Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gall Stones, Gidget, and Other Matters

Recently I spent a week in the hospital, having my gall bladder and a bunch of stones ripped out. Actually, they didn't do any ripping – the surgery was laparoscopic. But a week in the hospital is never a load of fun. I couldn't move around much. The light wasn't good for reading. And my roommate spent the week entertaining and being entertained by a constant flow of enormous crowds of friends and relatives, who spoke beautiful Spanish which I could ALMOST but not quite understand. So I watched a lot of TV. A LOT of TV. And, since the channel lineup was limited to the major networks and news channels, I ended up watching a lot of TV programs I wouldn't normally watch. And one of those programs was Madonna's extravaganza of a stage show – her "Confessions Tour" concert.

Now ordinarily, I wouldn't even know that Madonna was still around. I'm not a celebrity watcher – for the longest time, I thought Jessica Simpson was one of Homer's daughters. And I've only recently figured out who "Jen" is. I think. But, as I said, hospital TV is a great eye-opener. And when you're flat on your back in a hospital bed, and it's Thanksgiving time, too, you grab all the distraction you can latch onto. So I watched a bit of her show. Not the whole thing – I was already in quite a lot of pain – but enough to make a few observations.

First off, she still looks great. Well, that's a "natch," right? I mean if you've got a massive staff of hair dressers, makeup artists, fashion police, fitness trainers, personal assistants, maids, butlers, drivers, hot-and-cold running nannies and the like, following you around 24 hours a day, looking your best must be like falling off a log. So she's not hard to look at.

And obviously, she can still pull a crowd. She's very energetic. She was always a pretty good dancer, of course, and she's kept in shape (again, see above paragraph). She does a lot of running and jumping around, and gives a lot of spectacle bang for your concert buck – especially if you're watching her perform for free on TV.

But the routines are pretty much the same old stuff, and though it's meant to be edgy and sexy, it sort of comes across as a little bit silly and, finally, more than a little bit disturbing.

When Madonna burst upon the scene back in the 1980s, her woman-as-unmade-bed persona was different and strangely appealing. Like Cyndi Lauper, she was so unusual. She was funny and kitschy and, yes, sexy, and the music was bouncy and hum-able and you could dance to it (I'd give it an 84). And the videos – "Borderline," "Like a Virgin," "Papa Don't Preach" and the rest – were fresh and entertaining.

Well, now we're twenty years further along. Even given the fact that La Madonna was only in her twenties back in the MTV era, she's forty-something now. Pushing 50, I'd say. And the concept of a middle-aged woman writhing around on nationwide TV, bumping and grinding and being pawed by a bunch of chorus boys, while she's grabbing and stroking her private parts, isn't really sexy so much as it is just kind of sad.

It's tough to get old. Well, oldER. And I know it must be VERY tough for entertainers. Especially entertainers who've built their careers on youthful rebellion and "attitude." It's hard to be rebellious and iconoclastic when you've got so much personal material baggage to maintain. So I can see that someone like Madonna would occasionally get an itch to step back in time and show the world she can still kick up her heels a bit (as it were). But it's an itch that really shouldn't be scratched in public. And definitely not in front of a public made up of the world's adolescents. So I have some simple advice. Get yourself some Vagisil, sweetie, and GROW UP!

One more observation about the amazing things you can see on TV. Sally Field is doing commercials for Boniva, a drug to slow bone-loss in women with osteoporosis. I've always kind of liked Sally Field – she's cute and funny and reminds me of my Aunt Betty Jean. And I was a big "Gidget" fan back in the 60s. Well, Sally still looks pretty good, and still seems cute and funny and appealing in a loopy sort of way – a little like "Gidget Grows Up and Turns into a Ditzy Old Broad." However, a cute old broad. She certainly doesn't look like osteoporosis is getting her down, and I wish her well.

But there's one commercial that I keep seeing over and over, and it gets more irritating every time it shows up. It's the one in which Sally tells us a tale about her "girl friend" who has to set aside a WHOLE morning EVERY week just to take her osteoporosis medication. Poor dear.

Now to start with, I'll just have to ignore the fact that I don't really believe movie stars have such things as girl friends (colleagues, yes – personal assistants, of course – girl friends, no way). The question I really want to ask is this: Sally, have you ever actually TAKEN a PILL? Are you at all familiar with the mechanism? It works this way. You remove your pill from its container. You place it on your tongue. You take a swig of whatever expensive bottled water you favor. You throw back your head and swallow. And, voila, the pill is gone. Pouf! You've done it. And the whole operation has taken what, maybe twenty seconds?

So if this is something that your girl friend has to "set aside" time for, somebody should check her technique – she could use some pointers. Refer her to this blog.