Oh, readers. You’ll love this. I mean it; you’ll love this, because by now you think you’ve copped on. “Sarah can’t possibly have this many physical problems, she’s a head case who exaggerates minor physical discomforts for the sake of the story,” you’re saying to yourself in my voice at this very minute. I do mean this minute. I wait until each and every one of you is reading, then I say it along with you. (Hi, Don & Suzie, congrats on the move!).
Hollywood, I have the ultimate pitch to you. I want to pitch my movie about the sequel to Love Story, only this is very real and the coveted age 40-65 movie target audience will come for this one. They truly will.
We start with the wife, and this IS based on a true story, somewhere out there some superheroes disguised as EMTs and firefighters will corroborate… taken to the ER with what we now know was an extremely sudden attack of benign positional vertigo. The entire world was spinning, I could NOT stop puking, I was lethargic and confused, and wasn’t ambulatory. Simply put, it was like being drunk on a Tilt-a-Whirl after you’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner then stepped into an anti-gravity chamber. Hm. I need to work on “simply put.” Anyhow, the vertigo is expected to last six weeks or so, and I frequently get so dizzy I have to stop everything and sit on the floor, or I’ll get there one second later but land on my face.
We meet the protagonist, Mac. He’s NOT George Clooney, he’s had to live a real life, so go find an actor that has DONE that, thank you. Mac is now married to a person who cannot pick up their beautiful adopted baby from off the ground, lift the baby or carry him for more than a minute, put him in a carseat, or, for that matter, drive. (I still get so damned dizzy that I get carsick while I’m driving. One or two things my cop father said are rattling around somewhere in my brain, thus I respect a car is a deadly weapon in the wrong hands. I have taken myself off the road before I get myself or someone else killed).
Mac’s school year is all but done, he’s mostly researching and writing. Don’t let that fool you; that’s still a 40 hour work week, when done by serious professors who give a damn and are good at their jobs. Sitting on your butt and writing (for real) is WORK. His day is simple: get baby up, feed him, dress him, drop him at Learning Center (daycare), go to work, get baby, come home, amuse baby til dinner, make dinner, TV, bed. He has made it clear my character is welcome to join in, but if I don’t feel well enough, by all means he’ll get’r done.
Obviously I try to do what I can. Mac can nap while Baby and I watch Sesame Street and count our toes, or I give him an amazing new toy and he can hit other things with it. Today it was a spoon. Yesterday it was empty husk of a highlighter, the innards long-since sent to the Staples in the sky. I helped change the bed after Baby pooped in it and the clumpy, yogurty mess went all down Baby’s pant leg. That mess, by the way, was a grim reminder that Mac should double check he put a diaper on the kid before putting him in the crib.
That’s how tired this man is. He forgot the diaper entirely. Then thanked me for getting a clean mattress pad on the bed. Thanked me.
Think about that for a second.
Hollywood, take note: I am now writing the secret to the greatest screenplay of the last century, and giving it away for free, so at the VERY least give it some thought and then cast an actress who is 40 to play me, not a 22 year old who has a flat stomach and a $300 haircut.
Mac did Love Story, the original. His first wife died very young, of a cancer so vicious it couldn’t even have the mercy to end her days quickly. There was no Ali McGraw, no beautiful soundtrack, no Academy award nominations. It sucked Mac dry then left him for dead, except he was still here.
Now here he is, in a sequel that, like so many others, is a fainter shade of the real deal and nobody’s heard of the actress. A whole decade younger…should have been a safe bet, huh? Nope. Still calling 911, still getting huge medical bills, still seeing doctors shake their head and say “I’ve never heard of this before. Sorry.” And in the middle of all of this…he found enough love in his heart to dream of a son, and then Baby finally comes. Mac is now under studio contract to keep making this work no matter how much the actress is wandering off and on the set, taking weird pills, sitting for no discernible reason in the middle of the floor, making the whole house into an instant parody of the world’s shittiest ashram. The baby screams because he wants Cheerios, the soundtrack to the Wiggles is on permanent loop for the rest of our lives, and after cleaning up the poop, putting everything in the clothes washer, drying it, bringing it upstairs, feeding our kid and spending time with me…
HE thanked ME for putting the mattress pad on Baby’s crib.
Hollywood, I know you’re blowing me off, but believe me when I tell you every couple who has been in love through these times will see this movie. Anybody can fall in love. Hell, it’s so easy the Kardashians, David Hasselhoff, Voldemort and Donald Trump all did it, and remember Hasselhoff was quoted as saying “I’ve got taste. It’s inbred in me.”
The sequel is the better, braver movie here. It’s the choice to be a good man, a good father, a good husband, a good provider, a good son, and, with the time he was allowed, a good brother. THAT’S the angle, Hollywood. Show the choices people make when one has to be at 100% day and night, trusting the other will be there when the time comes.
She is here. No, hon, look down. On the floor. But I am here, and I’m grateful that “romantic movie” gives way to scary EMTs, poopy sheets and the grace to thank me when I do what I can as well as I can.
I love you Mac, as I can and from wherever I am. Yep. Down here again, kitchen floor. Thanks for making the sequel.