Sunday, September 19, 2010

Magnolia Dreams

Last night, my daughter and I escaped all our obligations and went to the movies. We saw Easy A, one of those high-school-is-a-wretched-society movies, a sort of Mean Girls meets Saved, but not quite as dark as the latter, which I loved. Loosely referencing The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Easy A tells the story of Olive Prendergast, a girl who pretends to lose her virginity and becomes the talk of the school. Her newfound notoriety is entertaining at first, not so much later. The plot gets all twisty when Olive agrees to pretend-sleep with a boy who is being bullied daily for being gay. He thinks the rumor that he did it with the school slut will earn him the stud card and allow him some peace.

Soon all manner of outcast boys are trying to get in on the pretend action with Olive. But even as she plays the scandal princess with relish, going so far as to pin cut-out As on her bustiers, Olive is still a virgin with a crush on the boy who inspired the pretend-you-did-it idea back in grade school during a game of spin the bottle. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson play Olive's wildly inappropriate and quirkily supportive parents, wringing out a few good laughs. They're fine actors caught in a formulaic high school rom com but they commit totally. My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie for what it was.

Afterward, my girl wanted visit Magnolia Bakery, so we walked two blocks to Columbus Avenue at 69th Street to buy the famous cupcakes. As usual, there was a long line inside the store, but thankfully, at that hour, 10:30 pm, it didn't spill out onto the street and around the corner, as it usually does. As we stood in line, my daughter looked around happily, taking in the shabby chic soda shop decor, the worn painted-wood floor, the lace curtains, the scuffed white wood counters and antique cake displays.

She nudged me excitedly when she caught sight of someone in the back icing a new batch of cupcakes and sculpting in the signature swirl.

I swear there was light coming off her, she was so thrilled to be in that place. The boy behind the counter noticed it too, because with that long line of patrons he paused to pay particular attention to my girl, who of course did the ordering. After we had paid and were walking out the store, my daughter reflected how cool it would be to work there, and before you knew it, she had turned back to ask the manager how old one needed to be to work there. "Sixteen," he said, and with that, my daughter literally skipped out the store, a plan taking shape in her mind.

"You really love this, don't you?" I said.

"It's the only thing I stay passionate about," she answered. "I've wanted to be a dancer, then a clarinetist, then an art director, then a photographer, and all that faded, but my passion for food stays. I don't necessarily want to be a chef, and I definitely don't want to be a nutritionist, but I think I might want to do something with food."

To be clear, she loves the fun and artistry and performance and escape of food, especially the pastry arts, which is why she was so firm on not majoring in nutrition in college. "I'd sooner do the anthropology of food, or else maybe I would study film or something," she said on the way home. "I've been trying to figure out what to major in at college."

It is so fascinating, watching your child figure out who they want to be, how they want to use this life they have been given. It is a delicate, sacred thing and can't be rushed.


  1. i'm hearing great things about this movie! thanks for this recommendation. glad to hear you and your daughter are having a wonderful time together!

  2. Hey, C, i wouldn't call the movie great, but certainly diverting to watch, especially if your company is 16 year old girl. We had fun.

  3. what an amazing relationship you have with your daughter.
    She is free to be true to herself because of your love and support no doubt.

  4. ah, deb, she is a rather spectacular child. she is easy to parent. she came here that way, I think. i feel blessed.