The End of the Affair, by David Sedaris
Last night, Hugh and I went around the corner to see The End of the Affair, a Neil Jordan adaptation of the Graham Greene novel. He sobbed from beginning to end. And by the time we left the theater, the poor thing was completely dehydrated.
I asked if he always cried during comedies, and he accused me of being grossly insensitive, a charge I'm trying to plea bargain down to a simple obnoxious. Looking back, I should've known better than to accompany Hugh to a love story. Such movies are always a danger as, unlike battling aliens or going undercover to track a serial killer, falling in love is something most adults have actually experienced at some point in their lives.
The theme is universal and encourages the viewer to make a number of unhealthy comparisons, leading to the question, "Why can't our lives be like that?" It's a box best left unopened. And its avoidance explains the continued popularity of vampire epics and martial arts extravaganzas.
The End of the Affair made me look like an absolute toad. The movie's voracious couple was played by Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore, who did everything but eat one another. Their love was doomed and clandestine, and even when the bombs were falling, they looked radiant. Something about Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes put me on the defensive.
I'm not as unfeeling as Hugh accuses me of being, but things change once you've been together for 10 years. They rarely make movies about long-term couples and for good reason. Our lives are boring.
The courtship had its moments, but now we've become the predictable part two no one in his right mind would ever pay to see. Hugh and I have been together for so long that in order to arouse extraordinary passion, we need to engage in actual physical combat. Once, he hit me on the back of the head with a broken wine glass, and I fell to the floor, pretending to be unconscious. That was romantic, or would have been had he rushed to my side, rather than stepping over my body to fetch the dustpan.
Call me unimaginative, but I still can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with. On our worst days, I figure things will work themselves out. Otherwise, I really don't give it much thought.
Neither of us would ever publicly display affection. We're just not that type. We can't profess love without talking through hand puppets, and we'd never consciously sit down to discuss our relationship. These, to me, are good things. They were fine with Hugh as well until he saw that damn movie and was reminded that he has other options.
The picture ended at around 10:00. And afterwards, we went for coffees at a little place across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens. I was ready to wipe the movie out of my mind, but Hugh was still under its spell. He looked as though his life had not only passed him by, but paused along the way to spit in his face.
Our coffees arrived, and as he blew his nose into a napkin, I encouraged him to look on the bright side. "Listen," I said, "We maybe don't live in wartime London, but in terms of the occasional bomb scare, Paris is a pretty close second. We both love taxidermy. We take vacations to fun places like Croatia. What more could you possibly want?"
What more could he want? It was an incredibly stupid question. And when he failed to answer, I was reminded of just how lucky I truly am.
Movie characters might chase one another through the fog, or race down the stairs of burning buildings, but that's just for beginners. Real love amounts to withholding the truth, even when you're offered the perfect opportunity to hurt somebody's feelings. I wanted to say something to this effect, but my hand puppets were back home in their drawer. Instead, I pulled my chair a few inches closer, and we sat silently at our little table on the square, looking for all the world like two people in love.