Jane Devin

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The Ooh-Ahh Gene Skipped a Generation

February 16th, 2008 · 14 Comments

Truly, I don’t know why anyone would invite me anywhere. I don’t find a lot of comedy funny (please don’t tell me how men & women are different again) – I don’t dance or sing at concerts (too busy listening to the band or singer) – I can usually guess the next line of a movie and predict the end (the hell of being an avid reader/writer), and I tend to notice everything a person’s not supposed to notice at a play – like sad looking ushers, and the couple three rows down, who appear to have been in an argument before the play started (I’m easily distracted).

At home, even though I subscribe to something like 90 channels, I rarely watch TV because every time I find a show I like, it either gets canceled or becomes so formulaic that it’s boring. I mean, really, how many times does Gregory House have to be right before his interns quit doubting him? If I’m going to do nothing for 30 minutes or an hour except stare at the television, then I need to be totally engrossed by what I’m seeing. . . .or too sick and bedridden to care.

All of this, of course, makes me something of a bad fan. I really don’t get the oohs-and-ahhs of entertainment. I may really like some movies and plays, but I’m not a fanatic about any of them. There’s none I would watch more than twice – including my all-time favorite film, Radio Flyer. I know there are people who’ve seen Gone With the Wind a hundred times. Like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, that kind of obsession eludes me. (You want me to put on a pink wig and usherette’s costume and do what? In public? Are you kidding me?)

And even though, outside of writing, music is my favorite art form, I can’t think of one musician I feel a need to see in concert. Music is personal to me. I enjoy letting it drift through my own house, where I can hear every lyric, and where I’m not surrounded by a few hundred or a few thousand noisy, shuffling, and distracting others. Ditto for movies, which I would rather watch while curled up on the couch.

In my prior life, I met quite a few celebrities. None were as bad as the worst gossip that surrounded them, and none were as great as their press kits made them out to be – well, except George Burns. He was totally awesome, and very much the sweetheart everybody said he was. Still, he wasn’t a God, just a very nice gentleman who played God in a movie.

20072.jpgLacking the ooh-ahh gene, I suppose I might be viewed as something of a curmudgeon, but I passed none of these traits onto my daughter. Elisabeth owns a giant screen TV, subscribes to TV Guide, and she can go into great detail about her favorite actors and musicians. She even laughs at slapstick comedy, which is something I’ve never found even remotely funny. She buys CD’s and tickets to movies and concerts nearly every week. It’s her rebellion, I think, for a nearly TV-free childhood and having to listen to the “oldies” for close to two decades. Her car has more music discs in it than I’ve owned in my whole lifetime.

Despite being raised by what she calls her “monk” of a mother, she’s also heavy into gadgets and technically savvy. While I have to concentrate to set an alarm clock properly, my daughter can send a text message on her I-phone with one hand, and get information from her Tom-Tom on the other. She owns something like a dozen cameras, all of which she claims have different purposes. She’s got digital picture frames, several game systems, two computers, and extra DVD players and stereos. She’s got an electronic car starter, the new Flip video camera, and a few different MP3 players. Her coffee table holds about eight different remote controls – and I won’t even start with the stuff she’s got in the kitchen – but does anybody really need a tool to peel an orange? Apparently, my daughter does.

All of this would be fine with me. She’s a hardworking adult with a great job, a part-time military career, and she owns her own home – complete with a wonderful fiancé, two bulldog puppies, a cat, and six fish tanks, all of which I suspect comes from being raised by a happily single, peace-loving woman with a strict one pet limit. Whoever says rebellion ends with the teens had to be kidding. I still rebel against my mother, and she died in 1996. It appears to be a life-long process, although I have to say I thought I would be the exception.

That’s right. I seriously thought I’d raise a minimalist daughter who preferred space over clutter, and manual to automatic. I thought, like me, she’d hate to travel. I envisioned us living on the same block, and taking vacations together at each other’s houses one day. Side by side, reading books, one pet per lap, drinking coffee, conversing for hours on end about philosophy or current events, and eating Chinese food out of the containers so we wouldn’t have to wash dishes.

Where did I go wrong?

The kid bought her first set of luggage at 16, and hasn’t gone longer than a month without stepping on an airplane since. She’s prefers chai tea to coffee, and has dishes for every occasion from here to Columbus Day. She can’t just sit and talk, she has to be moving – constantly. Our longest uninterrupted conversations occur when she’s buckled in the car and can only tweak the stereo dials.

When she grew up and discovered there was a world outside of Beatrix Potter, Dylan & Baez, Keds, and paper plates – when she discovered Best Buy, Ikea and Famous Footwear – there really was no stopping her.

