An Essayby Lynn Ahrens
It’s a Gray February morning in 1998. From the shower, I hear the phone ring; a moment later my husband, Neil, thrusts the receiver into the steam.
“Come on,” I whine, squinting through shampoo. “Can’t you just take a message?”
“Not this time,” he says.
I swipe suds from my eyes and take the phone gingerly, hoping not to be electrocuted. “Hello?”
“Hi. This is Gretchen Van Benthuysen from the Asbury Park Press. Have you heard the news?”
“I’m in the shower. It’s not even eight o’clock.”
“You’ve been nominated for two Academy Awards—Best Song and Best Score.”
I burble thank-yous, dance my husband and my cat around the bathroom, soap bubbles flying, and race to call my mother.
“How wonderful!” she cries. “It’s an honor just to be nominated!”
And there it is—the “pinprick in the bubble of joy”—my mother’s special way of protecting me from life’s inevitable disappointments. What was I thinking?
We’re up against the biggest movie of all time, James Cameron’s two-hundred-million-dollar behemoth; it’s got a hit song, “My Heart Will Go On,” sung by the steel-voiced Celine Dion, that’s been wailing across the airwaves every thirty seconds for months.
We’re up against Titanic. And we’re going to lose.