My Movie Madness and Kurt Vonnegut

So, I’m moving down the street towards my flat after an exam on Developing African States. It’s more of a shuffle, actually. Since the exam has gone well I have decided a treat is in order and I am toting a bag of reward goodies. As I come to a crossroads near my flat, a man a few yards ahead of me is trying to start his car. The engine clicks, struggling to turn over without any luck.

At this sound, I halt, turn and shoot down the other street, away from the car. The sky gets darker and my will to get home for an afternoon of celebratory gluttony strengthens. I hook a support finger through the plastic loops of my grocery bag and push into a turtle-ish third gear. As I “speed up” the car’s engine finally catches and starts. There is no moment of realization and I am not surprised. I know exactly why I didn’t pass by the car; I fully expected it to explode.

Storytelling master Kurt Vonnegut once said, “People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.” Of this observation, I am as guilty as a former football star with a breakfast drink nickname.

So, look at the typical disaster movie. In the beginning of the movie everything is ordinary, then something horrible happens, the strength of the human condition is tested and then the horrible thing is corrected and finally everything is back to normal, only it’s a little better because of the trials and tribulations shared by the characters.

Life is not like this. But I do my best to make it like this. I am conditioned by movies; but I am influenced by movies which are not necessarily what Mr. Vonnegut had in mind. This is why I expected the car to explode; anytime a car is having trouble turning over in a movie it eventually explodes.

This explosion theme has a twin. Anytime someone leaves a bag on a chair and walks away from it, I expect it to explode; the influences are mafia and spy films. These spy films have long fingers. If I happen upon two people talking in the park I always feel that I have just accidentally involved myself in an international espionage ring.

Horror movies have had their way with my brain too. If horror movies have taught me anything it is that the bathroom is a bad place to be. Every time I close one of the side mirrors of the medicine cabinet I expect to be horrified by a ghoulish face behind me. When opening my eyes after washing my face in the shower I am convinced that the girl from The Ring will be handing me a wash cloth. These are far worse at night. Should I see a priest walking down the street, I am certain that he’s en route to fight a head-spinning little girl who is vomiting on her mother and speaking English backwards.

And at thirty-hrmfrr years old, I never enter my building at night without pretending that a werewolf is right on my heels.

I get home about five minutes after the non-explosion of the car. I put my celebration grub on the counter: two pizzas, fish sticks, French fries, a box of cheese sticks and a can of sardines for the cat. I take off my sweater vest and trousers and slip into a sweat shirt and jeans. The cat digs into the sardines as I put the (first) pizza into the oven. I put on Beethoven, sit on the couch and start reading about Indian political structures.

Mr. Vonnegut was right; we do imagine our lives as movies. But what the hell, the sweater-vested cat owners of the world need to have fun too. Later, I’ll head down to the pub and tomorrow morning, the swimming pool. I can’t even begin to tell you what my imagination does in those places.

What is your movie madness influence?

  1. #1 by Andy on January 26, 2012 - 4:13 pm

    D, as an avid movie watcher, I am shocked – SHOCKED! – that your favorite director didn’t even get a mention in this one. If Michael Bay has taught us anything, it is that EVERYTHING explodes.

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