I have been obsessed for the better part of a year with my mother’s half-asleep, repetitive cry during the extremely extended Fellowship of the Ring. While being forced to watch the film by my sister, my mother fell asleep after the first half hour, when Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday party is still going on. The next time she woke up, suddenly Frodo was the main character. He was pursued by men in dark cloaks with hobbit friends we’ve never seen before. As this was a bit bewildering she asked, groggily: “Where’s Bilbo?!”
And from then on, about every fifteen minutes, my mother would wake up, find more nonsensical action and unfamiliar characters on the television, and again ask, “Where’s Bilbo?” She never got an answer: she slept through Bilbo’s brief return.
My mother knew how ridiculous her question sounded, and I used this anecdote in many conversations when trying to explain how boring Lord of the Rings is. But I realize my mother has done this before: how could I forget her mantra of over a dozen years earlier? “Rub Hostetler!”
Now that I remember it, how can I explain it? To wish the New York Giants good luck during the 1991 Super Bowl, my aunt and uncle had assembled a collection of Starting Lineup action figures, including Giants quarterback Phil Simms. However, Simms was injured and not playing in the Super Bowl. His backup was Jeff Hostetler, who was not famous enough to get his own Starting Lineup action figure.
That being the case, the Phil Simms action figure received the goodwill intended for his replacement. During crucial plays, my mother stressed the importance that she and others “rub Hostetler.” she would place the figure in both of her hands and rub them together as if starting a fire. I think sometimes she blew into her hands, like dice.
I should admit, I don’t know if my mother was the one who started the Hostetler-rubbing, but she was the one who got into it the most.
So, my mother says weird things and does strange, suburban voodoo. Good for her.