Monday, July 03, 2006

Hollywood Doesn't Go For Booze and Pills!


My childhood friend Curtis used to have parties where no more than five people ever showed up. He'd work for days on the decorations, the mixed tapes, the menu, the invitations, and the old faithful would appear, but nobody else. I sat dressed up (invitations had specified "Dress Festive!") in the same house that I went to almost every week except now I was surrounded by lavish works of decorative art and three or four other friends who had doomed looks on their faces. His mother, a woman who looked like an older Liz Taylor gone to seed, would swoop in with her heavy eye-shadow and a long caftan to see if we needed anything. Her glass penguin collection eyed us from the curio cabinet. A gun or some booze, I was thinking, but we were each given some margarita-flavored wine coolers as a treat, not enough to get a mouse drunk, much less people used to downing Everclear and grape Kool-Aid. These parties would start out hopeful until it became a lament of sadness, and Curtis would swear that there would never be another one. We could only hope.

Years later, I saw the movie The Boys in the Band, based on a play by Matt Crowley, much in the spirit of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (a great movie to show when you have a couple whose relationship is on the rocks over for drinks). I saw the movie with a friend in my duplex in Texas, where we sweltered in a living room (the air unit was in the bedroom and sounded like a 747 taking off) and drank gin and tonics while we watched the characters plan and enact a Curtis-like party (except it was a birthday party with six gay men instead of just two), complete with the claustrophobia of a small group of people who know each other way too well. Fear of turning thirty and losing sex appeal was expressed as a "virus in the blood" (this was well before AIDS) and the party culminates in the telephone game, a painful adult version of truth or dare where each of the men at the party is required to call someone he really loves (the call counts as one point), tell him he loves him (two points) and so on. One of the least sympathetic characters, a dead ringer for Art Garfunkel with terrible acne, keeps yelling "One point!" Most people I know who have seen this movie hate it for lots of valid reasons -- its rather depressing view of homosexuality, the deathly slow pace, the fact that all the action takes place in a one very small apartment in New York. I loved it, though, because it brought back all those lonely parties in Mineral Wells and the late night discussions that could have rivalled the telephone game for their pathos and drama. When we got to close to anyone's specific truth, we'd pull back and pretend that we could be anyone we wanted instead of exactly who we were, that things would be different for all of us this time, next year.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"I have lost something. ... But you know what? It's never too late to get it back." Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), American Beauty

A Small Party

one shot of vodka
one television
one television dinner (preferably served on a tv tray)

Benedictions and Maledictions

Dear Hopeless in Bloomfield Hills:

I'm so glad that you are thinking about taking the month off from your married boyfriend to see what happens. It's going to require a high tolerance for pain -- like everything you get used to, giving something up involves a period of withdrawal that makes the break seem like a really bad idea. What I can tell you is that this doesn't last long and a month is incredibly short in the scheme of things, but long enough to make you think about what the situation really is. You write that your "friend" (I'm not sure this word applies, but I'll go with it) wants to wait for his wife's birthday as to not ruin it. You've been in this for three years -- I'm sure he's always got a great excuse as to why he can't leave -- it's Christmas, her parents are visiting, it's his birthday, her birthday, Flag Day, well, you get the idea. His strategy is fairly simple -- keep the status quo going for as long as possible by constant delay and distract you from projecting into the future because if you did, you'd see that he would like to keep things the same as they are. (By the way, what do you do in your spare time when he's not around?) As Robin pointed out, what's in it for him to change the situation? An economic downturn to be sure, added stress of a divorce, (are there children involved?), and so on. Of course, you would both have a chance at an authentic relationship with each other. Have you ever considered the possibility that your relationship with him is as much dependent on the wife as hindered by her? Please keep checking in with your progress, and I assure you that Woody Allen isn't hard to understand at all! He's had plenty of messy situations in all his movies -- Match Point is just the latest. Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters all deal with the topic as well. If anyone on the comment board wants to weigh in on the situation, feel free!

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. I bust my butt on the "hopeless" caper, Michelle, and she's still seeing hot dog man? I don't believe it. Your froggy must and will call you about this.

Anonymous said...

I will call after the 4th, or try to. I think July 5th also figures in The Great Gatsby, but that's another story, perhaps the greatest of all.

Anonymous said...

Was Jay Gatsby the victim of his historical and emotional milieu, or the agent of his own destruction?

Anonymous said...

This is the "one size fits all" school of literary criticism.

Anonymous said...

Stay tuned for tomorrow's great 4th of July quote.

Anonymous said...

Is that an Elvis Dress? I told you to stay away from that GD Jap Prime Minister, didn't I??????

cindy said...

Michelle,
I adore today's post and that dress. Where do you make such finds? Cute! Well, let's see if the Old Man and the Sea calls you. Oy veh! Your volunteer bodyguards are standing by -- 'though I've no doubt you can handle the old crab yourself (well-aimed kick). Also, perfect advice for Ms. Lost. We might have to send a search party with party favors. You go, Daisy!
xo;)
Cindy Cobb

paul said...

Howdy Cajun queenie,
wowza, holy mackrel, wish i was at one of those parties. hollywood don't go for booze and pills, but i would! what a get-up! Yo got my vote.

R2 C2!

Sheila said...

michelle,
nice post today! No problem about the angela thing. I read eriks blog and went to leave a comment and saw that and it just mad me really mad, she must have low self esteem. Hope you have a nice fourth!

Anonymous said...

Good irony, Jim. Simultaneously, sad.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I can count my friends on one hand. Our parties are few, one a year perhaps, but never dull. Why? Because we're all married and not waiting for some new person to appear and entertain us. If, by chance, someone new does show, they're included in the conversations.
--Jim

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Jim,

Are you kidding? That's all the married people I know do -- wait for their single friends to show up with their crackpot stories! But I'm with you -- small parties are the best, no question.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Huh? Did I say we wait around for our single friends? No. Michelle, as I recall from once being single, the parties you describe in your blog are for ALL SINGLE PEOPLE. Why else would there be such anticipation? Such hope? Everyone's trying to meet someone. I'm not bashing being single, and I hope you're not bashing being married. Your friend, Jim.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Jim,

No married bashing here, I promise! All I meant by the comment was that most of my married friends joke about waiting for their single friends to come around with the inherent drama to liven up a party, the kind of crazy stories that accompany the tragedy that is dating. I would write more about parties that married people I know have thrown, but much of that material involves incriminating facts that I have been told to never tell! Anyway, the parties you describe sound lovely and here's to happy people, married and single, and even better drinks! Cheers, m

JR's Thumbprints said...

You got that right, Michelle, about incriminating folks. Don't want to spoil a partnership. Maybe that's why I'm a mediocre writer. --Jim

Michelle's Spell said...

Jim,

Don't ever ever call yourself mediocre. You're great! But I know what you mean about the difficulties of what you can and can't write about. It's a tough line to walk -- I've ruined a few relationships over it. But I've also been on the other side of it (being written about) which I've always enjoyed even though I've had bulimia, an abortion, and been reduced by five inches (only the last one bothered me!) among other fictional tragedies. I can see the first two, but come on, can't I at least be 5'5? Happy writing always, m