September 28, 2011

September song

My friend loves the movie “Muriel’s Wedding,” and she keeps asking me to watch it with her. I didn’t want to watch it because it sounds like a stupid chick flick, so, finally, I told her I already saw it.

And she said, “No, you didn’t.”

And I said, “Yes, I did.”

And she said, “Oh, yeah, what’s it about?”

At this point, I was kind of on the spot, because, just between you and me, I haven’t seen it at all, so I had to think fast. I had two choices. I could admit that I lied and take a punishment, or I could maybe guess a few details about it and see if I could trick her into thinking I had actually seen it.

We all know about the tangled web one weaves when one, you know, um, creates an elaborate scheme of lies or whatever, so I was inclined to fess up. If there is anything I am it is honest as the day is long, and I would add that you could choose a day sometime in the middle of June if you were going to hold me up to the length of a day, because the days are longer there toward the summer solstice than they are in September. I am a lot more honest than the length of a day in fall or winter. Hell, I can hold my breath longer than most days in October or November. Seriously.

Still, fessing up would probably lead to actually having to watch “Muriel’s Wedding,” and that wasn’t any kind of a good idea, so I took a deep breath and said, “It’s been a long time since I watched it, but I remember it pretty well …

“Muriel, a young brunette living in Rhode Island, is addicted to cigarettes and suffers from chronic vertigo. After several episodes where Muriel stumbles, while trying to light cigarettes, sometimes falling into the street in front of speeding automobiles, she lands in jail, suspected of public intoxication.

“After a medical evaluation, she is admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she meets Sam, who suffers from bipolar disorder but has dreams of opening a boutique up the coast wherein he would sell souvenir candles to the tourists who visit the lovely little seaside town where his stepmother has a second home. Muriel thinks he is funny, but before they can exchange information, she gets dizzy and hits her head on the wall and passes out.

“Months later, after Muriel’s disorder is treated by inner ear therapy and shock treatment, she walks by a candle shop and has a strange feeling. Upon entering, she meets Sam, who has, since their initial meeting, perfected a pharmaceutical cocktail that balances out his emotional extremes but has damaged his short-term memory. It is evident they don’t recognize one another, but they are awkwardly drawn to one another. They talk for a long time; Sam ignores his customers, and they eventually walk out of the candle shop into the streets of the little town and up to the city hall where they fill out paperwork and get married on the spot. The judge is played by Lewis Stone.

“When Muriel’s family discovers what she has done, they are furious, and they try to get the marriage annulled, but over the course of several days, they realize Muriel and Sam are deeply in love, and instead of working to separate them, they organize a large celebration and public ceremony to commemorate their union. Everybody comes to the wedding, including Ben Stiller, who heard about the story on the local news and figured it might be a good vehicle for him if it were developed properly. The end.”

There was a long pause. My friend stared. After a few seconds, I said, “Well?”

And she said, “Yeah, that’s pretty close, except I don’t think it was Lewis Stone. Isn’t he dead?”

“Probably. A lot of people are dead. I’ve heard that there are more dead people than there are live people, it just goes to figure that some of them are in the movies.”

“Yeah,” she said, “but I still don’t think that was Lewis Stone. Didn’t he play Andy Hardy’s dad?”

“Yeah, that was him,” I said. “Maybe they put him in there digitally.”

“I suppose it’s possible, but I think you’re thinking of Harry Davenport.”

For further consideration: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”