I’ve been thinking about something that’s been bothering me – the emotional weight most women carry and the entertainment we consume. I notice the books/shows/movies I love are also the ones that generally lack a cultural gravitas. Silly things to fritter away the time, things that don’t have meaning. (Okay, yes – I am the same woman who’s watched every episode of Bret Michaels’ Rock of Love, so I understand where some of these assumptions come from!) But interwoven in the pain of life is levity, and some of my happiest moments have come from enjoying the “dumbest” things. And, in doing so, I feel that makes them, well, pretty damn great and very worthwhile. So here I make to you – a case for light things.
My sister-in-law has brain cancer. She can’t remember what a zip code is called anymore, but she hasn’t forgotten our ongoing joke: that she can’t pass away before the Sex & The City movie comes out. “You cannot die before finding out what happens with Carrie & Big.” “Obviously!” she replies. There’s a seriousness to our laughter, and laughter to our seriousness. We’re first in line opening day. Everything tastes like hot metal to her now, but we get movie popcorn regardless, clinging to small traditions. We gasp when we find out Steve cheated. We cry happy tears when Carrie finally walks down the aisle. We smile as we watch the four friends toast each other with Cosmos one last time. I turn to Penny and ask, “Worth the wait?” “So worth it!” She snuggles deeper into the seat, clinging to my hand. A melancholy washes over us as the lights come up. The theater is sold-out, and she can’t move fast, so we wait. We’re not ready to leave anyway. We stay to watch every credit, to hear every strain of music.
I’m sitting on the beach and I’m in so much emotional pain, I think my bones might break. One wrong move, and I will snap. It’s our first vacation together since my husband and I survived running for our lives the night of the Las Vegas shootings. When we took our wedding vows in Vegas I enthusiastically said “yes!” to have and to hold, for better or for worse. I didn’t know Vegas would later hold the very worst – “Will you take a bullet for me? Will you be the last thing I see before our heads get blown off?” We made it out, made it home, but the trauma echoes for me. I lost myself to a darkness I didn’t know was possible. But today we’re together, and it’s blue skies. I squeeze my husband’s hand before I open my Jennifer Weiner paperback, taking solace in the fact that the guy will get the girl, that happy endings still exist. I smile and tilt my face towards the sun.
My internet pal Susan needs me. It’s almost time for the Bachelor to start and she’s anxious to chat. Susan lost her job almost two years ago, suddenly laid-off with little notice from a longtime position. Despite a lengthy resume, she can’t get hired anywhere. “Ageism is real!” she tells me in a note. As the years stretch on, she’s finally forced to choose between homelessness or relocating from L.A. to Kansas City to live with her Bible-thumping cousin. She chooses Kansas City but confides in me somedays she’d rather be homeless. Her cousin is demanding and insists that Susan attend church several times a week in exchange for a roof over her head, despite Susan’s agnosticism. There is no rent, but she pays with her soul. She is miserable. But the Bachelor! That’s her fun time. We’re not in the same time zone anymore, so she patiently waits for the clock to strike 8 on the West Coast. Finally, it arrives. She fires up her DVR so that we can be in synch. We hop on Twitter and chirp away.
SATC’s legacy is now mocked.
Jennifer Weiner will never win a Booker Prize.
The Bachelor will never be prestige TV.
All of this silly entertainment. And yet… ohmygod the relief it provides. Isn’t that worth something? Maybe it’s time for light things to receive the weight they deserve. Sure, it’s lowbrow; but man, you should join us sometime. There is so much joy here.