When she learned that there were more than six pieces of furniture in the universe (bed, desk, dresser, chair, couch, table), she wanted it all. It took a few years, but now she’s got all the end tables, coffee tables, chests, cabinets, ottomans, buffets, entertainment centers, and easels that I deprived her of in her youth.

And I would be fine with all of this, I really would, if she didn’t try so hard to recruit me into her 21st century gadget-driven world of entertainment.

She knows better than to hard-sell me, so she’s sneaky. She invites me to dinner, but doesn’t tell me it’s a dinner theater. All wide-eyed innocence, she buys me a new cell phone just as I learned how to work the 2000 model. She rolls those same beautiful eyes at my dial-up internet service and convinces me that the Comcast triple-play of phone, high speed internet, and cable will save me money. She then calls me and urgently insists that I tune into to this or that channel so I can watch what she’s watching. The last time it was some show about brides gone bad.

“Why am I watching this again?”
“Because it’s funny!”
“It’s funny to see someone acting like a spoiled brat?”
Yes! Oh my god!! Did you see the look she just gave that guy?!?!?”

On my last birthday, she handed a confused and skeptical me a digital camera and told me “oh, but this one is easy to operate.” A year later, I still haven’t figured it out. She laughs. She thinks she’s got one up on me.

Will I be one-upped by the girl who doesn’t know how to peel an orange with her own fingers anymore? I think not. I am strategically planning a counter-blitz of 20th century retro gifts, including cassette tapes, Atari Pong, and a DynaTAC8000X brick cell phone, complete with giant car bag. We’ll see how far her technical skills go when she has to use a pencil to wind the twisted tape back into its case – or when her fingers move faster than the graphics on the screen. The cell phone, of course, won’t work anymore, but it will be fun to watch her try.

The monk will have her day.

Tags: Celebrities · Other Writings

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jimi // Feb 17, 2008 at 12:30 am


  • 2 Jane Devin // Feb 17, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Hi Jimi!

    Yes, our love for each other is total. She really is the center of my universe, and she must like me because she calls me several times a day just to say hi, or share whatever moment she’s having. I feel very lucky to have her, even if she does come attached with gadgets! :-)

  • 3 jimi // Feb 17, 2008 at 1:01 am


  • 4 linda woods // Feb 17, 2008 at 2:05 am

    The worst thing about concerts is all the DANCING people. What is WRONG with them? The people who sing AND dance are what keep me at home. As if I am paying all that money to listen and see them? You know I am always the one sitting right behind the singer/dancer obstructing the view.
    How many times does House have to walk with the cane on the wrong side before the continuity people GET A CLUE?
    Anyway…I am with you, sister. I still don’t know how to answer call waiting on my cell phone or how to text with punctuation. But, I do like to travel. I just prefer to travel to lands where there are no people and where internet access and water are easy to get :)
    Though, I must disagree with my beautiful pseudo-niece. The problem with getting the cable/internet/phone combo is if you miss one payment ALL THREE get turned off. Not good.
    There is life beyond paper plates? WHAT???

  • 5 Patty G. // Feb 17, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Jane, I can read me in your words and see my son in your daughter. Just recently my son asked me to go online at exactly 9:59 AM and start the race to get tickets to the VanHalen concert. I said: “What for?” He tells me this is a big concert as they have not been in concert for 20 years. I said” “so!” I told him I have only been to one concert in my 60 years of life and have managed to make it through. I shared with him the day Elvis had his big concert in Hawaii and it was televised. I turned on my black and white TV and adjusted the wire hanger on top of my TV and stood up the entire concert in my living room and was just as happy. Then when I got a color TV, and there was a rerun of the concert I was just as thrilled and it cost me nothing.

    Before 9:59 AM arrived, my son called me to tell me not to worry as someone else was going to get the tickets as more people wanted to go. My son asked me “Mom, why didn’t you ever go to more concerts, or even go to a movie once in a while especially a movie as I never remember you going to one?” I said: “Scott, it’s because I was a single mother at the age of 20, raising you, working, keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table.” There was silence. I think he got it!

  • 6 Sharon // Feb 17, 2008 at 10:08 am

    I think I’d like to know both of you. Good luck on the one-up-man-ship.

  • 7 Lonnie // Feb 17, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I love when you write about your daughter! It’s obvious you two are very close, even if so different. I still laugh about the time she got back from Iraq and immediately wanted to take you to yoga and an eyebrow waxing. You two must laugh alot!

