Books and movies have the magical ability to sweep us away to other lands and interesting times. We become people better than our everyday selves, spurring ourselves on to bigger and better things. Some stories leave us weeping. We know it and yet we love them. Some chick flicks leave me wanting as I was an actual participant in my marriage and not the rescued by a prince sort of girl. Perhaps maybe I should have gone for the rescued thing–I’d be remarried and unworried about a future spouting obscenities at passersby from my box home on a sidewalk in New York City. With a cat. And shoes. And a cat wearing shoes.
Gal pal conversation features comparing notes on movies that move us–some silly, some deeply life changing and some so sophomoric we should be ashamed to admit watching much less laughing. It’s a side effect of mothering a boy. No, thats a lie. I laughed before he was born with my sophomorically humored brothers. As Oldest Chicken got to be about ten, I had my very own partner in such highbrow humor as Ace Ventura, Austin Powers and more recently The Hangover trio. The Norwegian, way too smart for such fare, reminded often it may not be the most appropriate motherly example. Did it stop us? Nope.
Oldest Chicken did not care for Bridesmaids; perhaps one of the finest examples ever. It does indeed take a specially wired brain to conjur, “I’ve seen better tennis playing in a tampon commercial.” Or, “I really want you to leave, but I don’t know how to say it without sounding like a dick.” Or, one more, “It’s a great bathtub. I slept there for my thirtieth birthday.” These gems could only emanate from the female brain. How can he not find this shit funny? That he buys into the popular ilk that chicks aren’t funny signals my failure as a mother. We frequently debate the point and end with me declaring him an asshat. Which is a funny phrase crafted by? A chick.
It’s really not that guys don’t find chicks funny. It’s that chicks are so funny, guys are worried about their seats upon the mantle. If we take over humor, what’s next? Equal pay? An end to slut shaming and girls openly eating sandwiches for lunch? It’s coming. Mark my words. There will come a day, in my lifetime, when women no longer have to pretend to like salad. I type one handed as my clenched fist rises high above my head in victory.
We started this with conversation with the girls. They ask if I saw PS I Love You. I don’t see movies in the theater. If God wanted us to watch movies sitting upright in our outdoor clothes, he would not have invented sweat pants, wine and couches. PS I Love You popped up on cable shortly after The Norwegian died. Female Chickens forbid my viewing, warning me of the premise: A widow receives letters and messages from her dead husband. Since their exit, I’ve watched no less than ten times. The first time featured chocked sobbing beginning to end as the heroine marches herself through to the other side of grief hitting on self indulgence, public weeping and inappropriate behavior along the journey.
Friday night finds me exhausted and a smidge grouchy from a two-job workweek. Wine and sweatpants call my iPhone all afternoon. PS I Love You shows itself–again. And I ponder how the message may have changed since last view, almost a year ago.
What strikes me this time is dialogue more than situation. Things like: “You have to stop wanting him at some point,” strikes a chord. Again, a dime for every time I’ve heard this would give me the ability to work only one job. Another. Holly, our widow heroine, muses, “I hate other people’s happy news, but I’ve become really good at hiding it,” is spot on.
“I’m an old married widow,” is how she feels in a bar with friends. Truth. Widows are in a rare not married, not single place that makes sense to no on else. People do not understand answering, “Are you single?” with yes feels like a betrayal. What we want to say is, “I’m married but he’s dead.” Therein lies the wacko.
Holly’s dead husband reminds her, “You gotta be rich to be insane. Losing your mind is not a luxury for the middle class.” Spot on as the world expects you to take care of yourself, provide for your children and get on with it dammit. There does come a time when you must face your single girl self.
You realize how uncool you really are, how comfortable you were in your marriage and yes, that you did not always try your best after 27 years. Stomach pooch, I’m talking to you. And so you strive for semi hip and cool. Why? Because the world keeps turning and sweatpants do eventually need washing. I’m told repeatedly to get out there, meet new people, widen my circle of friends.
It is hard to spend time with married friends and watch their marriages continue while mine halted. I get angry when they snark at each other. I want to shake them and say, “This is what you’ll regret. Stop it. Now.” But in the single world, I am alien. Men speak to me and my tongue ceases the abilty to form words. Words come out jumbled and non-sensical, akin to a zit-covered teenage boy. Flirting in good faith, as Holly’s husband advises, is out of the question. My skills are silly and outdated. An advisor says, put a toe in the water. Hard to do when the water is acid and you know you’ll pull back a foot minus that toe.
Holly grapples to explain, “It’s like a pair of shoes that look great; they just don’t fit.” Her dead husband tells her, “How about you just go around barefoot for a while?”
In her dead husband’s final letter, he says, “I don’t worry about you remembering me. I worry about you remembering you.” And isn’t that the truth for all of us–dead husband or not?