Julie, Julia, The Country Doctor and Me

August 19th, 2009

A few nights ago, near the end of the Country Doctor and my post bi-continental nuclear fall-out catastrophe, I drug him to go and see Julie and Julia with me. It was part of his penance for being such a blood soaked zombie from the pit of hell during our recent European vacation. I also made him shop for new dress pants which he desperately needed.  I gleefully forced him to try on nine different pairs and his suffering was so severe that he almost went into cardiac arrest in a J.C. Penney’s dressing room, but I held my ground remaining stoic, ruthless, and completely unmoved by his pain as I handed him pair after pair of pants to try on.

“Please stop bringing me more pants to try on…” he begged.

“Did you stop at Le Grand Palais along the Champs Elysees and let me look at it for more than twenty nine seconds?”  I asked.

“No…” he whispered. 

“Did you pause to let me wander for an hour or so among the medieval neighborhoods outside of Notre Dame?”  I questioned.

“I… I… I… no…” he cried.  

“Did you notice how I longed to walk among the breathtaking flower stalls or stop for a second and browse at the gloriously gorgeous street markets?”

“No…” he gasped… “I didn’t…”

“That’s right!  Now get in that dressing room and TRY ON THESE PANTS!”

I showed him no mercy and I took no captives. I told him that if he could drag me all over England and Paris as if I were an old, worn out, duffel bag slung over his shoulders, than he could damn well spend a Sunday afternoon with me at the gates of purgatory, shopping for new pants and seeing a chic flick. He meekly agreed.  After we found some pants, I hoisted him onto my shoulder and carted him into Target, a store that the Country Doctor loathes with every fiber of his being.

I am not sure why he hates Target so much, but I think it has to do with the fact that Target makes people feel joyful, giddy and happy to be shopping in their store. Target lacks the harshly lit, institutional atmosphere of Wal-mart where all the customers shuffle like the recent dead from aisle to aisle having lost their will to live the minute they passed the greeter/sticker /lady/man.  The Country Doctor does not want to be happy when he is shopping. He wants to be miserable and he resents any store that attempts to change his outlook.  He is a Wal-Mart guy, through and through.  I am a Target girl all the way down to my toe-nails. This fact alone should have made us re-consider ever making the sacred marriage pact.   I truly believe that an individual’s preference for Target vs. Wal-mart should be on all church approved marriage quizzes and a part of all pre-marital counseling programs.  If both members of the couple have a strong preference for the same store, odds are, they will avoid many future problems.  

At Target, I quickly purchased  a few forgotten school supplies for my kids and although I should have, I did not allow myself to drag my husband on a leisurely stroll though the bedding aisle because the Country Doctor was gasping for breath and had grown cold and clammy to the touch from prolonged shopping exposure.  Sadly, at this point in our lives, he is still worth more to me alive and although I was dancing with delight in his agony, it did not quite make enough sense to me to kill him.  We grabbed a few snacks for the movies and headed out.

During our drive to the theater, we had to try and stash our snacks on our persons. We managed to tuck two bottles of soda inside my small purse while the Country Doctor hid a bag of nut clusters and a pack of Rolos in one of the pockets in his cargo shorts. We bought out tickets and tried to look innocent and like we would be highly unlikely candidates to harbor twelve hundred dollars (in movie currency) of illicit candy contraband in our clothing.  

So basically even though we looked stricken with guilt for harboring candy with criminal intent and also stricken with despair for having just returned from the worst and most expensive vacation of our lives, no one noticed us and we made our way to our seats.














I really thought this film (which is Julie and Julia by the way in case you forgot by now) would have the same draw as a foreign film… or an art film… or a Miss Marple film… and no one except for me and the Country Doctor would be there. But I was wrong. We barely managed to find two seats together which was lucky given that our current marital state was somewhere between brittle to excruciatingly sore and tender and sitting apart during a two hour movie might have spelled the end for us.

The movie was great. The audience laughed uproariously at Julia and her husband’s well crafted lines. Nora Ephron wrote the screen play and it is wonderfully done. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are marvellous in their roles as Julia and Paul Child. Most of Julia Child’s story is set in Paris and though Mike and I both stiffened into corpse-like creatures when we were forced to look at the city of our grisly demise, it was still a stunning backdrop to a lovely story.

There is also a ‘contemporary’ story line going on at the same time that Julia’s story is unfolding. Julie Powell is a blogger that attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. Her story line wasn’t bad, but it was not even remotely as compelling as what was happening to Julia Child in 1950′s Paris.  Perhaps it is just impossible for anyone to shine in the face of the powerful combination of Meryl Streep playing Julia Child.  I could almost feel sorry for actress Amy Adams as she portrayed Julie Powell while being juxtaposed alongside one of the great actresses of our time playing one of the great icons of our time. Except that I couldn’t feel sorry for Julie Powell  because I was sickened by her.

You see… the whole point of dragging my husband to that movie was to make him suffer.  My plan was that he would see a blogger in action… a blogger passionately writing about her life… a blogger whose blog begins to mean a great deal to her… a blogger who creates a little corner of the universe for herself with her blog… and of course a blogger who turns her blog in to a best-selling book and eventually a block-buster movie starring Meryl Streep… and then as he watched the movie, he would have some kind of epiphany and suddenly all my efforts as a blogger would be as meaningful to him as they are to me!  

But instead Julie Powell as portrayed in the movie was just plain annoying… and irritating… and self absorbed… and she portrayed her husband in a manner that he did not wish to be portrayed… and she whined… and had no inner strength… and I felt nothing for her.

On the other hand…

Julia Child was strong… and vibrant… and took life by the throat and de-boned it and trussed it up in a glorious, golden duck l’orange… and she took lemons and made a shimmering lemon chiffon pie… and everyone that ever met her adored her… even the French people adored her. Who wouldn’t love Julia! I love Julia! Everyone loves Julia! She worked so hard. She never gave up! For eight long years she strived (strove? strivened?) and cooked and heaved and hoed and the smile never left her face.

And she was childless and it broke her heart…

…and then the movie took us back to the other girl… the blogger… who did not have even a fingernail clipping of Julia’s life force flowing through her veins. 

So my plan failed. It failed abominably. Instead of the Country Doctor learning that bloggers are hard working, contributing, vital people that need to be appreciated, supported and encouraged, he learned that bloggers are weak, pathetic, self absorbed dingbats.





I think he knew that already.




A few great Julia Child links - 

Click here for a great Julia Child article at Vanity Fair

Click here to watch Julia Childs The French Chef on PBS.org