Friday, June 17, 2011

Sondheim's "Company" in the Movie Theater

First of all, seeing a musical in the movie theater, like not a movie made of a musical, but just a filming of an actual production, is weird. Because people still clap after big numbers. But you aren't actually there, the clapping affects no one. Still, they do it. By the end of the movie they have overcome their initial shame and are clapping full force. It's strange.

Second, I had some sort of out of body experience watching this show. I mean, the cast was awesome. Duh. And I like Sondheim a lot, even though I'm not sure if I'm spelling his name right and I don't care enough to check.

But this whole movie is about marriage, right? Specifically, it's about this guy, who ends up the last single guy in his group of friends, they've all hitched up. So the lyrics, since Sondheim has that nasty streak, go into all the dynamics, like how the guys try to live vicariously through him, and the girls are all sort of in love with him, and how he fills that role of providing outside entertainment to their twosomes. And he turns 35 in the very beginning, which landed me smack dab in the middle of the "I understand this way too much" vortex. I over identified with his character big time. Like, I'm going to be 32 right? I have little to no idea what I'm doing with myself. Not all of my friends are married, but it's creeping up there. The show is much older, so in it marriage is still the normal expectation. I feel like it's less so now, still the majority of course, but I don't feel like I'm going to be ostracized if I never marry. The protagonist is a guy though, so he already feels that way. That's an odd thought, how my experience as a single girl in her thirties in 2011 is matching up to a single guy in his thirties experience in 1970. Not totally matching up, but getting closer.

It's a strange show, have I made that clear yet? Because Bobby goes and visits with each of his married couple friends in a different part, and sees a lot of ugliness in their relationships, and just a few moments of brightness, and there's no real processing of it, the scenarios are just thrown at you. There are a few parts with different girlfriends where his character seems completely vacant in between. Then he starts having epiphanies about how he wants someone to pair up with, and at the end you're left feeling really unsure if Bobby has decided to get married or not, but 95% sure you don't want to.

This is my 5%. I see no reason to get married. I'm not, I'm pretty sure, the kind of girl that can be. But if someone I really really loved (all of you, I've loved all of you) were to say, hey come live with me, and I'll pay for you while you write a novel and work out every day and do awesome things but we have to be married, and they weren't a monster? I would have a very hard time saying no. I feel like that's not even 5%, that's like 1%. .02% It's not that I think marriage should be that. As we've covered, I don't think I should be married. But if it were to happen, it would be like the only chance someone would have of getting me to sign papers. This makes me think of a recent conversation I had with a stranger about how I would never ever buy a house, because it tied you down to one place and got you stuck and everyone I knew regretted it. There is a small chance I may have a problem with commitment. Like, I don't understand it. I want it, but I'm not really sure how I want it? Or why? Or what for?

Anyway yes, I'm very mercantile and you can all be mad at me now. All .02% of me that is serious. These are the things a girl thinks about when she's had a shit day at work, and seen this musical about love and issues, and then had conversations about Slutwalk with pretty fervent feminists. I remember I said something like this once to my dad, and he got really upset with me. I don't think he understood that in my mind marriage exists as this weird esoteric tradition from another continent that doesn't make a lot of sense and throws me for a loop. It's a religious thing, and I'm not religious. It's a serious thing, and I'm not serious. When other people try to explain it to me, I get confused, the entire idea of one person forever seeming like the biggest most insane idea ever, and yet simple to so many, just not me. Like, I just want someone to go exploring with, is all. Why the contract? The real crux of the matter is I see this as a trade, pure business, me for something you're giving me. And I guess I set the price on myself pretty high, too high, higher than other people? I'm really not great at all on paper, I'm terrible on paper. I'm not for everybody or actually anybody, but the people I am for? If you're the type to appreciate the best parts of me, the parts that I love the most, then I'm amazing.

I'm like salted licorice.

It all makes me feel like a child, the slow march towards the settlement. Not that I think my view is childish. But that I am a little girl looking in a store window at lingerie she doesn't understand the use for.

The very best monologue from the show, which if I could find a clip of Christina Hendricks performing it for you I would, but I can't.

