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 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!