Monday, February 10, 2014

How Whit Stillman got me married.

Ambling around Twitter, waiting for my 1pm teleconference with Spain to arrive (late, as usual), I see this link posted by the estimable Whit Stillman.

This reminds me that I happen to be working on a tenuously similar* thing in Spain about which I cannot comment at the moment. Then I am reminded this has nothing to do with the main point of this missive, which is to explain how, unbeknownst to him, Whit Stillman landed me a wife.
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One day, while I was but a mere MBA hopeful, my friend Sam, then a TV & Film Production major, scored tickets to a preview of A Certain Film, directed by A Director Who Shan't Be Named. I knew not ADWSBN, and initially demurred. But Sam was adamant that ADWSBN was the next great thing and his previous film was hilarious and this film promised to be just as funny, and c'mon, be a pal.

So I relented.

Film geeks that we were, we arrived early and positioned ourselves in the dead center of the theater. Soon enough it began to fill up. I noticed that Sam and I were, um, the cineaste equivalent of Jets amid Sharks, if you will.

So the film starts and moves along until there's a riot scene, to which the rest of the audience responds with a considerably warmer sort of enthusiasm than I thought warranted. Being, as you will recall, in the very dead center of a group of people who were (visibly and very audibly) favorably disposed to an onscreen riot -- making their assent emphatic via concession snacks being launched screenwards -- made me somewhat uncomfortable and rather tarnished the evening for me to the extent that copious beers were unable to ameliorate.

So, basically, Sam owed me one. Sam knew he owed me one. An uncomfortable silence cast a shadow, a it were, over the friendship.

There things remained for some time.

One day Same showed up and said "I got another pair of tickets." I rolled my eyes like a lesser sort of slot machine and pondered what sort of defense I might muster for a manslaughter trial. Sam, being a quick-witted lad, immediately realized why I, red-eyed and breathing fire, had carefully placed my hands around his neck.

"It's called Metropolitan," he explained. He further went on to explain how it was very highly regarded and "was right up my alley." Noting that several scenes featured "men in tuxedos and white tie," he suggested this minimized the probability of a riot erupting somewhere in the late second act, thereby heading off the possibilities the rest of the theatergoing crowd may, unexpectedly, stand on the armrests to throw Jujyfruits in approval of a protagonist setting a restaurant alight and suggesting said protagonist visit homicide upon the antagonist, as the latter is a vile Oedipalist.

I looked sideways at Sam, at whose suggestion I'd nearly tested my family history of hypertension, and decided to hear his views on the matter instead of immediately performing something invasive with the tickets.

He explained, in the most cursory of terms, the general plot of the film, and then proceeded to recount the triumphs of the film at Cannes, etc.

"Fine, let's go."

"We-e-e-e-ell..."

My keen sense told me something was amiss. Sam was offering tickets but bailing out? As it turned out, Sam had figured out this film was likelier to appeal to my tribe than his. Comedies of manners(less) didn't compete with whatever was on his agenda at the age of 21.

Thus, he gave me both tickets and counted the blood feud as successfully concluded.

I found the prettiest girl who considered me tolerable, and somehow giving the impression I had enviable contacts in high places, dazzled her into going to this screening. Which she and I both enjoyed immensely.

So much did she enjoy it that, less than two years later we were engaged and then, as one does, got married.

-J.

* Similar only in the sense it has to do with the same industry.