Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Slowdancing to "Don't Dream, It's Over"

The perks of having a long-time girlfriend is that no matter how long it's been, you just pick up where you left off.

So after many weeks apart, we met up at Bistro 27 to do what girlfriends do.

Namely, talk about boys.

We talked about the ones we know now, the ones we knew way back when and the ones in between.

We talked about the early stages of love, frequency of compliments and the importance of shared interests.

It'd probably have made a good Oprah episode.

I got there first and was slurping Tempranillo and munching 3-minute calamari when she arrived to join me.

We were both a little surprised at how quiet the restaurant was tonight, assuming that everyone else wanted to get out as badly as we did.

Because she's an artist, I could happily bore her with tales of all the Italian art I'd seen and hope that she not only knew what I was talking about, but thought it sounded fascinating rather than endless and boring.

She did.

We shared bacon-wrapped scallops over butter-cooked lentils and tried to move off-topic to discuss the Vermeer show I'd seen, but that led us back to a boy she'd once dated who channeled Vermeer.

It really was all about boys tonight.

Chocolate mousse effectively ended our evening as she headed home to her husband and I set out for Movieland.

VCU Cinematheque is on hiatus for the next few weeks, but I was missing my usual Tuesday night film fix.

And while I didn't get an obscure foreign film, I did get a well-acted, well-written coming of age story set in the early '90s.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" managed to be warmly evocative of a period most of us would just as soon forget while also bringing in some incredibly dark issues.

At one point, our hero Charlie says that his best friend shot himself last May.

A guy in my row immediately said, "Well, that's not funny."

But the movie wasn't a funny take on high school, it was a more realistic one.

As a major bonus, it had a strong musical component.

And while there were some musical cliches (Bowie's "Heroes" which none of the characters knew) there were some less obvious choices, too.

Like Cocteau Twins' "Pearly Dew Drops Drops." The Smiths' "Asleep."

There was even musical humor, like when they're at a dance and "Come On, Irene" comes on and the girl says, "Oh my god, they're playing good music," and grabs a guy to dance madly to it with.

Did we really think that song was good in the early '90s? I don't remember that.

There was a character named "Ponytail Derek" who made his girlfriend mixtapes ("He makes me one every week!" she said in boredom) with hand-painted front covers.

I have received many mixtapes from many boys in my life, but not one ever had a hand-painted cover on it.

But then, I was a wallflower.

One of the characters even made a mix of big love ballads, with awful songs like Air Supply's "All Out of Love" and I know for sure no one liked that song ten minutes after it came out, much less ten years.

Because the movie came from a book and the author also wrote the screenplay, the result was a story that kept to the simple truths of the book rather than the overblown machinations of Hollywood.

Why doesn't our hero come right out and admit his feelings to her?

 "I've been making her mixtapes so she'll know how I feel."

Ah, youth, when boys made girls mixtapes to tell them how they felt.

Why do nice people pick the wrong people to date?

"Because we accept the love we think we deserve."

And because when his unrequited love gives the budding writer a typewriter, she has typed the words, "Write about us."

"I will," he types back.

What could be more romantic than that?

Be still my heart.

I may be long past high school, but never past the euphoria of possibility.

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