I’ve done two things in the past week:
1) I turned 23 years old, and barely survived the existential crisis that followed.
2) I rewatched Something’s Gotta Give–that other movie with Old Jack Nicholson that isn’t As Good As It Gets.
What is seemingly a harmless combination of things to do in the span of two weeks, is not.
I was 14 years old when Something’s Gotta Give came out in theaters and I had forgotten, until this latest viewing, just how it had ruined my life–and continues to.
The movie begins with the following voiceover from raspy-voiced, Old Jack Nicholson:
“The sweet, uncomplicated satisfaction of the younger woman. That fleeting age when everything just falls right into place. It’s magic time, and it can render any man, anywhere, absolutely helpless.”
While he’s saying this, the following montage is playing (accented by Crazy Town’s timeless classic, “Butterfly”–i.e. that song you heard for a solid two months during your morning drive to the high school):
Having recently turned my first chronological age since age 12, watching this scene again brought back a powerful memory: when I first saw Something’s Gotta Give at age 14, I very legitimately believed my life would be like that by age 23.
I would live in New York City, I would walk into coffee shops and know everybody, I would wear strappy little pink heels and walk down cobblestone streets without faltering, I would have a waist the breath of a popsicle stick–these were not dreams, these were just future realities.
Simply put, it didn’t matter if I became an actor or writer or doctor or veterinarian, the only thing that I knew in my heart of hearts, was that I was going to be Amanda Peet.
She was sweet and charming, and she was part of the Nancy Meyer Universe (Nancy Meyer ‘Verse if you watch Firefly), where everything just seems to work out–even when everything gets turned on its head, things work out, because hey, life can be a real betch sometimes, but it’s all we’ve got! Sorry, *beach. Life is a beach house designed entirely in freshly applied pastel palettes. It also stays perpetually clean even when the heroine is going through a rough emotional time, is all-around roomy, impeccably designed, and the fridge is fully stocked with everything from fresh pasta to pancakes.
Nancy Meyers has been criticized as being a modern-day fairytale writer–her stories are sometimes seen as implausible wish-fulfillment for the Average Everywoman who’s put her career, family, and financial stability first. But now that the kids are grown up, the bank account is steady, and she’s headed into her Golden Years, where’s King Charming to tell her that her neuroses are so adorable and clever and witty, that from henceforth he’s going to go ahead and combine “neuroses” and “witticism” into a word that he’s created just for her: neurocisms!
I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for all of it–I think Nancy Meyers is brilliant.
I hope that Ms. Meyers and her pristine white couches provide me with at least the three following sequels:
1) Something Gave, and It Was My Hip
After 10 years of unwedded bliss, Jack Nicholson hilariously trips and falls down the perfect steps outside the beach house he shares with Diane Keaton, and breaks his hip. While he’s undergoing physical therapy, Diane Keaton begins to feel threatened by the presence of a comely female peer who’s also in physical therapy for her recent rotator cuff surgery. Hilarity ensues.
2) It’s Intricate
The ever-gorgeous Meryl Streep has decided that nerdy architect Steve Martin is stable but boring, so she and her three gal pals jet off to India, where they will take pottery classes and reawaken themselves sexually! I see Dame Judi Dench as the sassy older lady who they meet in a tea shop. She take a shining to Meryl, and shares her wisdom. Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin works to keep his stepson Pedro out of jail.
3) The Permanent Relocation
After Jude Law’s untimely death by bacterial meningitis, his live-in girlfriend Cameron Diaz moves to England full-time and has to learn how to be a single mom to her two adorable stepdaughters. She hires a handsome butler, with whom she has many a romantic tryst in the linen closet, dumbwaiter, Italy, etc.
Meanwhile, back in America, Eli Wallach falls ill, and while Kate Winslet is nursing him back to health, Jack Black begins an affair with a quirky Blockbuster employee, who he grows to hate after she reveals herself to be a Channing Tatum fan.
Not being Amanda Peet by age 23 is a hard thing to come to terms with. Yes, I moved to New York City, just like those chicks in the montage, but I definitely can’t walk into a single coffee shop and know everyone. Unless I named my apartment “Coffee Shop” and my cat “Everyone,” which isn’t a completely terrible idea. I can barely manage walking in kitten heels over two feet of subway grating, and the last time anyone drew a parallel between me and a popsicle stick was in sophomore year ballet class, when the instructor told me my legs “looked stiffer than popsicle sticks” and that I should “try to relax them, if possible.”
To cope with the big ol’ chronological 2-3, I went home for a week–because also very unlike Old Jack Nicholson’s montage women, who were all nuclear physicists, I don’t currently have a full-time job. I stayed in bed, ate almost entirely mashed-potato-based dishes that my mom cooked to try and cheer me up, and debated just how much of a failure I’d deem myself if I decided to move home and pursue what Bender of the Breakfast Club called “a career in the custodial arts.”
It was during this week at home that I decided to revisit the Nancy Meyers ‘Verse, and realized that no, I have not become Amanda Peet in the past nine years.
I have become 60-Something Diane Keaton.
From her vast array of turtlenecks to her inability to enjoy herself even at that perfect beach house, she spoke to me. She berates the people she loves, she almost calls the cops when there is clearly no need to be almost calling the cops, she craves pancakes, she screams when people see her naked, she collects rocks, she dumbly stays friends with her ex, she opts for the baggy sweater cape over the flattering cardigan–even her aged voice sounds more like mine than the bubbly and well-diaphragmed Amanda Peet’s.
One scene, above all, sealed the connection betwixt me and Diane Keaton, and it’s one that pains me to acknowledge.
Up until two weeks ago, I cried at only two things: pet movies and sports movies. Then something happened. I’m not sure what–perhaps it was a combination of turning 23, and hitting my head on a chair when I sneezed one evening. Maybe it had something to do with realizing just how much I love my cat. Maybe I’m just beginning to realize that I’m an empathetic psychic who becomes possessed my lost spirits, just like, again, Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost. Whatever the reason, I have spent more than 50% of the last fourteen days crying.
I cry when I wake up, before bed, in the shower, before showering, right after showering, while I’m watching TV, while I’m not watching TV, on the phone, by myself, in public, at cathartic movies, at funny movies, at any movie, during the Superbowl, at the Clint Eastwood Chrysler commercial, when Zooey Deschanel mentioned The Olive Garden in her opening SNL monosong, ALWAYS. Like this:
There are, of course, differences. In the movie, Diane Keaton is divorced, but have I not been through many a non-legal messy breakup? She has a daughter, but is my cat not much like a tiny furry princessbaby? She once starred in Annie Hall, but have I not seen that movie twice? The only real difference is that Diane Keaton can wear white clothing, whereas I can only do that if I want to disappear.
And how does Something’s Gotta Give end? WITH DIANE KEATON’S BIRTHDAY. She writes a hit play, goes to Paris with her hot doctor boyfriend who’s going to propose, and eats one of the most delicious on-screen meals ever. For a moment, watching Diane Keaton stand on a picturesque Parisian bridge in the softly falling snow, I thought to myself, perhaps being Diane Keaton instead of Amanda Peet isn’t so bad. Perhaps it’s even better. And I found myself hoping that by age 60, I would have half of Diane Keaton’s poise, beauty, and ability to layer two long-sleeved shirts at a time and not look like an on-duty nurse. I found myself hoping that my life would be just like that last scene on the Paris bridge.
But then I realized that if Diane Keaton is my new Amanda Peet, Old Keely will end up having a lot more in common with Old Jack Nicholson.