Thursday, January 24, 2013


I've seen so many old movies recently! (Apologies for starting off this post with something right out of Zooey Deschanel's Twitter drafts folder.) I guess it started when I was reading some piece about romantic comedies that referenced "Broadcast News," which I hadn't seen before and felt like I should; I ordered it on Netflix and watched it that weekend. That led to my populating my Netflix queue with a whole slew of notable movies from previous decades that I had never seen.  

There's probably some kind of psychological effect at work here, or maybe it's just that I usually have no prior knowledge of the actors when I watch these movies, but the leads in these films just seem so much more like movie stars. They're alluring, sturdier (?)... unknowable, mysterious, beautiful. I'm not simultaneously thinking about what they look like wearing sweatpants coming out of the supermarket, or who they're married to in real life (since I don't even know!). It's hard to watch "An Officer and a Gentleman" and not consider with a frown that if that movie were made today, it would probably star Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in the Richard Gere and Debra Winger roles.  

By the time the movie's finished, I'm itching to Google the actors, scan their Wikipedias, see what they look like now. Of course, invariably, the findings are depressing. I find out that the twentysomething hearththrob from the movie I just watched is now a grandfather (as my friend Alice put it, regarding this phenomenon: "[your] crushes turn into Giuliani"), or that the leading lady hasn't been in a movie since 1987. These revelations usually lead my mind to two different places: 1) I imagine a young guy watching, like, "Eternal Sunshine" 30 years from now and then looking up this intriguing "Kate Winslet" and clicking through her Google Images and realizing she's the mother of that young actress he just saw in a small part in a new Jane Austen adaptation on HBO, and then deciding to add "Revolutionary Road" or whatever to his queue, and 2) I contemplate how weirdly jealous I am of the children of famous actors who can watch their parents' films (the equivalent for them of old home movies, I guess) and "hang out" with this strapping younger version of their mother or father whenever they feel like it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

by a string

I was waiting for the elevator the other day next to a family of three: mother, father, teenage daughter. Each was holding a few shopping bags. They were silent for a few moments, shifting as we waited, and then the mother reached to take one of the daughter's bags. "Stop, mom," the daughter snapped, "I've got it." She looked down and turned away from both parents. "I was just trying..." the mother started, before shifting into mumbles. Meanwhile, the dad looked like he was daydreaming about a coffee mug.  

The elevator opened, and the four of us entered. Just as the doors were about to close, a Real Housewives-y cartoon of a woman in a fur coat slid her way into the elevator with us, along with her small dog. "Make way for my little Frankie," she announced, even though none of us were even remotely in her way. The elevator doors closed, and Fur Coat took in the mother-daughter pair. "Oh my god, you guys are adorable. Matching outfits! So cute." The mother and daughter looked down sheepishly at their red coats and then they made reluctant eye contact, unable to conceal barely perceptible smiles. "Yeah," the mother said, "I guess you're right." "So it wasn't planned?" asked Fur Coat, as she picked Frankie up from the ground and began stroking his fur. "Nope," the mother said. "I guess when you've been living together for this long, these things just happen..." As she said this, the daughter rolled her eyes semi-dramatically for show but, simultaneously, she took a small step toward her mom, as if pulled by a string.

Monday, January 7, 2013


One of your good friends, Jennifer, is having people over, so you put on a new sweater, pick up a bottle of wine, spend the entire subway ride regretting wearing the new sweater instead of one of your "go to" shirts, and walk to her apartment. Some faint music is playing from a television (?) and there are seven bottles of red wine but no white and all the women are wearing scarves (though each in a different manner). You say hello to Jennifer, who is seemingly already wasted, and proceed to meet a bunch of the periphery characters in your conception of her life: her new boyfriend's roommate, her former coworker who she always talks about, etc. Usually there's one of these bit players whom you end up talking to for a weirdly long amount of time, typically someone who isn't even all that close to Jennifer (it'll be, like, the boyfriend of one of her on-the-outs college friends).

A few days later, you meet up with Jennifer for dinner and, before you've even opened your menus, you say something like "so Saturday night was so fun...," and you're off! You work through each person at the party systematically. You'll deliver a vague initial assessment of each person you met, in turn: "I liked the roommate with the hat!" (you don't want to take too strong a stance before you know what Jennifer's take on the given individual is). Jennifer will proceed to break down this person's entire existence in 30 seconds ("Well, the story with him is that three years ago he..."). After this summary, you'll circle back and either reaffirm or scale back your original claim ("You know, he did seem a little creepy...") And then you move on to the next person ("Wait, so who was the girl with the curly hair...?") 

There's something strangely electric about the whole back-and-forth. It's like a car-ride-home-from-a-movie conversation but intimate and dishy and devoid of arguments related to Hugh Jackman's singing voice. As you and Jennifer wait for a picture of her boyfriend's sister to load on her phone's Facebook app, you feel like a confidant, like this is somehow the adult version of the late night bunk bed conversations and post-homework hour-long phone calls of your teenage years.