to disappear, again.

I'd like to pretend, at times, that I'm virtuous, and completely against the sort of society that magazines and TV shows promote, because there are consequences of always wanting new things and discarding what is out of fashion just because it is. There are big, environmental consequences that all of us in this society must wake up to, and act against. But at the same time, there is a part of me I can't deny, the part that loves to get a new fashion magazine, loves to dress up, loves to mix color and pattern and match jewellery and bags and shoes until you get that alchemical mixture, better than turning lead to gold, turning mere clothing into an outfit. This should not mean I can't be taken seriously in a philosophical or academic discussion, nor that I'm not aware of the repercussions of our society as it exists today, but what it does mean is what I've already said: Carrie and the girls, both my real girlfriends and the imaginary TV ones, have been there for me, for that part of me. And sometimes we like to shop, and sometimes we like to kvetch over coffee. As I get older I realize these serve real purposes, too. And at the end of the day, I know I can count on them. The real friends I can telephone, and the others, well, they're at the end of a remote.

So all of this might be why I caught myself having a Carrie Bradshaw moment today, in the Baddeck Co-Op (our local grocery store, one of two), of all places, where, coincidentally, gumboots are on for $17.99, a steal compared with Carrie's preferred Manolo Blahniks. I was in the canned soup and vegetables aisle, perusing the qualities of a packet of Lipton's instant soup (just add water!) and thinking about the comparison between that soup packet and a certain ex-boyfriend/dear friend with whom I speak on the phone an awful lot more than I see in person. Not because he is tomato-basil flavoured, but because being in person is like adding water, fleshing out the person you had previously imagined. And, I couldn't help but wonder, will the real version ever live up to the picture on the package? Are we cheating ourselves to assume one day a perfect packet of soup will look and taste exactly as good as Lipton's promises, or is it easier in the long run to admit to ourselves that there is no such thing as "perfect packet"? So to speak...

Oh Carrie, I think we're all in the same boat on this one. It's something to ponder, anyway, about relationships but also about life in general. I mean, to quote another imaginary character, this one from film, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

For the moment, I'm fine with that. I start work in two days, I have the weekend Globe and Mail waiting for me on the sofa, and I'm truly looking forward to seeing what the future (immediate and far) has in store. I'm also making my own damn soup. Home-made trumps Lipton's any day of the week, especially if you pair it with crusty bread, butter, a salad, red wine and of course, a certain television show...

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