Opposition Opposition (Inner Truth)

After the movie, standing by the ticket booth, the four of us are talking about Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Holiday, inspired by Linda and Johnny’s ability to escape social pretensions and unchallenging work. None of them have unambiguous character flaws, as far as we’re concerned, even brother Ned, the gentle, wise drunkard. But Johnny’s friends Professor Nick and Susan Potter are just too bright and funny to believe. So would anyone believe if I were the one to say “Let’s all take a table at a bar down the street; I’m buying”? After all, I’ve never taken much pleasure in being normal, and some things are more important than being alert the next day at work, or what my wife will think when I get home. Likewise, would any of us give up a good job and run off to Paris with Audrey Hepburn like Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina? You bet we would; all of us would; we’d love to do that, at least if we had all the money in the world, and we weren’t already married, or worried about the health of our parents. But we tell ourselves that making our lives where we are as interesting as the roles of the stars would be more realistic, although believing even that requires a willing suspension of disbelief, like accepting the idea that Professor Potter could make a living as a teacher. Let’s say we’d be content with less. Paris is only a symbol; a symbol of freedom and self discovery. Self discovery? We are old enough to have discovered ourselves already. Yet we are ourselves only part of the time; at other times, we are imitating a machine, or our mothers’ idea of a responsible adult, or pretending to be like Cary or Humphrey doing something noble. No, we admit it; we are less interested in heroism than in hedonistic preservation of our own sanity, which is much under siege, even if we watch old movies instead of TV. We are interested in people who aren’t paid to act ridiculous but who act ridiculous anyway, like ourselves, because they are plainly thinking about more important things. That’s why having character means being a character and embracing the oddities of our friends. Would I be the one to say that? Maybe, but, either way, this fantasy is another character flaw that makes life interesting.

Inner Truth