I wanted to flip the switch, do a personality U-turn when I picked this rule. Instead of attempting to be amusing all the time, I wanted to live in the blissed-out state of amused. I'm quibbling over definitions, I guess, but the fact is I've worked hard at making merry and creating amusement for myself and others; in any crisis or conflict, I've focused on being funny and attempted to defuse the stressful situation like a rodeo clown trying to distract the bull.
I come by my hyuk hyuk training honestly, through necessity, that childhood of invention. One of my earliest memories is of imitating a World Wrestling Federation fighter, running back and forth in front of the couch, winding up to pretend punch someone while my mother giggled and my father smiled. Let’s ignore that it was my imaginary violence that brought forth the she’s-so-cute chuckles for now; I was trying to distract them from their unhappy union. Hard to believe two people with completely different personalities, tastes and temperaments could find each other but such is the situation in an arranged marriage. Add to this that they were total strangers, (except for the part where they were second cousins through a previous generation’s marriage) and you have the makings of that entertainment formula attributed to Steve Allen, Comedy = Tragedy + Time. I used to joke that the only thing my parents had in common was their DNA and researching my family tree might reveal I was related to myself many different ways. I've drawn several flowcharts over the years to keep my Mormon-ish identity straight and still, I get confused. In any case, my parents’ Molotov-cocktail-marriage was the Petri dish for my slapstick-loving soul.
There were ten rules to choose from, including the tempting Obey Your Whims, All You Need is a Kitchen and a Bedroom, and Every Woman Should Have a Blowtorch. I picked Rule #3. This, by the way, is a beautiful chapter in the book. No surprise, I've been a fan of Karen’s writing ever since I read Generation Ex: Tales from the Second Wives' Club, and The Stuff of Life: A Daughter's Memoir. Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life is going to be released October 1st and in case you’re thinking, “What can I get Eufemia for an early Christmas gift?” Ta-dah! You’re welcome.
Initially, I walked around my neighbourhood recording items that were more absurd than amusing, trying to Live Like Julia, and at the same time, follow Henry James advice to "be one of the people on whom nothing is lost." I noticed the squirrels were acting strange, perhaps because I was staring at them, and that 57 pigeons lined up on a telephone wire is spooky and Hitchcocky, even in broad daylight, when you’re safe and sound and humming to yourself that you’re fine, the birds are fine, and everything is just as it should be, tra-la-lah.
Then it occurred to me to put Mastering the Art of French Cooking on hold at the library. (It was my Uh-oh moment, which I have more frequently than Ah-ha but still counts as enlightenment in my book.) I mean, I've read this chapter a few times and suddenly it dawns on me to do something in the kitchen to Live Like Julia? I'm calling my father right now to see how many times I was dropped on my head. To be honest, it probably didn't twig simply because I have a kitchen phobia, which according to modern psychologists doesn't exist, but #1) What do they know? And B) mageirocophobia can develop and is a common condition. That’s a mouthful, and it means the individual suffers from a fear of cooking. That’s not quite my conundrum – I'm not afraid – though I have experienced a few fiascos in the culinary department. Ever had your garlic turn blue-green while frying it in a pan? It’s happened to me several times. Okay, multiple if you want to get technical about it.
Being that I'm on a budget and no one is clamouring for Tofu Bourguignon, I found a Julia Child recipe on-line that I'm going to make from ingredients in my fridge. It calls for lemon and garlic, the brutal combination that thwarted me before, turning my carefully minced cloves a bright turquoise. As Julia herself said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Sayonara terror, hello tasty. Stay tuned. Prepare to be amused.