Review : The Meddler – A Movie About People With Too Much Time on their Hands

Meddler

Do you ever have those days in your life when you feel the need to cry for no real reason as such? No? OK, It’s just me then! So, I was having one such day after being debilitated by a spider bite and having not much drive to do anything but veg in front on the TV. Someone recommended watching the Zoo Keeper’s Wife – apparently its a good trigger for making a person cry. Sadly, it wasn’t available so I got a movie called the Meddler instead. From the blurb (and the cover) it looked like a fairly run of the mill chick flick which wouldn’t require too much mental strength but like never judge a DVD by its cover.

Despite the initial impression that the Meddler would be light and fluffy (which it was in many ways) it turned out to have a little bit more depth than I expected and a lot that I could relate to with going-ons/interactions in my own sad little life (remember I was trying to cry!).  The story centres of Marnie, played by Susan Sarandon, who in the aftermath of her beloved husband’s death finds herself at a bit of loose end. With no real direction or purpose in life she relocates from New Jersey to LA to be closer to her daughter, Lori, a successful (but still single) career woman. As expected, the constant questions, invasion of privacy and tonnes of unsolicited advice on how to find a man, force Lori to establish certain boundaries with her mother (eventually she is forced to relocate to get away from her!). Marnie, however, being an eternal optimist, is fairly thick-skinned and takes this rejection from her daughter on the chin and finds other avenues (read: adopts some new ‘children’) for her energies.

Having inherited lots of money and being a friendly sort of lady, Marnie doesn’t struggle to attract the attentions of a few weird and wonderful ‘black sheep’ types (who no doubt were rejected by their own mothers). With so much time on her hands, she gets to work organising (read: footing the bill) for a big fat lesbian wedding and playing chauffeur (and nattering the ear off) a young guy who works at the Apple iStore. Thankfully, but somewhat unrealistically, the strangers that Marnie chooses to help are appreciative of her efforts and not solely out to rinse and generally take advantage of her in her vulnerable, lonely, recently widowed state.

It’s a good movie and beyond the LOLs and romantic subplots, it’s actually a story about a lady trying to make the way in the world without the love of her life who has clearly been the focus for so long. I think it’s a story that lots of people can identify with and one which is likely to become part of many of our life stories at some point in time.

As I touched upon, Marnie’s story is a little idealistic in many ways. Firstly, as annoying as Marnie is to her daughter, she is truly a well-meaning ‘meddler’ and her ‘adopted’ kids are also decent enough not to take too much advantage of that.  Sadly, this is the reality for real-life ‘meddler’ types. Most get taken advantage of by pragmatic entitled individuals who are too lazy to sort themselves out and feel that the world is to blame for all their problems. Secondly, while many ‘meddlers’ mean well there are also another breed – one which innocent, young people need to be wary off.  These are sad, old people that never amounted to much in their own lives (eg 80 something angry ‘poets’ and the like) therefore are not simply trying to live vicariously through you but are jealous of your happiness and intent on ‘meddling’ in a way that could potentially destroy you. Keep your eyes open and your wits about you with these ones.

So Rinsers, have you seen The Meddler? What did you think? Have you ever experienced a ‘Meddler’ in real life? Were they off the well-meaning variety or just a sad, judgmental old person who has become bitter and twisted because they have nothing to show for millions of years on the planet and are now at a point in their lives where they can’t even get laid? And finally, do you think that real life Marnie’s leave themselves open for manipulation by the lazy, entitled millenial folk of today? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

 

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Family Issues – a Lesson in Empathy

sad childIf your parents and family have always surrounded you with love, supported and shown interest in the person you are and want to be (and not the one they’d like you to be), that’s great. Nevertheless, you’re more than likely in the minority.

Family issues vary as each and every family has its own. Sometimes it’s a dirty secret which takes the form of the brother, who with all the opportunities he had, became a no-good sponge, forever dependent on the parents. Another time it’s religious disagreements between the parents wanting their child to follow a religion while he or she is an incorrigible atheist (or the other way round). Last but not least, there are the unspoken issues of the seemingly functional families that no one wants ever to surface (ask Norman Bates). The point is, we all have our dirty family secrets, our grudges and disagreements. And yet, it doesn’t seem like it teaches people any empathy regarding such issues.

Obviously there are expectations of how families should (appear to) be. You should be nice to your folks and co, you should keep in touch with them, you should be excited to see them when you didn’t for a long time. If for whatever reasons you don’t comply with the should’s, people start to question you and assume that there’s something wrong with you. Asking a deeper question and wondering whether maybe there’s something wrong with the other side isn’t rewarding for most. For how will you gossip about someone’s family you don’t know? It’s much easier to label the person you know as weird and spread the word. At the same time there may be plenty of reasons why someone doesn’t want to tell you the details of their familial relationships and gives you a blanket answer such as “we don’t get on well”. The first explanation is usually – you’re just not important enough in their life and don’t deserve to know more.

