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For a decade, I had an extremely unique car. He made everyone smile. At least once a day, my Little Buddy the T-bird made at least one other person besides me happy, and sometimes many more. I loved him. He was faithful, loyal, and brave through 114,000 miles and a decade together. He had a powerful V-8 engine under his hood, and he was 252 horsepower-full of fun. He was a rare gem with white-and-black leather seats and a smooth-to-the-touch, ivory stick shift. He even got excellent gas mileage and immaculate emissions reports.
I have included a photo here of the original 1955 mint-green model, the very first Ford Thunderbird. My Little Buddy was made in this signature color: Only 50 in this color were in the 11th generation of T-birds, the last series, which was produced only from 2002-2005, and I had one of them. I saw another mint-green signature model from the same series only one time, up in L.A. at the corner of Sunset and Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills. I waved enthusiastically; he did not wave back. Snob, I thought. I had my Little Buddy, and he had me; we were not alone.
Sadly, my Little Buddy was struck down in his prime on March 2, 2014. He has been mourned and very much missed. I had hoped we would be together for another decade, but unfortunately Ford (absurdly) decided not to support these little beauties, and no parts were available to rebuild him. He was finally relinquished to the insurance company, but not before I laid myself across his hood in the parking lot of the Ford dealership body shop and wept like a B movie queen. My only consolation is that his engine—like donating a heart—likely went to a Jaguar in need. The stereo system—like a kidney—went to my brother’s family.
Honestly, I never thought I could be so attached to a car. It is true that I’m a Southern Californian, and that I depend on cars to make my life work. I’ve also had a car continuously since I was 16 years old. However, before the T-bird, a car was just a tool to get around. On my value scale, a car was far below loved ones, friends, co-workers, students, pets, people in general, music, art, food, clothes, a fun dance partner, and education and enlightenment for all. And, of course, world peace—or whirled peas, as one bumper sticker has it. Compared with those sorts of things, a car was just a necessity. However, I truly loved my Little Buddy the T-bird. After the accident (Did I mention it was a hit-and-run on the 91 freeway in the dark?), people said, as people do: “It was just a car. Thankfully, you are all right. You can replace a car.” What they meant was: “Why are you sad about a stupid car? What’s the big deal? Why are you being so shallow?” What’s the big deal? For me, losing my Little Buddy was like losing a beloved pet, a valued member of the family. In fact, after the parking lot histrionics, I continued to cry for two weeks straight. I’ll never feel the same about a car ever again; he was the auto love of my life. And, he was, by the way, in fact, irreplaceable.
According to the wisdom of half-hour American sit-coms, most “normal” women are either not interested in sex, or they use it as a control mechanism. The usual scene on these shows plays out something like this: A middle-aged husband and wife are sitting up in bed, reading or watching TV. The man tries to bargain for the sex that his wife—naturally—is withholding. She feigns a “headache,” and hilarity ensues. Ha, ha. At the end of the scene, the woman looks like she is in charge, but she also looks like a giant prude, while the husband looks like a humiliated child who is denied his lollipop after dinner.
Perhaps in the 1980s this was a new kind of trope, but in 2014 it is more than tired. There are too many problems with this scene for me to address here; for example, in real life, it is actually much more likely to be the middle-aged man with the “headache” in this scenario. You would think given the frequency with which Viagra commercials fly through the air that people would pick on this, but, no, even the men in Viagra commercials are horn dogs—even when they aren’t. The crux of television often getting sex scenes so wrong, especially in scenes involving characters over the age of 40, stems from the writers of these sit-coms and television commercials, who are mostly 20-something men who have no real idea what goes in the bedrooms of people over 40. Still, people watch and laugh. Continue reading Sex on Television? Yes, Please by Lisa Montagne
A sneak peak at Archive 405 Vol. 3: The Relationships Issue
What happens when you can’t remember a person’s name? The Name Game
I’ve been told that if I want to figure out my stripper name (and who doesn’t?) just use my childhood pet’s name in combination with the name of the street that I grew up on. The result: Kitty Rowland. Not half bad. If I wore the right outfit, some people might buy it if I introduced myself with “Hi! My name is Kitty Rowland.” The truth is, though, that even if my name were Kitty Rowland, it would not be any easier for people to remember than Lisa Montagne.
