It’s something of a surprise to find your heart on the floor, still beating. It was right where it always was a minute ago, thumping away, irrigating the brain, making sure toes and follicles were well-surprised, but then holy crow your chest got cracked and it was removed and dropped and you realize your wife is waiting for a response.
“I know, it’s a big thing,” she says, “but it would be such an experience. Learn a foreign language, a different culture.”
How did this begin? Right. They went to a movie set in France. Daughter had come home and said “We’re moving to France.” I’d laughed.
She wants to move to France, I’d said to my wife as we sat outside on a fine warm night. That was when the heart was where it was supposed to be.
“I know,” my wife said. “She wants to take her senior year and be an exchange student.”
It’s something of a surprise to find your heart on the floor, still beating. It was right where it always was a minute ago.
“No,” I said.
“I knew that’s what you would say. I agree, it would be devastating. But what an experience for her.”
I picked up my heart and poured some vodka on it and stuffed it back. The brain, shocked from the heart’s sudden expulsion, started coming up with what it does best: rationalizations and reassurances. Won’t happen. Sudden fancy. We’ll still get three more years. Next year will not be the penultimate Christmas. The problem is, the best argument you can make also happens to be coincident with the most selfish. The kid’s going to leave. That’s what they do. It’s your job to get them ready. This shouldn’t fall to strangers in France. Also, your parents die. That’s what they do. That last year before you leap, well, it’s time well spent.
Like I said, the most selfish. And the best! But the most selfish.
Well, she just came down, and mentioned nothing about it. Talked about wanting to find a blanket on Amazon that had a Renaissance painting embroidered on it. We got to talking about other things:
Batman vs Superman and the pointlessness of such a struggle
The lameness of the Green Lantern (defended in principle by me)
The World’s Fair
Courtroom lawyers, and why it would be fun to be the person who said OBJECTION but otherwise not so much
and many other topics, NOT ONE OF WHICH involved France, except to talk about their small fridges, and how the kids can drink wine.
By the way: I have an inordinate number of writing obligations this week, and unfortunately they coincide with the mid-summer fortnight lull - the time of the year when I can't be bothered to think of much beyond the green and the blue. So things will be a bit short. Unless I get spun up about somethung, which is always possible; most days I am pre-spun for your convenience, and it's just a question of whether I do anything with it.
It's time to begin the second batch of Kelvinator Custom Fridges, ready to Kelvinize your food and enliven your kitchen.
I don't think these sold well. But who knows. The Alma Mater looks good for a few beers, and little else . . .
. . . and the "Pennsylvania Dutch" has that "Saucy Milkmaid" touch we associate so readily with an insular religious organization.
What nation do you think made this movie?
Correct. Building on their penchant for semi-naked men in the producer’s logo, we have this:
And then the credits . . .
. . . which consist of a fellow running. For about five minutes. I’m serious. But there are lots of credits, so we put up with the running because we know it’ll be over when we see “DIRECTED BY.”
There's promise in these early shots.
The film takes place at the Space Place for the Study of Space Institute, or something. Straight away we meet an old friend:
Recognize him? If not, you must be . . . corrrrrrected. Or you can imagine him as Alex’s kind, weak, hapless, sniveling modern father in “Clockwork Orange.” Anyway: it’s a British sci-fi movie, which means you must adjust your expectations. It’s set in offices and houses and has no special effects beyond some theramin-type music and spooky close-ups. Like this:
His head blew up! Why? Because he was part of a project that’s trying to . . . oh, it’s hard to say. Something about using some space dust to astrally project astronauts to other planets without space travel. But what if aliens had already figured this out?
AND WHAT IF THE MAIN CHARACTER’S WIFE WAS ONE OF THESE ALIENS?
Because, you see, she sleeps with her eyes open. Here where things really go off the rails. When Prof. Dr. Grady tells our hero that he’s probably just imagining things, every possible standard of British behavior is violated. Herewith the shocking display:
Eventually Professor Doctor Grady realizes that the wife is probably an alien, because he sees her take a dish out of a hot oven without an oven mitt. BTW, here’s the wife - lovely bird, yes yes, but check out the grocery store sign:
Our hero is John Neville, who provides us with our Star Trek connection; he played Galileo in a TNG ep. No doubt on the holodeck. He's fine here, looking incredibly tense and repressed. Eventually the man married to the woman possessed by aliens is taken off the secret project for security reasons, and is given some bland reasons. Once again, the very fabric of British discourse is shredded.
Will they reveal the wife? Will everyone else turn out to be aliens except the people the film has trained us to suspect? Will we actually see any aliens, or is this nothing but portentious close-ups?