Monday, February 14, 2011

Blue Valentine and I Do Mean Blue

Valentine’s Day: do we hate it enough? If you’re asking me—no, never enough. Just when the scars left by Christmas begin to fade out, it rears its hideous red velvet head to make us feel Egregiously Single. Even on those psychotic occasions when we’re actually with someone for more than two minutes, it makes us feel like we’re not quite with that someone enough, that even a day of chocolate-filled coitus performed on a doily made by John Donne will not, ever, count as enough. 

Enough for what?
you might ask. Enough (I might answer!) to make even the least significant placing in the Unending Contest of Romantic Love. Because that’s what Valentine’s Day is, of course: a grotesque competition that, despite its pretensions to privacy, must, to count, be conducted in public. Hence the mobbing of florists and restaurants and jewelers and---gee, do you think this all makes me the slightest bit cranky? Never mind. This year, at least, the cranky among us have a great antidote: We can go (alone, of course, or with some fellow crankster) to see the movie Blue Valentine. Go, right now, while it’s still in the theaters, so you can enjoy a big-screen affirmation of why it is good—yes, in the word of Ernest Hemingway, GOOD—to be single, and even to be, and I mean this sincerely, No Longer Young.

Knowing this day would be coming, I went to see Blue Valentine ten days ago and while I was there I remembered (not that I ever really forget) just one of the nine thousand reasons I can’t have a real red pulsating Valentine. Two hundred years ago when the last man I lived with (lived with! egads! ) and I went to a movie, I saved him a seat while he went to get popcorn. Not just any popcorn, but compensatory popcorn, a special treat he got every time to make up for the fact that his poor frugal parents had never sent him to summer camp once. It filled a bag as big as a parachute and was buttered—nay, saturated with that rude jaundiced ooze—and could have fed, or killed, a whole village.

I waved my arms so he could find me and find me he did, at the end of the row. Encumbered as well with a diet coke silo, he extended the bag of popcorn toward me and I, the other half of our trustworthy team, extended my arm in order to take it. But being me, i.e., insane, I no longer saw the man as my boyfriend, I saw him as God. Not the God of our stupid relationship, but the God of the ceiling of the famed Sistine Chapel, the God who extends his finger to Adam in order to give him not popcorn, but life. And since their respective fingers don’t touch, leaving their mission forever in transit, my brain decided we must do the same. Neurologically speaking, I had no choice but to turn into Adam, to reach for and miss the popcorn by inches, letting that parachute sail to the floor and spew its contents hither and yon.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part, of course, is how hard I laughed. Every kernel of the vision amused me, from the literal kernels now resting in filth, to God’s eternal missing of Adam, to Laurel’s eternal thwarting of Hardy, to my own continual failure to function as even one fraction of a romantic team.

“That cost me five dollars!” my horrified boyfriend yelled from the aisle, completely and justifiably pissed.

And of course this only made me laugh more. I’m a horrible person. But as they say in the bible, so be it.