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Twisting all the bad things into good

May 3, 2013

Drivers. Writers. Passengers

“That night, after the movie, driving my father's car along the country roads, I began to wonder how real the landscape truly was, and how much of a dream is a dream.”
-Don DeLillo, Americana


     I have seen The Place Beyond The Pines. And, boy, this Ryan Gosling is impressive. Let. Me. Tell. You. Again. My friend teases me, tells me I have a man-crush. She posts his pics and whatnot on my no-nonsense FaceBook page. I laugh, then I hit LIKE, then we engage in some witty banter until she acquiesces. After the clever comments cease, I shake my head, crack an awkward smile, and say to myself, "A 'mancrush'. That's funny."
     Then I delete her silliness

     Because I'm not silly.
     I'm a serious writer type with no time for nonsense.
     Plus, I don't want people to think I'm gay for Gosling. Because I'm not.
     I'm really just a fan of his acting, and his blue eyes.
     Don't you just want throw on some speedos and go swimming in them?
     Yeah, me neither. That'd be way gay.

     The Place Beyond The Pines was great, great story, and great performances by Gosling's co-stars.
     "Avery", was played by another actor with blue eyes, but not like Ryan's. Gosling's are the kind of blue Miles Davis sang about with his trumpet.

     These blue eyes belonged to Bradley Cooper, star of the nauseating headache The Hangover 2 and the B-movie The A-Team. In terms of minutes, Cooper's face chewed  up more screen time. But minutes do not make moments.
     That's why the first name at the end credits was "Gosling".
     "Ryan Gosling as Luke".

    It should have said "Ryan Gosling is Luke".

    Then came the opening credits to another story, this one true, and about 137 minutes shorter.
    Starring me, nearly unrecognizable in the role of a guy who takes things too far, like some method actor who won't break character. Ever.
     It's a stretch, I know. The suspension of disbelief. 
    And co-starring a talented European actress, Swiss Miss, as the young lady friend who is mysteriously not put off by my character's extreme nature. Even more mysterious, and kind of frightening, is that she didn't run for the Alps when the actress playing my aunt warned her about me, telling her I had a dark side. When Smiss Miss told me what I already know, she thought I'd be hurt. I laughed. I thought it was cool. I told her it was true.
     I do have a dark side. And it outshines most people's bright.

    This was not my first matinee.

    It was merely another epic journey, to the OCD, the place beyond the BFE, where most drivers will never go.

    Swiss Miss asked, "Why do you park so far away?"

    I found it strange someone who lives 6 time zones away would consider a few hundred yards (kilometers?) "so far away". I figured I'd try to explain, even though she had already made legible to me that my writing makes little sense to any reader whose native language is not American English, leading me to ponder how much chingy ching ching  I'd lose in International book sales if when I get published, people around the world are too uncultured to grasp my stuff. Perhaps it goes beyond the language barrier because my writing doesn't always make much sense to me, and I speak perfect English. I don't want to come off "uncultured" by saying I "dumbed it down" for her, so I just tried to keep simple my reasoning for parking where less obsessive drivers just aren't neurotic enough to go, especially if there's no shuttle service, because it's just a car, because they're just going to a movie, not a passion play, so what the hell?

     Here's what the hell.

     I'm not like all those other moviegoers.
     I'm not just another driver.

    Because my legs are strong.
    I can walk, I don't mind it, I love it.
    It helps me think.
    Gets the wheels turning. Puts me in overdrive.
    But you can't ask me to to slow down.
    I won't tell you to keep up.
    I'll carry you if I have to
    if you need me to,
    if you want me to,
    if you ask me to,
    if I can.
    I'll try.
    I can.
    My bad back is strong now.

    And it's really not as far off as it seems.

    I can see it now.

    We can't get lost.

     Let them drive in circles,
     cursing strangers,
     wondering aloud "Is this guy coming or going?"
     Not this guy. Me, I just arrived. And I'm way over there.
     The only car in an empty lot.
     
     I'm in the space beyond the pinetree hanging from your rear view.
    

     They bandage their bumpers,
     bragging rights
     for something they never did,
     someone else's victory.
     Their honor student, their sports team,
     Their other car, the clean one, is in the shop
     and they'd rather be fishing than anywhere with their wife.
     Their passengers daydream of riding shotgun in some other car, a clean one, with some other driver,  speeding towards some place beyond the peeling tint of the closed window they could not be sitting closer to. 
     Their doors swing open. Their doors slam shut.
     Their exterior is dinged and dented,
     I could write a short story with my finger on their rear window.
     Watch me.
     Then wash it away. Not just the part people can see.
     Their interior.
     The place where loose change lingers
     where the sweet stench of fading pine surrendered six months ago to a scent so aromatic and ashen, it tastes like drowning, every breath they take is their last, one final gulping swallow of smog before sinking to the bottom of a sick and stale cesspool.
     But at least it doesn't smell like it did that one day,
     so many miles ago
     when it reeked,
     the way new cars often do.  

     They have the movie times printed out on wasted paper, leaving them no doubt where they have to be, when they have to be there, and when they get there late, they blame bad traffic, or the bad weatherman, whose forecast foretold them this winter would be "a rough one", like the one last year, and next year, and every year before and after.
     So they must make up those minutes by saving every single second of a wasted life, speeding and short-cutting, because "the previews are the best part", because coming attractions give them something to look forward to, after today's movie is over.
     Because today is not good enough, and it never will be.
     There's always next Sunday afternoon. New movies every Friday night.
     The smudged screen of the digital clock on their dusty dashboard.
     It's set 7 minutes ahead, but only because they don't know how to fix it.
     They just don't have the time.
     They don't want to miss the best part. And they always do.

     We won't be late

     We won't need to step all over strangers to find our seats in the dark.
    
     We're almost there.
   
     With only a few steps left before the end of our nearly three minute trek, I praised The Place Beyond The Pines, it's ensemble cast, especially Gosling's standout performance, when his mere presence would have sufficed.
     Her response lead me to believe something got lost in translation, as German is her first language. Being that Sarcasm is my second language, I knew she meant what she said. But I couldn't believe it.

     This is what she said.
     "I like Bradley Cooper better."

     Oh. Hell. Nein!

     This could have been the opening battle scene of World War II Part 2.
     But I kept quiet, cool.
     Just like Gos' character in Drive, a character without a name.
     He was just "Driver".
     Go ahead. Check the credits.
     If you think I'm making it up, writing nonsense, wasting gas, words, time, moments.

     After I opened and closed the passenger's door for her, I popped my trunk so she could not see me fuming in my rear view, my head spinning as I attempted to shake off this "Bradley's better" business, while lock-jawing down my ever-present toothpick. It doesn't even come out of my mouth when I brush my teeth.

      I couldn't go on like this. I was becoming like the guy in the movie, the one who took things too far. It was time to break character. Forever. I had to stop taking myself, and my movies, and even my guy, Gos, so seriously. Then I found what I forgot I had been searching for in my trunk.
     So I put on my black leather driving gloves, one at a time.
     Then my jacket, the white one, with the scorpion on the back.
     Before I opened my undinged driver door, I cracked an awkward smirk, shook my head. and tried to chuckle when I said to myself, "Bradley Cooper's better than Gos. That's funny."
     But it wasn't funny. It was borderline absurd, not worthy of debate or discussion.
     So I let it go.
     I was Quiet. Cool. Driver. Writer.
     I did not waste gas, words, time, moments.

     Not on nonsense.




He has another jacket with a frog on it.


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