According to psychologist Jeremy Dean, there is research confirming that remembering names is difficult for everyone. Jill Speigel, author of How to Talk to Anyone About Anything, says that “everyone struggles with remembering names. When we first meet someone we’re taking in so much visually and emotionally. They say their name, but it’s up there floating in our heads.” Speigel adds that many common names, like Chris, Joe, Jill, or Amy, all “tend to blend together.” As a result, while we may recognize a person’s face the next time we see him, his name has taken a low priority in our brain’s information processing system—which is, it turns out, completely normal for just about everyone. Continue reading The Name Game by Lisa Montagne
After high school, everything changes for most people. Even if a young person stays near home to go to college or to work, daily life no longer takes place entirely in the safe arenas of school, home, friends, and familiar environments. A person may be required to, or choose to, move out of her parent’s home, and many of her friends may leave for college, move or simply fade away. Students who go away from home to college undoubtedly experience the most severe uprooting, but for them, there is often some refuge provided by the college community. But, whether a person stays near home or goes to another city, it is very challenging to replace the built-in community that exists for most Americans throughout the usual school years.
It is easy to become isolated in urban and suburban areas where no built-in and consistent communities exist just outside a person’s door. Large populations, such as those in Southern California, are overwhelming and make it impossible to know everyone, which is more likely in small towns. In fact, it is often not desirable to know one’s neighbors in city and suburban environments—it could be threatening to privacy and even dangerous in some cases, especially for people who live alone.
As the country has become more urban and suburban during the last fifty years, and as small-town communities have become the exception rather than the rule, the challenge of finding a group to belong in has been made increasingly difficult. One might even argue that urban gangs have become attractive to young people because there is no natural community available to them, so they make their own–no matter how misguided they may be.
As a result of the isolating nature of modern society, a person must actively seek a group or groups to belong to in order follow his natural instincts for love, security, a sense of place in the world, and a context for creating a meaningful life. Continue reading How To Make a Community by Lisa Montagne
My Own Personal Tina Fey by Lisa Montagne
September 9, 2013
Throughout my life, I have been told that I resemble various actresses: in the 80s, it was Sally Field; in the 90s it was Julia Louis-Dreyfus (something to do with the big 90s hair); in the early 2000s it was Megan Mullally as Karen Walker on “Will and Grace” (please note that I am a generous—and not a mean—drunk); and for the past four or five years, it has been Tina Fey. I admire these women immensely; they are all smart, talented, sassy, and pretty in the kind of way that gets the blood of pasty-faced nerds flowing. I am happy to be compared with these women; I wouldn’t mind being any one of them, especially Tina Fey. She has many impressive talents and accomplishments, all wrapped up in wit and wisdom, but I especially admire her for pulling off kissing Paul Rudd on the big screen in a 2013 rom com—that was truly inspiring. If, as a woman who came to be a movie star late in the game, she can get hired to play the love interest of such a yummy cutie-pie as Paul Rudd, then I feel as if I can do anything.
Speaking of being able to do anything: Compared with most of the women in the world—both today and in the past—Sally, Julia, Megan, Tina, and I lead pretty good lives. Granted, I am not a movie or a TV star, although in my daydreams I am alternatively a cabaret singer who performs burlesque in a skimpy corset and has legs as long as the Pacific Coast Highway, and a stand-up comic, a girl version of Steve Martin who packs stadiums and jams on the fiddle between cerebral jokes. The truth is, of course, that I am just an anonymous worker bee in the business of life. However, I do have so much to be thankful for. Continue reading My Own Personal Tina Fey by Lisa Montagne
By Lisa Montagne
Hi! Welcome to “Talking Out of My Pie Hole,” where I do just that—spout about a multitude of things from dance to the exceptional benefits of setting one’s expectations very low. Why am I blogging? I am on a fool’s journey to uncover some truths, just like many essayists before me. My great writing heroes, the likes of Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, and Mark Twain, set the example. And, who am I to argue with them?
My old aunts say we are related to the French founding father of the modern essay, Michel de Montaigne, but aunts say a lot of things—like my green nail polish makes my nails look Continue reading Welcome
This article was written for archive405.com, an online arts and culture magazine. Vol. 1: We’re Doomed! An exploration of dystopia and utopia, August 2013.
5 Reasons That Everyone Should Learn to Dance by Lisa Montagne
There is so much to be afraid of—gun violence in the streets, impending hikes in interest rates, and rampant poisoning of the environment. If you live in Southern California, like I do, you also have to worry about earthquakes, wildfires, and—apparently—sharknadoes. According to the talking heads on television every morning, I shouldn’t even bother getting out of bed. Dystopia is here, it has been here, and it is here to stay. The nation is a big drama queen, and that is never going to change, no matter how much therapy it goes through.
With the nation addicted to fear, utopia doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Death Valley. But, not so fast, America! I have the antidote to dystopia: everyone needs to learn to dance. Rugby or basketball might not be for everybody, but I say that dance is THE sport for every last person on this planet. Just hear me out. Continue reading 5 Reasons That Everyone Should Learn To Dance by Lisa Montagne