Monday, July 02, 2007

Love means never having to watch overrated treacle from the 70s

Today I took a brief respite on the Boston Common in between writing group, research, and various errands. I sat on a bench in the sunshine reading A Passage to India. Others had ventured onto the Common to enjoy the afternoon; for example, a middle-aged couple sat on the bench next to mine.

Along came a slightly disheveled and maybe too heavily medicated man who began talking to me seemingly out of nowhere. I really was engrossed in my book (which, I reiterate, was A Passage to India. Bright yellow cover. Title written in red letters. Just pointing that out) but I lifted an eye from the page to acknowledge him, not that he really seemed to be waiting for this acknowledgement before continuing with his story. Which basically started in the middle of a sentence.

" the film, you know, there's this great film, Goodbye Columbus, there's this scene, it's not the other one, Ali McGraw's in it..." He went on like this for a while. There was a bit about Donald Sutherland, who, I don't think was actually in Goodbye Columbus? So maybe my little friend was just confused, but anyway then he said "and Ali McGraw, you know, so she's in the film..." And he kind of looked at me to check in, see if I was getting all this.

"I don't like Ali McGraw," I said. (What? Love Story is possibly the most overrated film of all time. I think she was the Renee Zellweger of the 1970s.)

"Oh, well, I don't care for her too much either, but she's beautiful, you know," he replied. I may have shrugged then and glanced down at the book I longed to continue reading so he quickly launched back into his rant. Man was responsive to his audience, I'll give him that. On and on some more about Goodbye Columbus this and that, and the scene, oh here we go, the great scene, the moment we've been waiting for, where "she's reading and he sees her reading and" -- here the man opened his arms in a sweeping gesture that took in the Boston Common, the assembled hordes, the bright sunny day, the glorious sky -- "and he says, 'You always know when it's summer because she's reading War and Peace. She reads War and Peace every summer.'" With that, strange medicated man slapped me on the knee (lightly of course) to emphasize the brilliant story's end and trotted off.


I think the woman on the bench next to me gave in first. Then I laughed, too. The man on the bench said, "How did we get on Ali McGraw?" We all laughed together. I shook my head. A Passage to India? War and Peace? I don't get it. I've never seen Goodbye Columbus, I might add, but I guess maybe I should think about adding it to my Netflix queue tonight, eh? At any rate, I hope that man's day was brightened as he reflected on this movie scene in which he clearly delighted.

Summer time, and the livin' is - something.

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