| 10 Apr 2008 @ 15:34, by David Bartholomew|
[excerpted from DoingIt!, June, 2006]
I just watched the movie “The Family Stone” with Joan the other night. It contained an occurence that I find common in family relationship movies-- the Oddball Cathartic Episode (O.C.E. according to Bartholomew’s Dictionary of Made-up Medical Terms).
It seems, in film, conflict must rise and rise until only the O.C.E. must, indeed, ensue to relieve the pressure, and allow all to come to love and understand one another. In this case a much-anticipated frittata is dropped, and people slip and slide and basically come out on the receiving end of a good food fight, without having had to suffer the tendenitis that the cast’s out-of-shape throwing arms might have incurred.
Everyone laughs (all the harder on their empty stomachs), and floods, famine, pestilence and hurt feelings all evaporate. The Stone’s hearts now beat as one. The end.
My family being no less odd than the Stone’s... and life imitating art imitating life as it does... I have my own version of a warm fuzzy of an O.C.E. that my own family-- me as the brother, two sisters, brother-in-law, and our dad playing themselves-- experienced, and it went down like this.
[I have yet to submit this to the Committee for Innovative Therapy in Zurich for official approval and recommendation, but I believe I can stand behind it as a true catharsis-maker.]
Long after my mom had passed pressure was building in the family. We invoked a 4th of July or other 3-day-weekend as an excuse to converge upon an innocent house in Akron, Ohio, to hash out some hard issues involving lingering, old shitty stuff (L.O.S.S.). Call it intervention or ambush by most of us, on behalf of one of us.
The face-to-face stuff occurred and went down maybe a smidge better than expected. The offended retreated to different rooms,nooks and crannies afterward to lick their wounds. But we hadn’t yet had our “frittata moment”.
Actually (for sake of this telling), let’s say one of us was lactose intolerant. So we had to work hard to find our own variation on the dish that would set things aright.
This came by way of an inspired idea to go, as a unit, to a local Go-Kart place.
It was early on a Saturday afternoon and we had the place to ourselves. The sole employee was a teen who pretty much “just worked there”, was hungover or was divinely placed to look the other way when we bent the rules into pretzels. And so the stage was set for our healing moment.
Paying in advance for about 3 or 4 uninterrupted passes apiece we set out on a hometown Jerry Bruckheimer, summer-blockbuster-caliber chase that involved so many crashes, hits, spins and thrills that Hollywood agents who got wind of it afterward began offering us millions for a sequel. Famous stunt coordinators retired in shame, as did therapists with lists of success stories longer than the skidmarks we laid down.
You might not know you have a grudge against someone before you begin targeting their car in your sights... but you damn-well feel the joy of the release of all that buried stress once you see them spinning ass over tea kettle on turn 3!
We had people going backwards on the track; building up to ramming speed a la modern-day jousters sitting on way more horsepower; and everyone of us had the biggest smiles and loudest rounds of laughter going that we had experienced in a long while.
Intervention? What intervention? Years of angst? Gone! There was no rubbing, there was no racing... just 100% release. Our oddity and irreverence served us well on that day. We were DoingIt! When the going got tough... the tough go-karted!