Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gone With The Wind

God really had a laugh with me this past Summer. Met a girl, Elena, in Mexico who had grown up thinking Scarlett O'hara is the ideal American Woman and Rhett Butler is the ideal man. That's funny because I've always thought Ignatius Riley, from Confederacy of Dunces is the Ideal man and Hana (Juliette Binoche) from The English Patient is the ideal woman. Thus began one of the most bizzare affairs in the history of mismatched men and women. That we both took our ideals from fiction explains a lot about how we tolerated each other at all. All four characters are basically tragic figures and all six of us were on a crash course with disaster.

In the scene below Scarlett has just received a nice green hat from Paris. Rhett is sitting nearby and this sideways glance that Vivien Leigh gives is classic. She makes sure Rhett isn't looking and then intentionally turns the hat backwards and asks, "How do I look?"
Rhett sees the hat on backwards and says, "Don't you know how to wear a hat?" and all the attention is on her. He fixes it and then she says, let me, and ties a bow and he realizes she's messing with him. That is not only a fantastic detail (note the wedding ring on her finger. She's oblivious to the fact she's wearing black because her husband died and she's supposed to be in mourning), but it was exactly how the girl in Mexico acted. I'd like to say she looked like Vivien Leigh but she looked better than Vivien Leigh. Fiddle-dee-dee.

speaking of wearing your hat backwards...from R to L: here's me, Elena (Scarlett 2.0), a couple whose names I can't remember and Ernesto.

We were alone at a bar in La Paz called Salsipuedes (trans. Leave if you can) and I was crying because I thought romance was dead. Elena said, "Le's go, baby. I haf plans." I wanted to keep her there, to keep drinking and talking. But she sounded serious so I paid the bill and walked outside. She started to sulk.
"I ha'e you right now."
Hate? What? What the fuck had gone wrong? We'd been getting along so well. I had promised to get her back in time for...
"I ha'e you for leafing." she said. "We were hafing foon. How you say, we were on a roll?"
And in a flash I understood everything.
"But we can go back." I begged.
"No, i's too la'e. Ta'e me 'ome."
She loved to say that with a pouting tone. Take me home. It was ever on her lips. Some southern belle.
"I want to strangle you." I said. "The fucking world is collapsing, Hannah Montana is destroying everything, and you are playing games?"
"Ta'e me 'ome, baby."
"I'm going to drive us into the sea of cortez. I'm going to kill us both."
"I ta'e a cab then."
She had no money, never carried any money.
"Alright. Goddamn it! Get in."
I opened the door for her and we sat looking out the window.
"Ta'e me 'ome."

I put on some music by Bucks Fizz, music she liked, but it didn't help. You would think I could have taken control of the situation but it was complicated.
"Go tha' way," she said for directions.
I turned the opposite direction.
"We'll get there. Just relax."
I was drunk and ran every light through town. Horns blared. Elena never said a word. She sat examining her nails until I opened the door for her. To look at her you would have thought we were in a closed carriage in 1869 with silk ribbons hanging from the horse bridle, instead of a rusting 1969 Ford Van with a stinking moped and dirty sheets in the back. I was sweating rivers and she took out a wooden hand fan I had given her and waved it in her own face, gracefully.

At her house, as I kissed her cheek very slowly, I was going to ask her to come to the beach, to discuss this whole thing in detail. Her cell phone rang. She lit up.
"Mande! Si? Si." Laughter. A completely different person. She squeezed my arm without looking at me and walked into her house, which was never locked. I returned to my van.

I was watching Gone With The Wind and trying to get a screen shot of Vivien Leigh. It was next to impossible. Her expression changes every two frames. They say she was bi-polar and manic depressive. I guess chemically balanced people don't become great actors. She was more of a stage actress which makes her close up shots so incredible. Check her out in Streetcar Named Desire. The lady is English and won Oscars for playing two southern women. Those eyes are unbelievable. Unbelievable. I would click on the screen shot button thinking I was going to get a smile and I would end up with something else. I tried to anticipate an expression change but would guess too early or too late. It took hours to get just this one screen shot. The whole process reminded me of hanging out with Elena in Mexico. I could not pin down one screen shot. I was always a little early or late. Vivien Leigh only acted like Scarlett for the time period of the movie. Elena acted like that her whole life and she was an expert. She was better than Vivien Leigh. There was never a break. She was living her own private Gone With The Wind and I was just a supporting role. This is for you, amor. You want immortality? You want tragedy? You've got it.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.