Saturday, July 01, 2006
Including But Not Limited To The Following
I have a theory about dating and movies -- that much of a relationship can be determined by what movie you see as your first one together. My first date movies have included but are not limited to the following: Trainspotting, The Exorcist (it was a video -- no, I'm not old enough to have seen it in the theater), Edward Scissorhands, The Accused (for the love of Jesus, do not see this one on a first date), Personal Best, Blue Velvet, and Misery. The list could go on, but I can't. Most of these selections are enough to mess with your mind, as we used to say in those increasingly-dim years of the 80s, and not the most delightful augers for a new love.
I remember Misery the best (shock, surprise -- I like the title) -- Kathy Bates in one of her greatest roles as a psychotic fan who takes her favorite writer hostage (James Caan) and eventually hobbles him to keep him writing the stories she loves the most -- a Sheherazade in hell as it were. Stephen King writes in his book On Writing that the book was a metaphor for his drug and alcohol addiction. So Kathy was cocaine, booze, valium, xanax, and everything else he drank, snorted, or popped, the airless tomb of his dependencies. At the time I had started thinking writing was all I wanted to do, and I thought of the movie as a metaphor as the price of admission to a very exclusive club. As for my date, he'd eventually live with me and grow to dislike that side of my personality (intrigued by my "differentness," he sought to eradicate it as soon as it became inconvenient), and I learned that if I was going to do this thing right, I'd have to be both Kathy and James, the one with the ax and the victim of it if only I could get the angle right. It's harder to hobble yourself than anyone tells you.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I would have laughed if I had been the one watching. I was never the one watching, though. I was always the one these hilarious things were happening to." Larry McMurtry, All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers
1 part chambord
1 part cognac
Serve heated as an after-dinner drink.
Benedictions and Maledictions
First published in Cold Mountain Review:
A Hotel Room in Baton Rouge
On the connecting flight from Dallas to Detroit, a
woman with no teeth leaned close
and said, “I’m leaving this goddamn place. I’ve had it
with my husband.” I nodded,
unable to think of one thing to say, wishing I’d had that
at the Tex-Mex restaurant off the interstate where an
hour earlier I’d sat
with my best friend who caught me up on the latest. In
a hotel room in Baton Rouge, her
boyfriend broke down, crying because he couldn’t say “I
love you.” “I remember
how excited he used to get. Why does it always go?” she
my hair into three parts for a braid. I nodded then too,
drunk, not saying anything.
“I can’t find what I’m looking for,” she said, rummaging
around her purse before
pulling out a rubber band and tying up the loose ends
before letting me go.
Starting to sober up on the plane, I lamented not having
seat, being trapped in the middle. The woman looked at
my bare hands and sighed. “You’re so lucky,” she said. I didn’t
anything about my own situation, which required me to
and forth in long distance limbo, high phone bills, long
up wondering where I was and where I should be.
“When it starts
you never know that it’s going to end like this,” she
said. “He was my only one.”
I thought back to the first man I’d loved enough to
suffer through a pap smear
in order to get on the pill, although he left me before I
had the chance to take one.
Back then, even the scraping felt comfortable, something I
was doing for love.