Roughly 25 years ago, someone rarely mentioned in this blog, my ex-husband, got it right for a change (gasp!), when he gave me Walker Percy’s book. In my restless shifting through the Berlin vacation sublet scene during this visit, I ended up for a week at T.’s, who had it in a yellowing original paperback version. Re-reading it, I realized I’d forgotten that it has very little to do with film, but everything to do with detachment from life. Moviegoers need not be detached, of course, and my own moviegoing is governed by the drive to learn from worlds I cannot possibly experience for myself. How could I be a gay man in an Alice Springs beauty pageant (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), for example, or a small Kurdish girl escaping war the only way she knows how (Turtles Can Fly)? But of course I understand detachment; it’s what I necessarily must do every time I truly enter someone else’s film.
Recently I've realized that finding a truly good film (which happens perhaps once a year), is a bit like finding a truly good man. But the numbers are, frankly against me. I’ve been a discriminating moviegoer for some 25 or 30 years and have learned to bring sophisticated screens to bear when choosing films. I probably see nearly 3 films weekly on average, between theaters, rentals and downloads. In contrast, I’ve only been dealing with dating in Europe for three years. And I have to admit I dedicate substantially more time to moviegoing than the whole dating routine, which I treat only in fits and starts, often tossing in the towel for weeks or even months at a time. The way I date would be rather like walking up to my crappy neighborhood, sure-dubbing-is-great-because-reading-subtitles-is-so-tiresome theater and expecting the best of von Trier or Claire Denys or Mike Davis to magically appear.
So the real question, it would seem, is whether I am willing to give dating even a fraction of the attention I dedicate to film. Could I give up even one third of my movie-going experiences? Two hours is more than enough for a first date, but could I actually manage this once a week? I feel a palpable reluctance to even contemplate it. Could it be that men are so much less important to me than film? That hardly seems possible, so it must be that my screening process is still completely inadequate, or I wouldn’t be having so many horrifying dating experiences. So hmmm, it's quite clear that I simply must apply myself more diligently to the dating problem. Sigh. Moviegoing is just, frankly, so much more fun.