It’s not just about not telling those who don’t matter, however, but most of those who matter too. People often get uncomfortable with the truth. Tell them about a running drinking habit in the family and how you’re scared that you’ll develop it one day. Try to confide in someone years of psychological abuse. I’m not even talking here about those whose scars are so deep they’ll never recover after what’s been done to them. Others don’t want to know because it makes them uncomfortable but if someone’s issues make you uncomfortable, have you ever thought how uncomfortable they make the person who’s experiencing them feel?

The feeling of being uncomfortable and the urge of others to silence you is one thing but the lack of sensitivity is another. When you go through the difficult decision of confiding in someone, their answer is often dismissive. Your dad’s been emotionally and physically absent from your life? Bitch, please, think about all all these kids in India who have their limbs cut off so that they make better beggars! Functional alcoholism? What’s that? My other friend had her biological father hitting her and killing cigarettes on her, now, that’s a story! We forget that the same events can affect other people more than other. We also never remember that even though there’s always someone who’s worse off, it’s not a reason to deny someone else the right to share their own pain. We wouldn’t like the same to happen to us when talking about our problems, now, would we?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of relationships we have these days. We’re comfortable with nice and easy. Maybe we can handle a friend telling us about a break-up but only as long as they don’t dwell on it too much. Don’t tell me about your childhood traumas, though. Nobody has time for that! I’m not saying here that we should share our emotional depths with everyone because oversharing is oversharing but is there really such a thing as oversharing with friends? Last but not least, if we’re acquaintances can we maybe sometimes give people the benefit of the doubt and understand that we’re all like icebergs rather than judge them?

The comments section is all yours, Rinsers. Why are we so harsh towards others? Why can’t we listen to someone’s story and why do we want to silence the voices of suffering?

The Opinions That Matter (And Those You Can Take With A Pinch of Salt)

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In an age dominated by social media, where everyone is an award-winning journalist or YouTube sensation, it’s easy for people to convince themselves that their opinion matters and needs to be heard. But as I always say there is an appropriate time and place for everything. Sure, an informed opinion on the state of global politics should be welcomed even if it stands in opposition to our personal beliefs. There is nothing better than a good INTELLECTUAL debate. Then there are those issues that not everyone and his dog needs to have a say on. One such place is when it comes to another individual’s romantic life and general lifestyle choices. This brings me to the topic of today’s post, when we are inundated with advice on how we are conducting our personal lives, how does one differentiate between the opinions that matter and those which are a totally waste of time.

As a 30-something chick who hasn’t ever been married or knocked up, one gets used to comments including but not limited to the following : ‘ Still single? Are you a lesbian? ‘, ‘Beggars can’t be choosers. You aren’t getting any younger, you know !’, ‘ Maybe you’d get more attention if you lost a couple of pounds!’, ‘Ooooo have you heard so-so just got divorced so he’s on the market again! Shall I set up a meeting for you guys ?’. Whether it’s your best friend who just wants you coupled up so you can double date with her and her other half or THAT aunty who is no beauty queen herself but is ever so concerned about your BMI that she’d offer to pay for you to see a dietician if only her hubby hadn’t spent their pension fund on hookers, people these days really need to take a lesson in keeping their noses out of it.

As much as we may like to tell our friends, family members, neighbours and randoms on the bus where to stick their opinions on out love life, the truth is relationships don’t exist in a bubble. At some point couples need to surface from beneath the bed covers, face the light of day and interact with other members of the human species. And while we may not be able to stop people voicing their opinions, we certainly have the power to choose whose advice we take heed of and how we let these comments affect us and our subsequent relationship choices. Here are a few factors you may want to consider when deciding who to take seriously and who to ignore:

Who are they? How well do they know you?

We all have a tendency to be a bit blind when it comes to matters of the heart. Sometimes we want something to work out so badly that we ignore the glaring red flags. The people that know us well are probably going to have a good insight into what makes us tick and therefore do have some idea of who we’d be compatible with.

Being told that the smoking hot Adonis you are dating has nothing in common with you is likely to be a hard pill to swallow. However, it’s probably a message that is better coming from your BFF who knows you better than you know yourself rather than the cash cow that helps you pay off your bond each month!

What is their motivation?

Let’s admit we can all be selfish at times. So consider the motivation behind someone’s advice/opinion. What do they have to gain from sharing their pearls of wisdom? Is this friend being a Debbie Downer about your new beau because you are her only friend in the world so she is afraid of losing you? Or has she mopped up your tears enough in the past to spot your patterns and have the foresight to know that this will only end in disaster?

People who are unhappy about their own love lives (or lack thereof) are usually the first to pipe up about another person’s flaws. That witch who questions your relationship status everytime she sees you, well let’s be honest, her marriage is probably on the rocks and she just spotted her husband flirting with you from across the room so just shake if off.

Are they speaking from experience?

So, you think you’ve caught an STD? Whose expert opinion are you going to seek on the matter – that of a medically trained Doctor or your pet parrot? Exactly! People who offer advice should know what they are talking about.

Anyone who has had their heart horrifically broken would probably do just about anything to stop it happening to someone they care about. So, if in the past you’ve wasted half a decade of your life with a deadbeat that promised you that one day he’d make it big and contribute to helping you guys getting that house in the ‘burbs, when you see your bestie going to a similar track with some douche, you aren’t going to keep quiet about it now, are you?

