My 10-year-old son was born the year that Austin Powers’ Goldmember came out. He hasn’t seen the movie. It’s a little risque’ for a fifth grader, or at least that’s what I thought until we watched James Bond in Goldfinger during Family Movie Night. A couple days later, my son made a joke about Goldfinger at the dinner table that could have been written by Mike Myers. I’d tell you what the joke was, but then I’d have to kill you. Suffice to say that it was immature and completely inappropriate. Soon, my younger boy joined in, repeating the off-color joke over and over, as seven-year-olds are prone to do. I admit, I started laughing. “Okay, that’s enough,” their dad said in his serious grown-up voice. But then, he, too, succumbed to their lowbrow humor. Such is a typical Tuesday night dinner at our house.
When my husband AO and I first met, he was a young writer on a hit NBC sitcom and I was halfway through a graduate program in film producing at USC. He took me to the bar of a five-star hotel in Beverly Hills, and it was pretty much love at first date. It wasn’t just his blue eyes and sandy colored hair that won my heart, or the fact that he ordered a grownup drink and listened intently to what I had to say, all the while staring at me like I was Gisele Bundchen. It was his self-deprecating sense of humor. Afterwards, we went back to his place and looked at pictures of his Bar Mitzvah before tearing each other’s clothes off. As the women in Woody Allen’s life will attest, there’s no greater turn-on than funny.
Our second date was decidedly less sexy. I ended up with a horrible stomachache from the rich food at cute Italian bistro near my apartment in Santa Monica. Afterwards, we stopped at the drug store for some Alka-Seltzer. He stayed with me all night, even though it was clear there would be no hanky-panky. I don’t remember our third date because by then I was basically living with him. Or, at least my cat was. I maintained the façade of my own apartment while we built a life together that included scheduled TV watching, combined laundry and weekend escapes to romantic spots along the coast.
Occasionally we’d make an appearance at a group dinner or house party. But our friends were, for the most part, unattached, and there’s nothing more nauseating to single people than two googly-eyed lovebirds just back from their sixth spa weekend in Napa. I was fine to ditch his buddies and remain in our love cocoon. He wasn’t so crazy about my friends from grad school, many of which had taken jobs at studios or production companies. Though still low on the Hollywood food chain, they carried themselves with a certain arrogance that was really annoying. There was lots of name dropping. AO would privately joke about it, which reminded me not to take myself too seriously.
After five years of living in sin, he popped the question with a big sparkly ring on April Fool’s Day. (Both the diamond and the proposal were real). We considered saying a quickie “I do” in Las Vegas, but I couldn’t ditch the fantasy of a traditional wedding. Bringing together our blended families was no small feat. The night before our big fat Catholic-Jewish-Canadian-African-American-Italian wedding, my mom and I were obsessing over the seating arrangements like network executives planning the fall TV schedule. My beloved walked in, tossed off a few one-liners and had us rolling on the floor. Things could go wrong (and they did), but as long as we maintained our sense of humor, we’d be okay.
Comedy writing turned out to be pretty lucrative, until the Writers Guild went on strike, the economy tanked, and then, nobody in Hollywood was laughing. My husband had written hundreds of episodes of successful sitcoms, but it was his other talents — self-discipline, perseverance, and industry savvy – that kept us afloat. It also helped that he’s Canadian. From Martin Short to Mike Myers to Seth Rogen, there’s lots of funny in the Canadian DNA. AO created a sitcom about three overly close brothers and the woman who comes between them guest starring Canadians Eugene Levy and Pamela Anderson.**
Fast forward seventeen years and two kids in private school from that first date. Late night cocktails at five-star hotels don’t happen as often. Getaways are less spontaneous and more kid-friendly. Being part of the saggy boobs and receding hairline generation is not as cool as when we were in our twenties, burning up all that disposable cash on the latest celebrity-owned bad restaurant. And yet… I’m still laughing. That’s partly because I have an appreciation for what seven and 10-year-old boys think is funny. But mostly it’s because I had the wisdom to pick a guy who helps me find the humor in life every day, no matter how dark and dismal it may appear to be.
** Shameless promotion. Check out PACKAGE DEAL, on Canada’s City TV premiering June 25 with Harland Williams, Jay Malone, Randal Edwards, Julia Voth, and guest starring Eugene Levy and Pamela Anderson at www.citytv.com/vancouver/shows/package-deal. You’ll laugh your ass off.