Monday, March 1, 1999

The Same Game

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

If this column has proven one thing in the past six and a half years, it is that I am not a man possessed with a great depth of knowledge. The more I go along, the less I seemingly know. At the same time I think it fair to say that the things that I do know, I'm somewhat neurotically obsessive about. I may not have a lot of different interests but the ones I do, passion prevails and I MUST know everything about them.

Many blue moons ago (or at least two) I tried my best to tone down that passion and try to approach things with a bit more moderation. It wasn't the way I was used to living, but it got me through a rather prolonged string of not too good days feeling a bit too much. For the most part I tried my best to keep doing the things I had done in the past, just without the same amount of intensity. One of the things I cut way back on was going to movies. Movies can enhance emotions like nothing else- the best hit you stronger than a stiff drink, stay with you a long time; the worst can still contain images, snippets of conversations that forever change the way you view things.

During this time a person came along (albeit with a noticeable limp) who convinced me to reconsider my movie ban. One day this person and I were taking a break in the little cubby hole Al had built at #80 for kids to watch videos while their parents shopped. I was telling her about my new approach to things and she said to me, "What you need to do is create new memories to replace the old." She didn't say it in a critical or judgmental way; she said it with a clarity that was more than a little refreshing. And over the next year we did exactly that- create a bunch of new memories that to this day I can't quite forget.

I think I can make it now, the pain has gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been praying for

Anyway, this person (albeit with a noticeable limp) and I ended up going to many movies together. Never have I known anyone who I enjoyed the experience with quite as much as her. It wasn't like she did or said anything that made going to movies that much more enjoyable. But only after a few movies I discovered she shared the same passion for a good film (though we didn't always agree on what made a good film) as I did. She was the Siskel to my Ebert. Without being told, she knew the best way to enjoy the entire experience from where to sit, to what kind of food to get, to knowing when to laugh and when to make an appropriate comment during the show.

After she left (albeit with a noticeable limp) I again found it difficult to go to movies although I knew she would be upset to know I had allowed myself to let the experience be spoiled again. I certainly couldn't go with other people, because they just didn't have the protocol down and it was more enjoyable going by myself. I got around this by discovering the best way to determine whether or not someone was worth getting to know better was to go to a movie with them. You can learn a lot about a person by what kind of movies they like, and how they go about watching a movie. Certainly there are better ways to measure the value of a friendship, but in many ways I haven't found a more accurate barometer. Show me a person who goes to a movie as just another thing to do and I'll show you a friendship that will eventually show its lack of depth somewhere down the line. I have gone to plenty of good, bad, and mediocre movies with plenty of good, bad, and mediocre moviegoers.

A couple years back I finally found another suitable movie going partner. She and I seldom agreed on the merits of a movie but I quickly learned to respect her opinions on the effectiveness of a film. Despite being one of the few people I've ever known who didn't like popcorn, I still rediscovered my own love by her own enthusiasm for movies. She will probably go down in history as the only one I actually appear in a movie with, and for that and many other reasons, I will always be more than a little grateful. It isn't like she left me totally in the dark.

Recently my favorite Nagel Woman and I tested the strength of our friendship by attending a movie together. I must admit I was a little worried that she would be the type who chortled during the inappropriate time, talked incessantly about trivial plot developments, or who viewed watching a movie as a passive activity. I should have known better. The movie we saw was Enemy of the State and she is now on my short list of people who made a movie better by sharing the experience together. Weirdly passionate is how she describes herself. And like in other areas we have shared, I understand fully what she means by that.

Look all around, there's nothing but blue sky
Look straight ahead, nothing but blue sky
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

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