Monday, January 21, 2013

The Week in Review: Henry Fonda Teaches Shakespeare about Love

I hesitate to populate this blog with too many of the mundane details of my life down here for fear of this turning into a LiveJournal/"Dear Diary" endeavor. I mean, do y'all really care to hear about the movies I watched or the random conversations I have with people I hang out with? Certainly if said movies or conversations provoke thoughts I deem worth sharing, I'll share them, but I don't wish to subject you to things like, "I watched The Odd Couple, it was pretty funny," "My friend and I debated the merits of Star Trek: Voyager," or "My roommate and I discussed the various possible explanations in the Manti Te'o hoax." Though if you want to hear such things, say so, and I'll gladly recount them to you.

That aside, there were at least a few events from this last week amusing enough to share.

While driving home from work, my "check engine" light came on. Since the vehicle wasn't otherwise misbehaving, I continued on toward home, but stopped at the local Big O Tires and asked them to look at it. The guy came back to me about 10 minutes later and informed me that there was no oil in my car. I responded with an incredulous, "What!?" and explained that the oil gasket had been leaking but was replaced three months ago by another Big O facility. He said: "Well, if it were burning oil, there should be at least a quart or two of oil left in there if you've only driven 3,000 miles since then. Maybe you've got another leak, but I think they may have forgotten to put oil back in your car when they replaced that gasket." Really? Really!? It seems unlikely that if I were driving around for three months with no oil in my car, the "check engine" light would have only come on now. So, I have to bring the car back in today so they can put 'er up on the rack and check for another leak. Great. Let's hope there's nothing too terribly wrong with it. If they determine there is no leak, and that the only reasonable explanation is that the other joint neglected to re-oil me, rest assured I will return to the other place and politely ask for my blasted money back.

On Friday evening a few friends and I went to Chipotle for dinner, and found ourselves in a discussion as to whether angelic sin is in any way comparable to human sin due to the difference in the natures of angels and humans. I think I can safely say this was the first time such a conversation took place at a Chipotle.

I saw Shakespeare in Love for the first time this week. Two thoughts occur to me. One, Saving Private Ryan should have beat it for Best Picture that year. Two, the movie is improperly titled. In the story, William Shakespeare becomes involved with a nobleman's daughter who disguises herself as a man to act in his plays. The two characters are shown many times in acts of physical intimacy, and professing their and feeling for each other. But perhaps Bill Shakespeare ought to ask himself the question immortalized by the band Whitesnake: "Is this love that I'm feeling?" It looks a lot more like lust or infatuation pure emotionalism. The relationship between them seems so shallow. You don't get the sense that either of the characters really has that deep care and concern and self-sacrificing motivation that characterizes love of another. It's emotionalism charged by physical attraction. That ain't love; that might be how a relationship that leads to love could begin, but it's not there yet.

The distinction between the two is portrayed well in the original version of Yours, Mine, and Ours. Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball play two middle-aged widowed people, each with a few children of their own. They meet, and over a period of time (covered in a montage) they talk about their lives: their past marriages, their children, their difficulties and hopes and fears. They get to really know each other, and to really love each other. This sort of deep relationship is contrasted in the film by the "puppy love" of Lucy's teenage daughter, who wants to run with her beau, whom she thinks she "loves." As the daughter is telling this to her parents, right as Lucy is going into labor with her and Henry's baby, Henry tells the daughter,
You want to know what love really is, take a look around you. Take a look at your mother. It's giving life that counts. Until you're ready for that, all the rest is just a big fraud.... Life isn't a "love-in": it's the dishes, and the orthodontist, and the shoe repairman; ground round instead of roast beef. And I'll tell you something else: it isn't going to bed with a man that proves you're in love with him; it's getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful, everyday world with him that counts.
Amen, Henry. Amen. I wish that more movies would give this sort of picture of love, instead of the typical "Let's exchange witty pick-up lines until we spend the night together." How pedestrian.