I watched it heading west on my way home at 3 a.m Friday morning in the western hemisphere, North America. It was not full, but the light it reflected on a clear night was spectacular.
It reminded me of the scenes on the red surface of Mars in the movie I just watched. Watchmen. The only movie I’ve watched in a theater in over a year. The only movie I’ve ever gone to see the first showing of, and at midnight to boot. I read Watchman, the graphic novel, many years ago. Still have it lying around. Impressed me then, and the movie impressed me even more. Damn, that was a spectacular movie. Special effects aside, the graphic depiction of human nature qualifies it as literature, in my opinion, so it ought to be hailed as such. That was one movie that surely tapped into the words and made them even more visual than the two dimensions of the flat page. Of course, imagination has no bounds when reading, so the pictures, the colors, the artistic vision are not necessary, and so neither is the movie. Nevertheless, this is how we entertain ourselves, and ideas must be presented as entertainment. The story, the book, the movie: all are superbly murderous, bloody, violent, tragic, lusty, depraved and, yet, somehow more than that, and much more than entertainment.
Such a story. Is it a tragedy? It ends with horrible destruction, them hope, and finally, a theme that runs through the entire movie ends it: mankind sucks. We could do better, but we don’t. Even the noblest among us would sacrifice millions to save billions, and lie about it. And the lie provides the hope for humanity, and, in the movie’s ending, the lie is about to be exposed.
Of course, I had hoped to have seen the movie with Karen. She’d heard about the graphic novel, but it was out of print. She hadn’t tried to read it sooner because it was DC comics and, not Marvel. Growing up, of course, I knew about the superior writing in Marvel comics, the multifaceted characters, the gray areas of truth and right and wrong, and the real life, love and rejection, paying bills, death, and jobs and tiny human dramas on the sidelines of every larger action. The stuff that goes on even if you’re a superhero. Karen admires that about Marvel and doesn’t care for DC comics. I told her it was worth reading. By the time I found my copy, it has just been reprinted, and she had already bought a copy. She hadn’t read it last time we spoke of it, so I’m not sure what she thought. We have similar ideas about war and peace and science and fiction and religion. We’ve read many of the same books, seen many of the same movies, and admired the best of humanity in all of it. Unfortunately, the difference in our ages prevents us from seeing something like Watchmen together.
When I asked her if we could see Silver Surfer together – that’s when she let me know. She said, “That would be like a date!” with a look of horror or disgust on her face. “Inappropriate.” That’s the word she used many times. Inappropriate for me to ask her out, to want to meet her after work, see a movie, have a drink, give her flowers. Even leaving aside my romantic interest in her, she can not even think of me as friend outside of the workplace. I rarely see her anymore; we work in different buildings, for different departments, but, occasionally have lunch still.
As intriguing as the movie is, I still found part of me wishing I could watch it with Karen. I didn’t ask her. I know it’s beyond her to imagine going somewhere with me. She’d rather go to a play, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail, with her uncle than with me. I guess old men are OK if you’re related to them. It’s not even sad anymore to think about. It’s something I’ve had to accept, like my former wife telling me I had to move out, or she’d call the police, tell them her life was in danger. Very effective. Very legal. I could have challenged it later, but by then, I’d have been out, and why would I want to live with someone who’d done that to me? And Karen. How nice it would have been to tell her about all that, to have a friend I could talk to, who would listen. She wouldn’t listen – it was also inappropriate to speak of anything personal. I’m not really sure why. I could understand a woman not wanting to hear about my disintingrating marriage or the end, when it came. But, even later? Long after the divorce, she wanted to hear nothing of it. Of course, sometimes I think it was just because she didn’t want to encourage my inappropriate feelings for her.
But, life goes on. Sort of. In Watchmen, life goes on, but the underlying tensions are not gone. Even the deaths of so many millions can ultimately have been for nothing. I understand the characters in the story who speak of the pointlessness of it all, that we have exactly the society we wanted. We are violent and selfish and greedy and murderous. Perhaps we’ll never change. We cringe at horror, but do little to stop it. We even participate in our own little ways.
And me? I go on for some reason. Inertia? I don’t know. I move along with work, with my union activities, with reading, and movies, and guitar, and hiking, and it’s not doing a whole lot for me. If it were doing something for someone else, perhaps I could accept that as my motivation. I’m just not really sure I care about anything anymore. I was happy enough being married to someone I loved, even if not every day was a good one. I could have gone on that way for a long time, maybe forever. When it fell apart, and, abruptly it was over, I found myself insanely in love with Karen. I felt so good, so alive, so ready to fall in love all over again. It was exhilarating to believe in love, to think I could actually have the “in love” feeling again. That would have given me a real reason to enjoy life and want to go on. The chances seem slim now. I feel a great sense of accelerated aging, of death coming soon. I don’t fear death. I would like to be happy while I’m alive, but perhaps it’s just not possible anymore. I don’t even know what would make me truly happy. Karen. Well, there’s her, and my feelings for her. I’d certainly be happy being with her, but it cannot be. So, I seem to be rejecting all possibilities that come my way: the old girlfriend back in my life, the other former lover living close by, the union sister who tried to interest me in dating a friend of hers, or even herself – why am I so withdrawn, so quick to misunderstand, so quick to push people away?