The Mother of All Fans

Natalie Portman has hemorrhoids.

I don’t know that for sure. I’m just guessing, because she’s pregnant and I’m a new mom and that makes me love her all the more.

Like many celebrities, all Portman had to do to win me over was get pregnant. It’s that easy. Where before she was just a tiny thing with tiny pores and an air of remoteness and inaccessibility, that’s all changed. Now, I’m pretty sure her nether regions are itching and swollen. And I like that.

Rationally, I understand that her pregnancy hasn’t categorically changed her personality. (Never met the woman, but like most of us, I have unilateral relationships with celebrities that toggle between quietly snide judgment and adolescent reverence.) But motherhood is such an equalizer that even the Black Swan will likely get cankles, varicose veins, bleeding gums, gas, leg cramps and insomnia. No way can she assign the hemorrhoids or any of the rest of it to a personal assistant or publicist. That baby will have to come out of her one way or the other.

With Oscar time around the corner, I find myself rooting for the home team. It’s simple. Just like I’m from San Francisco and I root for the Golden State Warriors, no matter how much they suck, now that I’m a mother, I can’t help but feel like these women are representing for my home town, the place where pacifiers, nasal aspirators and spent tubes of Balmex live. It’s not Paris, but it’s where I live now, and I’ll buy the jersey of anyone playing for me. While I didn’t give much thought to Portman before, now that I’ve reproduced, that’s my girl. The same can be said for the other nominated moms.

There’s four-time Oscar nominee and mother of four Annette Bening, who plays a cool spiky-haired lesbian mom in “The Kids Are All Right.” There’s also Nicole Kidman, a mother of two adopted children, one biological child and a new baby born via surrogate. Her performance in “Rabbit Hole” involves losing a toddler son. (Are you kidding me? Someone with a baby had to go through that, even just play-acting? Give her the statue.) Don’t forget Melissa Leo in “The Fighter,” who plays a mother of nine, including two boxers — one of them a crack addict — and seven crazy-haired, thick-accented, boozy sisters. And then there’s Amy Adams, also from “The Fighter,” who totes around her new baby in between award-season appearances. I’m also rooting hard for Michelle Williams, a real-life single mom who plays a frazzled, overworked mother in “Blue Valentine.”

When it comes to capturing the hearts of moms, having a kid is the best PR move an actress can make. Or adopting one, that’s just as effective. Because even if you are a cold, conniving, selfish narcissist, we will imbue you with all of the characteristics we want mothers to have — warmth, selflessness — and maybe even the dark ones we have ourselves — fatigue, overwhelm, confusion and even moments of grief for the carefree lives we had before.

Now back to Natalie Portman’s rear.

Team evolution, well, let’s just say fertility always has a winning season. So while it’s nothing special to procreate, if it’s happened to you in the recent past, you know what it is to squeeze into an empire-waist dress and hope your boobs don’t leak. You know what it is to absentmindedly rest your hand on your bump, as Portman does these days. You know what it’s like to win a Golden Globe and make a speech blathering on about the new life you’re creating with your choreographer baby daddy you met on the set of a ballet thriller. OK, that gets too specific, but you feel me. If you’re a mom, you feel me. You feel me like she feels that fetus kicking her right in the rib, because you’ve been there.

So come Oscar night, I’ll be sitting down with my baby, my customary tub of caramel corn and my picks. No matter how many children they have or are about to have, I’m pointing a foam finger at my imaginary team and betting with my heart, ’cause I’m the mother of all fans.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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