Give 'Em Hell, Kid

Breakfast at Tiffany'sPaul Varjack: You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness." You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself. I'm a connoisseur of fantastic movie quotes. I read the one at the top of this post long before I ever saw Breakfast at Tiffany's, and wanted to see the movie before I made it through the first line. I just knew that moment was going to be fantastic. Breathtaking. Show-stopping. It was going to be the kind of moment I replayed on the DVD over and over again, to catch the little nuances.

It wasn't. The whole moment fell flat, in my opinion. It's a climactic scene, and I didn't feel the music swell up within me and sweep me away. I didn't get to ride that wave anywhere. I stayed, firmly planted on the other side of the TV screen, feeling what the actor delivering the lines seemed to be feeling: not much of anything.

Maybe I wasn't in the right mood to watch an older movie. That happens to me sometimes. I get restless and impatient and want a quick fix, a candy bar of a movie instead of a full meal. I should probably give Miss Hepburn another chance to wow me. Maybe I'll feel differently.

But what makes lines like this so amazing? Why are these moments so crucial? I think they're because I want to deliver these words sometimes. I want to say the thing that makes the world seem to freeze around me as an obvious truth, that had been veiled for far too long, is thrust into the light.

I don't get this opportunity very often. For some reason, my life is almost completely without the sweeping climactic scenes that usually take place at a train depot. Or maybe near the door of a waiting taxi cab. Or right as the PA system announces the final boarding call for Oceanic Flight 815.

Life rarely presents us with these dramatic moments though. I remember a time where I'd try to work them in anyway. I'd say something grandiose and sign off of AIM without so much as a goodbye. Boy, did it feel good. Like the dramatic slamming down of the telephone receiver of a generation with flip phones that couldn't be slammed for fear of having to buy a new phone out of contract with the ridiculously inflated prices that they charge since you don't get any of the new 2-year contract rebates.

The lines never stuck though. There was always something more to say. Always something that needed more elaboration. Always something bringing me back after the line that was supposed to deliver the winning blow.

I think it was the idea that winning, even if you are right, really isn't as satisfying as you ever think it'll be. That maybe, just maybe, once in a while, something else, or even someone else, is more important. And when you find it, or them, it's worth so much more than a fantastic quote to roll around on your tongue for the rest of the day.