Thursday, December 15, 2005

Don't Fence Me In

The Mr. and I went to see "The Squid and the Whale" last night. I had been caught up in running errands all day and the movie was more or less a last-minute decision. As soon as we sat down, I panicked. I didn't know how long the movie was. I also didn't know what it was about, although I had heard it was good. I had just completely forgotten to look.

Before I see any movie, I can't relax and enjoy it until I know the length in minutes and have a brief synopsis. In a theater, it's a little easier to lose yourself and forget about how long a movie is, but at home, I find my eyes constatly drifting to the counter on our DVD player to see exactly how far into the movie we are. I wish I had some sort of insightful explanation for this, but I don't. It has nothing to do with whether I'm actually enjoying the movie.

Luckily, the "The Squid and the Whale" turned out to be great, and clocked in at a really short 88 minutes.

I'm pretty sure my compulsion to know how long a movie is and what it's about began after "Dances With Wolves." My mom and grandma had been dying to see the movie, and they dragged my brother and I to see it in the theater. Mom mentioned that it was about a man who encounters some Native Americans, so I gamely went along, not realizing that that damn movie was more than three hours long, and had about four false endings. I was ready to poke my eyes out.

Shortly after the movie was released, I was working as a hostess in a restaurant. One Saturday afternoon, two women came in asking to be seated and fed immediately, as they had just come from a showing of "Dances With Wolves." They hadn't realized how long it was and one of the women was a diabetic and had gotten sick. I could certainly relate.

Ever since then, I'm not really a fan of the 3-hour epic. Sure, I'll go, but I need to mentally prepare myself for sitting there for that long. One night, a friend and I went to see "Short Cuts" in the theater, and the movie is anything but short. I loved it so much that when I recommended it to people, I didn't cite the interesting storylines, or the cool way everything is interconnected, but "It doesn't even feel like three hours! Seriously! I thought it was 90 minutes, tops!" Any movie that doesn't feel like three hours is aces in my book.

Of course, I did make an exception for "Titanic," which I saw an embarrassing number of times in the theater.

I do the same thing with books. As soon as I begin a new book, I must immediately flip to the last page to see how long it is. Then I read the inside cover to get an idea of what the book is about. If there's a picture of the author, I'll check that out. Then I can get started on the book. I can't just dive in and enjoy the journey. The page number hangs in the back of my head the entire time I'm reading, and like with the movies, doesn't mean I'm not enjoying myself. I think I must just like knowing where I am in relation to things.

When I told the Mr. last night about my book compulsion, after asking, "Why?!" he told me that sometimes he flips to the back and reads the end. I did that once, with "Where the Red Fern Grows." The dogs die at the end, so I was, of course, totally distraught. Then I read the book and actually got the full story and was just despondent.

I also can't watch coming-of-age movies about pets. Jasclo has told me numerous times that I need to see "My Dog Skip," but I don't think so. I can already tell you that the dog is going to die at the end. I don't care if it's "heart-warming." It's the same reason I haven't seen "Old Yeller." Dog die=me not interested. Dog live forever=OK, maybe we'll talk.

Next up: why I need to spin around three times before climbing into bed.