Real Life vs. Reel Life

Cue Spandau Ballet …

Some years back, somebody published a book examining our tendency to view ourselves as if characters in a film. I didn’t read the book, so I don’t recall whether its thesis was merely an observation or something larger, a sociological tsk-tsking of a helpless descent from our actual lives to an artificial media landscape.

Well, I had one of those Oh, Jesus, this feels like a movie moments Sunday.

Special Sauce had spent the last two weekends in a community-theater children’s production of Alice in Wonderland. The last performance was Sunday afternoon; a party for the cast and crew and their parents followed. An actress’s mom had hooked up her iPod to speakers and was blaring a playlist packed with tween tunes. The kids danced and sang along, sweating in the late-spring humidity and having a wonderful time.

At one point, the crowd parted as if of its own accord, as if I were watching a John Hughes movie, and there stood Special Sauce. Her smile was radiant and utterly genuine; her dark blonde hair, curled by the moisture-laden air, bobbed as she danced.

She looked beautiful. Happy, sweet, joyous, and beautiful.

In some ways I wanted that moment to be cinematic; I wanted a scene I could replay again and again, for in that instant I felt myself experience pure love. I was proud of her courage and talent on the stage; I was thrilled beyond belief to see her so overjoyed among new friends.

Life, of course, is not a movie, and soon the party ended and we got into my car and drove home, willing the air conditioner to cool us down quickly. The clip exists not on a DVD or hard drive but in my mind, where, unfortunately, new memories, many good but some bad, are bound to crowd it out as the years pass.

At the same time, I didn’t watch that glorious scene and then walk out of the theater, blinking against the blinding sunlight and reluctantly returning to real life. This was real life. I got to tell Special Sauce how very proud I was of her–how terrific she was in the show, how lovely she looked celebrating with her friends, how insanely proud I am of her.

And I got to receive the grateful hug in return.

If John Hughes were still around, I’d tell him to eat his heart out. | DL

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