Sometimes You Get The Bear

And sometimes the bear gets you.

Before we go any further, there are spoilers in this post.

If you are watching the series The Bear (or are planning to watch The Bear) and you haven’t seen the Ice Chips episode, then please read no further. Unless you don’t mind spoilers, then come on in. Also, is it appropriate to put the episode names in italics?

I’m going to talk about something else for a minute so that people don’t accidentally see something before they read the spoiler alert. This has nothing to do with The Bear, but rather a recent epiphany I had.

You know how there have been times in your life where you are waiting in a line or maybe in a doctor’s office for an appointment and you are near an old person who wants to chat? And they try really hard to be relatable, but end up being a little cringe-y or just “old people” adorable?

I think Randy and I have crossed that line. We’re the olds now. At least Randy is. Probably me as well.

Anyway, I think it is appropriate, as olds, that we do our best to keep the fuck up. You know, be a little less adorable and a lot less cringe-y.

Like today, when Randy was in a new pizza place grabbing a few slices for us. I watched from the car as he chatted with the owner (who was much younger than we are) and thought “for all that is holy, sweetheart. Stop talking.”

When he came out, I asked him about it. He told me that he was telling them about going to the dispensary this morning and then something about music. I’m sure it was mostly adorable and only a little cringe-y. But that was the moment that I realized that we have definitely crossed over.

You think that is enough space? Can we move on to The Bear?

If you haven’t seen this series yet, I really recommend it. It can be tense and there is soooo much yelling, which usually puts me off. But for whatever reason, I process it pretty well.

I have been moved by this show a number of times, but the Ice Chips episode just gutted me.

Watching an adult child deal with her difficult (bat shit crazy) parent while she is in labor was a journey. Jamie Lee Curtis is fucking stellar as the mother, Donna. Abbie Elliot is poignant and beautiful as Natalie, the daughter in labor. Natalie had been estranged from her mother. After going into labor while buying paper towels, and not being able to get ahold of anyone else, she called her mother.

Watching the dynamic between these two women is fascinating. Donna so desperately tries to help her daughter, but her approach is misguided and abrasive, while Natalie can’t get past her anger and won’t accept her help.

The way they shot the hospital scene was mostly close ups of their faces. Natalie is annoyed by her mother telling stories about herself and it shows. But as time goes on, she starts to listen to her mother. She listens to her stories. Her mother allows her to express her resentment and anger that had built up over the years without recrimination.

This episode was relatable in so many ways. Mostly uncomfortable and painful, but still relatable.

I saw myself in Donna, trying to alleviate the tension and the pain by making inappropriate jokes. Something I have done so many times. Something I still do. Watching it in this episode, I saw the perspective of how that behavior isn’t always helpful or appropriate. Or how many times have I shifted the attention to me or my stories when it was my turn to shut up and listen?

I saw myself in Natalie telling her mother the ways she was injured by her. I recognized every injury. Natalie told her mother that she was afraid of her. And the pain that caused her mother was palpable, but Donna never wavered. She didn’t defend herself. She didn’t make excuses. I would have killed for a moment like that with my father. One moment where he allowed me the space to tell him how terrible it was without recrimination. Okay, not killed. That is hyperbole. Unless it was like one of those carpenter ants that we get in our house every spring. I would definitely kill one of those motherfuckers. Because I am a monster. At least to ants. I hope only to ants.

Natalie tells her mother that she feels like people are mad at her all the time and that she asks people if they are all right way too much. She says if someone around her feels sick, that she starts to feel sick and alone. And ugly or like she is in trouble. She tells her mother how exhausting it is to feel the way she feels.

I feel all those things all the time. I always feel like I’m in trouble. I constantly ask the people I love the most if they are okay even though I fucking know I am driving them crazy by asking. If someone around me is sad or angry or doesn’t feel well, I feel the same things.

I don’t know many things for sure, but having an abundance of empathy is not a goddamn gift. It just isn’t.

I often feel alone. I used to feel ugly a lot. Maybe I still do? I just don’t care the way I used to. Getting older can be a relief in some ways. Being able to let go of some of that is a relief. Because Natalie was so right. It is goddamn exhausting to feel those ways.

I pretty much ugly cried through the whole episode. My head pounded and my nose ran like a faucet for an hour, but it was worth it. It wasn’t fun feeling all those things, but it was beneficial. I know the characters are just characters, but someone wrote that dialogue. So someone understands how all that feels.

Watching that scene and hearing those words made me feel less alone. It made me feel heard. It made me feel less broken.

Anyway, it meant a lot to me, so I thought I would pass it along to you.

I wish nothing more for you all to be healthy and happy. And while I am here, I have a question.

Are you okay?







4 Thoughts.

  1. Having lived your entire life listening, it’s your turn to do the cute old lady stuff. Just keep it short. When you start seeing the dazed and distant look in someone’s eyes, it’s time to wrap it up. But whatever you say (write) is often hilarious, so keep it coming and don’t worry about being ‘with it’. You’ve earned the right to impart old lady wisdom. You had to sit though it when you were young, now it’s their turn to do the listening. And if they eye roll, fuck ’em.

  2. What Barbara M said.
    Yeah, I’m okay, except that my right hand is feeling kinda numb and tingly and it’s making it hard to hold onto a guitar pick, oh wait, what were you saying about hijacking the conversation to make it stories about yourself?
    I’ve never owned a television, so I don’t know anything about television shows, and spoilers don’t apply. Except for the cat. He is definitely spoiled.
    I’m glad you got something meaningful out of the show; the folks who made it must have done something right.

  3. Never heard of The Bear, however the story about Randy talking I can relate to as I often look at Tim and think stop talking, you are holding that person up and they don’t give a rats ass about whatever dribble you are rambling on about.

  4. So I started watching The Bear and stopped after episode 1. Which I thought was great and I really liked it but, well, things happen. Distractions come up. I will get back to it which is why I skipped all the spoilers.
    As for doing old people stuff, you know, it probably says something about me that I crave that kind of personal interaction these days. And I guess a lot of old people are too so it works out.

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