Reality Truck

Lost in Translation

I’m not as unfeeling as he accuses me of being, but things change…They rarely make movies about long-term couples, and for good reason: our lives are boring. The courtship had its moments, but now we’ve become the predictable Part II no one in his right mind would ever pay to see. (“Look, they’re opening their electric bill!”) We’ve been together so long that in order to arouse extraordinary passion, we need to engage in physical combat. We can’t profess our love and we’d never consciously sit down to discuss our relationship. These, to me, are good things. They were fine with him as well, until he saw that damned movie and was reminded that he has other options.

—David Sedaris

Thank God the air conditioning in my office is busted. After three days of sauna-like conditions, I emailed the landlord who asked me to please be patient; a part had been ordered and the cavalry was on the way. Hell, I told him, I was just relieved it REALLY was broken, ‘cause I thought maybe I was having hot flashes (and I’m not even 40! I protested…though I’ve been trying it on for size, and telling everyone I am, in anticipation of next month’s birthday, when I’ll turn 39. I figure it’ll take me a year or so to adjust.)

He said his assumption was just that I was in a “state of perpetual afterglow.”


Would that it were so.

I could blame the romance breakdown in my life on so many things (namely my insignificant other)—he doesn’t live here; we never see each other; I have a roommate now (my mom)…But mostly I think it’s laziness (his and mine).

I could say we take each other for granted but that seems such an…active…endeavor. As if we actually devote time or thought to the process of benign neglect. We don’t.

In any given week, there’s at least 50 things we each have to do (which don’t include the other one). And another dozen or so that we want to fit in that also don’t involve each other (in his case: sports; in my case…uhhhh, probably sleep…And maybe read the new InStyle).

My mom feels guilty, thinking his absence is due to her presence, but as I’ve told her, “he’s never here anyway.”

We are not a couple that thrives on togetherness, which means I’ve finally gotten what I always wanted: complete devotion to somebody who will just leave me alone.

Not only do we not see each other, we don’t even talk on the phone.

Whereas even my mother checks in with my stepdad at least twice a day, and sometimes more often (which says something about the depth of their undying love in that they are willing to recklessly squander Verizon peak minutes on each other; if I’d ever had any doubts about their commitment, boy, that squashed them flat).

My response to people who seem to feel the need to engage in such regular (OK, needy, if you ask me) discourse is, “no one is endlessly fascinating.”

Mostly I am pretty sure what he did today: he went to work. So did I.


Last Tuesday, the dog got sick. On Friday, my stepdad fixed the broken doorknob in the bathroom. OK, admittedly that was pretty exciting (‘cause now we don’t have to push the scale in front of the door to keep it closed.) Over the weekend, I had friends in town. It rained. Sunday, my brother went back to Austin. He said, “see you in 11 months,” and then he hopped on his motorcycle and headed south.


Everybody’s up to date.

Anything in there worth a phone call to my ol’ ball and chain? A conversation? Nah.

The other night I did dream that he colored his hair a really odd shade, and I didn’t like it…but that was about it....

At least my brother managed to infuse some drama while he was here.

In addition to the firestorm his grocery bills ignited, he also has a way of doing deliriously oblivious things that you kinda just can’t help but marvel at.

Like the night my folks sent him to the video store and he came back with Monster’s Ball.

Now. They’re big Billy Bob Thornton fans. And they think Halle Berry’s attractive.

But a movie that’s famed mostly for its graphic sex scenes between Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry?

Eh. Not so much.

Sure, I’ve seen it. Loved it. Went out of my way to watch the European uncut DVD in fact.

But the thought of my parents watching Halle Berry’s over-the-top “make me feel goooooood” displays of “emotion” is way more than I can take without cringing.

My mother’s prim review was, “Well, it certainly wasn’t about anything.”

I could’ve launched a counter-critique about how it spoke movingly to themes of race, class, poverty, emotional desperation, need, familial cycles of violence, the death

penalty…but who’m I kiddin’? EVERYbody watched it for the sex.

Training Day was also, rather predictably, NOT a big hit with my mom.

At least she acknowledged that things did happen—but she didn’t really understand them—and just when she thought it HAD to get better, it KEPT getting worse.

I’m not on a mission to convert; I just bring home things like Under the Tuscan Sun that I think she’ll like (“That Diane Lane?! Now that girl is plucky. Moving halfway round the world and buying a house! If you can imagine!”) Seabiscuit was another modest hit (that horse had gumption).

Earlier this week she cajoled me into Lost in Translation. (I tried to talk her into White Oleander instead, because she was kinda bored when I made her sit through The Missing, with Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones, which I had pre-screened and deemed accceptable as appropriate parental fare).

On the other hand, even though I loved Lost in Translation, and there’s nothing inappropriate in it…I knew it’d be a sleeper (and not in a good way).

“Well what’s it about?” she implored, “the critics really seemed to like it, y’know…I’ve read some good things. Didn’t it win an Oscar?”

It’s not ABOUT anything, I insisted. NOTHING happens. You will NOT like it. Though I threw in for good measure that “Bill Murray wuz robbed at the Oscars!”

So after much debate, I watched it with her.

I was right.

Though she did find Bill Murray’s karaoke modestly entertaining (particularly after I played the real versions of Elvis Costello’s “Peace Love and Understanding” and Roxy Music’s “More than This,” to further enhance her appreciation and amusement quotient).

We did agree on one thing though. We both found Scarlett Johannson a little vapid and overrated, not to mention downright unattractive.

Though my mother pinned it better than I did when she said, “Poor thing. It’s her mouth. It looks like a sore horse’s ass.”

So from now on, I’ll leave the movie critiques to her. n