    Like you, I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom, and also like you I’m deteremined to change the course of that history when or if I have kids.

    I have seen Bridezilla, though, and have to agree with you. Not funny to see grown women throwing tantrums! LOL.

  • 8 allison // Feb 17, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Wonderful to hear about you and Elisabeth!
    It is amazing how our children manage to be exactly who THEY are regardless of how we try to impress things upon them.
    I do think you are onto something about the rebellion thing.
    My Mother was a clean fanatic.
    The expression “you could eat off her floors” had to have been from her! My job was to clean the kitchen, and the dishwasher had to be loaded just so.
    In fact the dishes were pretty much already clean before we put them in. There was always something that needed to be moved or changed by her in order for proper cleanliness to occur.
    Well I have had all the training, and how do you think my house is?
    Well it isn’t dirty…but it sure isn’t organized!
    I rebel for days at a time, leaving clutter everywhere, until I can’t stand it, then turn into Mom, and clean like crazy.
    And gosh, I am one of those annoying singer/dancers at concerts. For me, I just can’t contain myself from the joy I get from both.
    I don’t over do it, I sing quietly to myself, but I am just driven to do it.
    The one thing I did catch from my parents was the travel bug. Dad was in the military so we moved around alot, so I really have that desire to see and experience new places.
    As long as you are living life, enjoying things together, thats what really matters.

  • 9 Cynthia // Feb 17, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Well yes, gadget love skipped a generation, but compassion did not. Your beautiful creature of busyness is also a wonderful medic who volunteered for duty during Hurricane Rita and the worst of Iraq. She’s also, I understand, now a volunteer fire fighter.

    She might prefer a noisy concert over a night of reading, Jane, but she’s still got your spirit of volunteerism. I’ll never forget how much you tried to help the sister whose sister was murdered. You went through hell and back to do that, invested all of your time and resources, and bore all of the criticism, threats and backstabbing with incredible strength and dignity. Most people would have folded. You stood up for someone who could no longer stand up for themselves, and in the process endeared Terry to many people. You are courageous, and a true blue kind of woman. I am proud to know you, even through the internet!

    Now, as for gadgets, I love them! The picture on top could be my desk if you added an array of filters, a Palm Pilot, and a few dozen other toys! I also love my kitchen gadgets, although I don’t have an orange peeler. Hmmmmm. I may have to get one of those. :-)

    Really, Jane, dig out the digital again and this time read the instructions! It’s not so hard! Once you’ve conquered that, I think you can easily move up to videos. I’d love to see you in one of those on your blog! You can show us what a monk’s house looks like, and read us poetry from that one chair you allow yourself to have. LOL.

  • 10 RosieFan // Feb 17, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I wondered how Rosie’s kids would be without computers, tvs,& such, & I think Alison hit the nail on the head! Kids just grow up to be who they are, & when reared well they become best their capable of being, no matter where talents and passions lead them.

    I am lucky to be close to mine too, & blessed by their love every day!

  • 11 Laurie // Feb 18, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Jane, is there anybody you would feel starstruck meeting?

    I’m a lot like you in that I don’t understand why autographs/pics are so important to people, and I certainly wouldn’t chase anyone down for one, but I have to say that if I met some of my favorite singers in person, I’d be starstruck, and probably speechless!

    Is there anybody that gives you that kind of thrill?

  • 12 Jane Devin // Feb 18, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I think all of my heroes are dead, Laurie. I can’t think of anyone living that I would be starstruck by, but there are a few from the past, and they are mostly writers that somehow helped me find a course in life, or who helped define humanity for me.

  • 13 freida // Feb 18, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Well let’s see, I met all of the ‘Cartwrights’ even Adam.
    I met Fess Parker and rode on his shoulders when I was 10.
    He was Daniel Boone.
    I met Art Linkletter and got to see his artwork at a very exclusive showing, just his family and mine.
    I met Franky Avalon, and realized a long, long time ago…
    Movie stars are just people, too.
    Art was so sweet, and reminds me of my daughter’s piano teacher.

    Dear Jane,
    I think I would be more intimidated to meet you.
    Although, I know you’re a real person, too.
    Just wonder what you ‘know.’

    Gosh, being a parent is so, darn scary…
    Art knew.

    Breaks my heart.

  • 14 Donna Faber // Mar 12, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I’m glad you had a daughter. I’m glad I had a daughter. She will undoubtedly be a child of this world. She loves technology, and as a result, thinks very fast. Sometimes I think we have our children to show us things we can’t see ourselves.

    Thank the Goddess for that, I say.


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