"Right after I got to college, a friend of mine who has a garden apartment gave me a cocoon for my dorm room. He collects things like that... caterpillars, insects, and stuff... It was attached to a twig, and he told me that one morning I'd wake up to a beautiful butterfly flying around my room when it hatched. He said that when they first come out, they're soaking wet and there's even a tiny little speck of blood in there -- isn't THAT fascinating -- but within an hour they dry off and begin to fly. Well, I told him I had a cat. I had a cat then. But he just said, "Put it somewhere where the cat can't get it!" which is impossible, but what can you do? So, I put it up on a ledge where the cat never went, and the next morning it was still there, at least so it seemed safe to leave it. Anyway, about a week later, very, very early this one morning, the guy calls me and says, "April, do you have a butterfly this morning?" So I put down the phone and managed to get up and look, and sure enough I saw a little wet spot, and a tiny speck of blood, and... no butterfly. And I thought, "Oh, dear God in heaven, the cat got it." I picked up the phone to tell the guy, and just then, suddenly, I spotted it underneath the dressing table. It was moving one wing. The cat had gotten it, but it was still alive. So I told the guy, and he got so upset and he said, "Oh, God, April, don't you see that that's a life? A living thing?" So I got dressed and took it to the park, and I put it on a rose. It was summer then, and it looked like it was going to be alright; I thought so, anyway. But that man... I felt so damaged by him -- awful -- that was just cruel. So I got home and called him back and said, "Listen, I'm a living thing too, you shithead!" I never saw him again."


  1. "But that I am a little girl looking in a store window at lingerie she doesn't understand the use for."

    95% of me is totally with you on this marriage thing. I. just. don't. get. it.

    The other part of me wants a big party to celebrate me being in love. But I've been in love a couple of times, once pretty seriously, and it was pretty okay without a party. So many we should all just have parties for ourselves being awesome, because then if we fall in love and it works we basically get to double our parties.

  2. I want to see "fake weddings" become the new it thing, after this ukulele thing dies down. Like, we all throw big wedding like parties for ourselves, where we get to plan a bunch of shit and color coordinate and what not, but like just because.

    Mostly I want an excuse to make my best girlfriends dress up in certain colors.

  3. First? The ukulele thing is never dying down if I'm voting. :)

    Second, give me just a moment to swoon over NPH's talent. And Colbert's adorble commitment to the role. And the chick in the white dress was extra amazing. And did I mention I got to see this live at Avery Fischer Hall? *pants w excitement*

    Third, I too have mixed feelings about marriage, but I'm glad I did it. And for what it's worth, I think your stance on the whole thing - the indecisiveness, the healthy fear, etc - just show that you get the weight of what it should, or at least could, mean. So really, you're probably more likely to have a successful one than the average bear.

    And now I'll wrap up this novel. The end.

  4. Ells, that getting married song White Dress girl does was the very best song in the whole show.

    I already knew you saw this live. I mean, I don't think you told me. But I knew. I mean, a storm of elephants wouldn't stop you.

  5. I love salted licorice to a fault. erf.

  6. Love the story, hate salted licorice, married for 9 years and counting. I keep telling my single friends (and the same for married friends without kids) that they'll never get it until they get it...and they never do.

    I hope secretly my exes are single and reading along.


  7. I am with you, mostly. I mean, not on the specifics, necessarily, but on the not really getting it/not really wanting to get it. I am not _against_ marriage, and I don't think people are dumb for wanting it if that's what they want (though, man, do I hate going to weddings). I think everyone who wants to be able to get married should be able to. And I think that, if people are planning to procreate or own property or businesses or what-have-you together, they are pretty fucking stupid if they don't get things legalized in some way first. But for me? It would take a very specialized situation for me to consider it -- one that probably would involve heavy finances or being legally able to live in another country or something. And, you know, I was shacked up with my ex for almost 7 years, and neither one of us ever wanted to get married, and I certainly don't feel like our relationship was any less real or anything -- or like ending it was any easier than it would have been if we _had_ been married. (Though his parents would have been thrilled if we had just made it legal, already.) I mean, I'm wildly stupidly in love with someone and we have been spending ridiculous amounts of time together for the past 6 months, and I'm very happy...but would I ever want to not live alone, at the end of the day, again? Even with someone I love spending days on end with, who I see or at least talk to a lot every day? Realistically, probably not. Some people are just not wired for all this kind of thing, I think.


Who wants to fuck the Editors?