The OMGWTFBBQ Case of Benjamin Button

I am rusty today. I have written nothing at you for weeks because the things that have frustrated me have been from real life. I try to keep things abstract here because the walls have ears. Ears that sign my paychecks, if you catch my drift. It tied my hands and left me frustrated with nowhere to go. Today, something has finally filled my fingers with letters. Thank God.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a pretty darn good movie…for a movie written by a focus group. A group intentionally trying to tear my shit up. A group who cast Brad Pitt, knowing damn well that casting Brad Pitt is what you do when you need a character to be relatable and human. When you have a fantastical character but you still need people to empathize with his problems. (See also: Louis from Interview with the Vampire.)

Yes, yes. The plot was actually written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but that guy isn’t to be trusted either. Jazz age, alcoholism, crazy wife…you should never trust people like that. They were proto-goth. They even dressed well and wore elaborate underwear.

They were making every attempt to make me cry. By the end of the movie, I was joking about how I fully expected it to end with one-eyed kittens being led into a gas chamber while a Sarah McLachlan song played. Let’s recap.

Theme: Everyone you love is going to die.

Benjamin grows up in an old folks’ home, so he doesn’t think that death is anything particularly bad; he’s also too young to really think anything other than “oh, she went away.” This continues until he’s old enough to undertand death and one patient tells him, “people die so we realize how much we love them.”

We all know this, and most of us are secretly hoping that we go first. However, that’s not particularly realistic so most of us know what it’s like to lose someone close to us. Once, a friend look at me with tears in her eyes and said, “it never gets better does it?” All I could do was shake my head. I couldn’t watch her cry and still be able to speak.

It never completely heals. It’s never completely OK. The best you can do is try to look at all the good things that person taught you, all the good times you had, and be glad for those. Death is there to remind us to not waste time and not take people for granted. It’s necessary. It just also seriously sucks.

Theme: you are going to get old. Especially if you are a woman.

Once Daisy and Benjamin finally get together and are happy, Daisy slowly realizes that she’s going to get old and crusty and Benjamin’s just going to get younger.

If you are under the age of 30, you think I’m kind of stupid for mentioning this. Like, “oh, women are so shallow and they shouldn’t think about this stuff, and it’s about the person you are and blah blah blah.” I thought that too. I sat back and said, “psh, I don’t have to compete with girls of 23…I am wiser than them and I’m still bendy.”

I still think that most of the time. I wouldn’t want to be 23 again because I was stupid and crazy at 23. I lived in shitty apartments. I had shitty jobs. That what you do when you’re 23. But I am coming up on an age where I start to feel like I look like old, scary Madonna in certain pictures. Eventually, I’ll see myself naked and feel like I look all melty. There’s a span of years between “I actually AM young” and “I look my age and I’m totally OK with that” where one’s mind has to adjust. That length of time is different for everybody, and some people never get to the second part. I’m at the very beginning of that span of years and just starting to wonder who put that line in my face. I fully realize that this is stupid, but there it is. One day, you have to put down the red lipstick because it makes you look old.

Theme: it’s sucky to not have your dad around.

When Daisy and Benjamin have a kid, he makes a point to leave before his daughter is old enough to know him. He does, however send her birthday postcards she doesn’t receive until adulthood. She reads them sitting at her mother’s deathbed. “I wish I could be there to teach you how to play the piano.” “I wish I could have told you not to chase some boy.”

It’s been two years since my dad died, but that’s still a bit of a sore spot for me. It may always be. He will neer again be around to offer advice when something’s bad. To be proud of me or happy for me when something’s good. There’s just a hole there where I wonder what he would have said or done. He probably would have stared me down with those piercing hazel eyes and said something very sensible. Despite looking a lot like him, I’m not always particularly sensible.

Theme: nothing lasts.

Various characters say this to each other throughout the movie, usually when they see a time of happiness ending. Really? Are you SURE this isn’t going to end with one-eyed kittens and a gas chamber?

We all know that the only constant is change. I guess that’s a good thing to hear if you’re really unhappy, but if you’re in a happy situation, you’d probably rather not think about that. There are days when my life appears to be all frustration and stupid emails but if you take an average, it’s pretty good. When things are bad, you’re unhappy. When things are good, you sit around waiting for the unexpected piano to fall. You shouldn’t, but maybe you do. While you wait for that piano to fall, I offer you a mantra:

“I made this good situation. If it ends, I’ll just make a better one.”

By the time the credits rolled, I was kind of thankful partly because I was emotionally tired, and partly because I finally had words in my head.