Come back to me, Atticus
I like romances, real and imagined. Two decades ago, on my wedding day, my husband offered a proposal that still makes my heart sing. “We only have one life to lead,” he told me, “so let’s lead it romantically.”
But I may have taken his proposition a little too literally. See, I’m the kind of person who can listen to the same cheesy song 15 times on perpetual repeat without getting bored because it transports me to a magic fairy place in my head full of ponies and tall dark men. I have certain favorite romantic novels I read more than – let’s just say – once. I can conjure cloying movie soundtracks in my mind with freakish precision. Getting down to brass tacks: Colin Firth makes me weep with happiness. I’m guessing there aren’t many people who discovered the Iliad for the first time in their ‘40s (Fagles translation ) after developing an epic crush on Hector/Eric Bana, take your pick, in the otherwise execrable Troy. I am the patron Dowager Countess of movie romance. The Notebook? Check, eight times. Pride and Prejudice, all versions? Yep. Titanic? Shooting fish in a barrel. Teen romances are acceptable, too. I was very pleased to see everyone married off in the final Harry Potter installment.
And now the moment for my exciting reveal…Yes, I have well-constructed views on school shootings and birth control and child development and women in the military, but I also have a warm place in my heart for chivalrous, elderly, sexually inexperienced vampires who date teenagers.
Will it surprise you to hear that I have published a lively defense of Twilight: Breaking Dawn on Time.Com here? And that I’ve gone on to publish a long-form essay on which the Time.com column was initially based – because, really, there’s just no limit where Edward Cullen is concerned – on the absence of women’s fantasies in popular movies, an essay which you can read, serialized in three parts, at Huffington Post here, here, and here. Until this morning I was a little embarrassed by my, well, unnatural interest in the Twiverse, especially seeing as I had never been a legit vampire fan before and have passed many happy hours trashing Stepehnie Meyer’s bovine prose and blah-di-blah. A few moments ago, I would have rushed to point out that I have a life, people. It’s not like I’m frequenting HisGoldenEyes fan sites or camping out in adult diapers at Comic-con. (On the other hand, I know what Comic-con is, which is a bit of a give away.) I didn’t even tell anyone about the HuffPo coup — a 4,000+ word serial! Three days! — because it just seemed a bridge too far, FRANKLY. Yes, we get it: smart girls can enjoy bad pop culture and you, lady, are a middle-aged weirdo. But I just decided rather impulsively that I can’t hide it any longer. I have things to say! See — can we be semi-serious for a moment? — I think my affection for the non-human romantic movie hero actually ties in very nicely with my recent writings about the way some of our real flesh-and-blood guys (only some of them, mind you) are falling short on the job. You can read about that here. Just sayin’!
Did I mention how much I love a good movie romance? The problem is that it’s increasingly difficult to find a good movie romance. There just aren’t a lot of appealing men on screen these days what with all the poor grooming and raging infantilism and random hookups. I could write even more than I already have on this subject and its attendant phenomenon, the cinematic humiliation of attractive, successful professional women, but, instead, I present for your consideration: Zach Galifianakis:
I really can’t get my head around the surfeit of these juvenile oafs. Where is chivalry? I mean, I accept of course that chivalry is DOA in real life. I see all those able-bodied boys in hoodies, deliriously slouched in their seats while the blue-rinse crowd and pregnant women with bulging varicose veins are hanging on to the subway strap for dear life. Fine. But can’t we have some movie-fake chivalry? Where’s John Cusack with his boombox?
Where are the guys who will take an iceberg for the girl they love?
For a while I was really hoping Leo would return to his roots but then he went all ‘Hooverville’
and I’m not really sure what’s up with the weight gain and the super models. And Johnny Depp. This man needs help! I am so unbelievably over Johnny Depp. I gave him a Gilbert Grape pass for, like, 15 years but, dude, we are done. The male stars in my demographic are such total duds. Brad Pitt with that icky nesting material in his beard?
Does anyone think this is a little scandalous? Can you imagine for a second an A-list actress getting away with a stunt like that? Or getting fat?
I mean, I love Alec Baldwin. I do. But, seriously: his career sky-rocketed after he became obese. (Fun fact: my sister saw him years ago in line at a bagel shop in D.C. – during the career slump epoch – and thought to herself: ‘huh, this fat man is actually kind of sexy in an Alec Baldwin-ish way.’ Then she realized he was ‘fat-kind-of-sexy-Alec Baldwin’.)
To be clear: I’m not talking about normal aging. Just guys who have totally — and INTENTIONALLY — lost their mojo, like they are baiting us heterosexual women somehow: “Hahaha, we can still take your movie ticket money and make you feel bad about your husbands even though our $100 million net worth doesn’t allow us to buy a razor.”
Speaking of movie star mojo, people sometimes tell me that my husband looks a little bit like George Clooney. A Greek George Clooney, is what they say. Translation: “A Greek, professorial, middle-aged nerd George Clooney.” I can see their small-minded little wheels spinning when they meet him for the first time: “Sure, a little ‘George’ around the eyes.” I humor this stuff, but, inwardly, I am howling with indignation. I present for your viewing pleasure: Mr. “Early Years” Clooney-cum-mullet.
I also got some drama from my in-laws when we first met for preferring the mug of my ‘Early Years’ boyfriend-now-husband, Nicholas, over the ‘Early Years’ pre-meltdown mug (that would be rap sheet mug) of Mel Gibson. And I’ll admit that my devotion was, and remains, a tad impetuous. But let’s take a look at some contemporary evidence and you judge.
And now, as I come to the end of this long rant, I find myself where a sizable percentage of my thoughts have taken me before: WHERE IS THIS GUY WHEN WE NEED HIM?
Gregory Peck really is the exemplar of all things sublime about heterosexual men. And if you don’t believe me, hear it straight from his own daughter’s voice:
“Of all the children in the world who wish they had Atticus as their father, I got to grow up with him. He really was that kind of dad. He was so kind and so loving. So… strict and firm with us as children, but he was very much like the dad in the book as a person as well as a father. How he raised us as children was so grand. He was so in love with my mother. He had found his true love. His soul mate. I got to grow up, really, in a house full of love. How does he compare? I got to grow up with the best and most loving dad in the world.”
Oh, Gregory. Atticus. Whoever. Revive me on the chifferobe.