Friday, July 21, 2023

Mom Says: 'Don’t Make a Scene!'

Thousands of actors in Hollywood and New York went on strike a couple of weeks ago, joining the screenwriters guild, which began walking the picket line back in May. The production of all movies and TV shows has ground to a halt. 

Oh no! What am I going to do for entertainment? Wait, I know. I’ll just catch up on decades of classic films that are way better than anything Hollywood has made recently, plus hundreds of old TV series that I can stream online. In other words, I’m not losing any sleep right now over the strike. 
It occurred to me that all the famous Hollywood actors are finally taking my mother’s advice. One of my mom’s favorite comments, which she said to us about a billion times, was, “Don’t make a scene!” 

Even though I put an exclamation point at the end of that quote, my mom usually said those words in a barely audible voice, and through clenched teeth, with fire in her eyes and the veins in her neck bulging. You see, my clan, the Irish-Catholics from New Haven, had an obsession about not making a scene, especially in public.

Here’s an example: when we were young, we often would join the other neighborhood kids climbing trees. If one of us fell out of a tree, which caused an elbow to bend the wrong way or blood to spurt out of a gash on our head, we would go running home screaming, “Mom! Mom!”  By the time we reached the front door of our house, our mom would already be stepping outside asking, “What’s the matter?”

As soon as she noticed that all the other moms in the neighborhood were stepping out of their front doors asking the same question, she would look at us sternly and say in a loud whisper, “Don’t make a scene!” Then she would usher us into the house and perform her Magical Mom Medical Maneuvers: setting the broken bones and/or staunching the flow of blood. My memory might be a little foggy. Maybe it was just putting some ice on a bruise and/or a Band-Aid on a scrape. But my memory is not foggy about the “Don’t make a scene!” comment. All of my kin heard that expression countless times.
I guess it’s not surprising that none of my relatives ever went into show business. The idea of purposely making a scene was simply out of the question. Whenever my mom told me, “Don’t make a scene!” I usually was angry or frustrated or hurt or frightened. At the time, being told to stifle my emotions was painful, so I vowed if I ever had kids, I would not treat them the same way. And it turns out I kept my vow. Instead of telling my kids, “Don’t make a scene!” a billion times, I only said it a million times. Progress.

Nowadays, I kind of wish many people in our society would follow the example of the Screen Actors Guild or listen to my mom; that is, I wish they would stop making a scene. In our current social media, TikTok video, look-at-me, narcissistic culture, there are way too many folks who are convinced that making a scene, especially in public, is a great thing.

But if I think the situation might get better, I’ve got another think coming. (Yet another of my mom’s favorite expressions.) For those of us convinced the “make a scene” people can’t get any worse, here’s some bad news: next year is a presidential election year. Ugh, the look-at-me narcissists will be out in full force. 
Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians went on strike, too?

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