John Hughes died today, and not too much older than I am right now, oddly enough. I wrote or said in a podcast once that if you can bottle mediocrity then you can rule the world, and after I learned of Mr. Hughes’ passing today I understood something very important that I missed in that essay/podcast. While it’s still true that if you bottle mediocrity you can rule the world. If you make a movie about ordinary kids in an ordinary school, add a little grass to the mix, you don’t truly have a movie worth watching unless there’s a grand gesture at the end. You need a finish, an ending (if you will) worthy of sitting through two hours of crap. You can’t do a movie about two men trying to get home for Thanksgiving idling through a series of uninteresting events, and two or three noteworthy quotes, unless one man has no home to go home to. Uncle Buck is just a fish out of water movie without the big ending where you’re lead to believe he will now become a family man, and have a gaggle of children of his own. And even with Long Duck Dong, the grandmother feeling her tits, AND Anthony Michael Hall “supposedly” losing his virginity in a quasi-date-rape like incident in a Rolls, Sixteen Candles would have been nothing unless Molly Ringwall didn’t have her 16th birthday with the hot guy she had been pinning away over the entire movie.

What I’m trying to say is that I learned a new secret of writing, and entertaining. It’s not just being mediocre, it’s having a grand finale at the end so that we as readers can feel good about life because in life there are no grand finales, there is just a continuation of life. There are no happily ever afters in real life, just a moment in time where life turns on a fork in the road towards something else. I know it sounds so trite and discouraging, but it’s true. I understand that life is all about aspirations and goals, but in the end, when you reach those goals, if you don’t have any standing by afterwards you have nothing. I have a ton of girlfriend’s whose only aspirations are to get married and have kids. Worthy challenge, but in the end, what is that really? What comes next? I’m not sure many of them are looking beyond the walking down the aisle part of the whole thing. I’m not sure many of them are looking past the attention you get when you get pregnant for the first time, and the parties given in their honor, and the eyes that are fixed on them. I don’t think they look past the glamour that is their wedding night, or the projected height of romance that is a honeymoon. What they don’t ever realize is that marriage is sometimes a life of drudgery. As I get older, more and more of my friends are victims of infidelity, ridicule, misery, and financial crisis because their finances are tied to spouses who gamble and run up credit card bills. What they don’t realize is that sometimes no matter how good of a parent you are, your kids turn out to be assholes that you have at love regardless, and defend even if you don’t like them very much.

We writers are great at this grand gesture thing. We are firm believers in the altruistic nature of our protagonists; in fact we rely on it. If we ever stray, we come back and add regret, which cancels out any misgivings our protagonist had, and then the math problem that is our story is equals the whole again. I was watching Smallville tonight, and there was a scene where Lana Lang (Superman’s childhood sweetheart) told Clark that her parents had their first date at a drive-in movie. For her birthday he recreated a drive-in movie at his barn, and they watched it together; popcorn and all. As a writer I think this is brilliant, but as a real person I live my life in constant disappointment that no one has ever done this for me. As a writer I can create these scenarios until the proverbial cows come home, but in my real life I the best gift I ever received from a relationship was a colander, and I don’t cook. I would kill for someone to love me so much that they went to the airport and confessed it to the world, but I’ve been in many airports and never once have I seen that done. I’ve never heard of anyone flying to New York to meet a total stranger on the top of the Empire State Building for Valentine’s Day, or ran someone down at a party in the rain and professed their love for them. I’ve never been to a wedding where the wedding was halted over someone’s “true” love storming into the chapel, and I’ve never once known anyone to have fallen in love with the brother of the man they pretended to be engaged to while he was in a coma.

What I’m trying to say is that writer’s create life that isn’t real, it’s bigger than real. It’s the life they wish they had, and not the life that is, and that can drive them (me often) crazy. My friend, and contributor to this site, Renee, said to me in her last podcast that I didn’t know who I was. I wrote an essay a couple months ago about why I don’t need to be published to write … and so on and so forth. Today I’m writing again about writing; which oddly enough is the day after I wrote about not wanting to write anymore. Perhaps she is right, but I pose this question to my readers, and especially lipstick lady and renee (little r renee, not capital R Renee, cause there is a difference), these words that appear on my screen as I write is who I am, and it is as real as anything you live daily. They are as real to me as the soccer uniforms you buy, or the music you listen to and scrutinize (see lipstick, I read your blog ALL the time!). I worry about two things in my life on a daily basis, that my writings and my imagination will never come true, and that my writings and my imagination will come true. Ponder that for a while, and then ask the question again if I know who I am or not.

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