Comments and advice from someone older (maybe) and wiser, who has been there and done that may save you a lot of heartache in the long run whereas listening to a sad spinster who last had a physical contact with the male species over a decade ago well, that’ll probably just lead to nothing more than a dry spell in the bedroom!

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The moral of the story here…we live in a world where everyone considers themselves to be an expert on life, so take everything you hear with a pinch of salt. Understand that everyone is shaped by their own experiences and situation so question the motivation behind a person’s words. The majority of what people tell you will be nothing more than unsubstantiated BS which just reflects their own unhappiness. But then there are also those people who are willing to take a risk and be unpopular because they have your best interests are heart. However harsh their words may seem and however much it is not what you want to hear, the fact is that the sentiment behind their advice comes from a good place.

Rinsers – share your thoughts on the matter. Are you tired of people interfering in your love life? Are there people you take more seriously than others? And how do you differentiate between advice/comments that are motivated by self-interest and that which is told with the best of intentions?

Papa don’t preach – Parents don’t know best

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This post is mostly inspired by “parental control” experiences of my own and of my friends. Even though their children are not really children anymore, the parents tend to preach and to think that only THEY know what’s good for their children when it comes to love.

Most people who have been single for a while experienced the get yourself a boyfriend/girlfriend pressure from their parents’ side. Between relationships they give you a time gap of more or less three months after which they start to ask you again whether you met someone interesting. In the time when you’re single they ask you whether you’re not too picky, they remind you you’re not getting any younger, they enumerate your friends who already have families and even point at your personal traits as potential partner deterrents (“you’ve always been a bit difficult”). In doing that they don’t help you find the right partner. They make you resent them and feel bad about yourself. Bad news is that it never ends. Get a boyfriend and they’ll start to mention moving in together, then marriage and finally kids. You can never be where your parents think you should be. Even if you feel happy they’ll make you question it.

Another thing is the choice of partner which parents tend to disapprove of. The good news is that the closer you get to your 30th birthday the less pressure they put on the choice of a partner (just get one already!). You can’t be too picky if your child is a slightly-aged good that’s approaching their “sell by” date. When I was younger, however, my mother used to disapprove of my partners on silly grounds such as – comes from a small village, different nationality, a journalist (not a serious profession), must be lying about him being a doctor etc,etc. The rule seemed always the same – get someone but we both now that someone will never reach my expectations.

The most twisted things about the parents is that they do all that because they love us and THINK that what worked for them and what they think is right will work for us. Only that times have changed. We reach independence later partly because of the labour market that exploits students and young professionals, partly because every one else does. A wedding isn’t something girls write about in their diaries every day anymore. Like children we want it but  someday somehow and not right here right now. When we find someone special we want to live and experience life together but the rest isn’t a priority. After all if others are preggies only after 30 why do we have to cut our life enjoyment short? Because our parents think we should?

Parents want to help but often instead of doing that they become a nagging presence that’s never happy with what is. Maybe through their children they’re trying to sort out their own lives, maybe they can’t accept that their children are adults and actually know what is good for them and what makes them happy. They should really just chill.

So Dear Rinsers, have you experienced parental pressure and other instances of parents thinking they know what’s good for you? Share your stories.

Meet the Parents

image Meeting your partner’s parents is an unavoidable part of dating. Dreaded by most people as a job interview but differs from the latter in the respect that it’s something quite impossible to prepare for. Making a good first impression is crucial, but let’s be honest, if we’re not supposed to gel with the parents and we’re not the sort of people they would like, the first impression will quite quickly wear off.

Why is it so difficult to impress the parents? Partially, because they come from a different world which is not our “natural” socializing environment. If you’re a regular person in your late twenties, you’re rather unlikely to be hanging out with 50 years old silver foxes and vixens (unless you have a soft spot for them like our friend #englishrosiee). Therefore the skills and qualities your friends and partners may find impressive, e.g. drinking everyone under the table, burping out the whole alphabet or clapping with insides of your over-straightend elbows (guilty as charged), may not be equally admirable according to our partner’s parents values. Playing it safe and only saying what’s polite and acceptable by everyone may also not be the best option because we may end up being described as nice (even if with the quantifier “very”) which truly translates into “I don’t know what you see in this insipid girl but I can’t find anything too obviously wrong with her, after all she does have a pair of hands and legs and only one head”.

What is the key to impressing the parents or at least making them not hate us immediately? Being yourself would seem to be the best bet. Even though we think that the stress may make us slur incomprehensibly without drinking (if you’re a foreigner you can always get away with it by blaming it on your accent) or for no apparent reason stick a chopstick into our eye instead of our mouth (a bit more difficult to explain) that’s probably not going to happen. At the end of the day, we’re not going to be dating the parents (hopefully, it would be quite awkward) and they should and in most cases do understand it. All they want is for their children to be happy and if they have some weird possessiveness over their children as often happens in the case of single parents, who keep criticizing their children’s partners for the most made up reasons, the best you can do is not to let their issues become yours.

In brief, be yourself, try to behave normal and if it doesn’t make them like you remember that it’s not you it’s them 😉