Monday, June 16, 2008

A shot in the dark, a punch in the stomach

A couple of days ago I caught for the first time Adrian Grenier's HBO doc, "Shot in the Dark," about trying to get in touch with his father. (Grenier is the young star of "Entourage"; he also appeared as the boyfriend in "The Devil Wears Prada.")

Grenier was conceived in 1975 of two hippie parents. Basically, the dad wanted to be with the mom; the mom was torn---at the time the baby was conceived, the dad was living in a rooming house with five other guys. He said he loved her, but when she asked him where they would live once the baby was born, he couldn't figure anything out. She dumped him. (In the doc, she mentions that the father was a Leo, and that she repeatedly asked him, "Are you a lion or a lamb?" His passivity was unattractive to her at the time, and he remains passive nearly 30 years later.)

Grenier's doc is, for the most part pleasant and unhurtful. There's a bit about the dad's new wife hanging up on Grenier when he calls---she's been unable to have kids, and Grenier reminds her of that pain, plus his presence invokes the fear that Grenier's mother still has a hold on the dad. She and Grenier later meet and work this out, thank goodness.

I was watching the whole thing, taking it all in... It was mild, so I wasn't paying complete attention. Then there was a jolt at the end. There was a subtitle: "Reunion: Part 1." Still cinema verite, Adrian's dad drives up in a suburban mall parking lot, where Adrian is waiting for him. Dad gets out: "I'm sorry you came all this way. Sorry. You shouldn't have come. I have my own life now. I don't know why you're here. Maybe you can sight-see or something. Sorry. This isn't going to work." He gets back in the car, and Adrian looks after him in shock, then goes over to the camera-man and starts sobbing---"Did he just say that?" I'd watched the whole doc, coming to the conclusion that the dad was a nice guy...and then I was completely horrified by this ending. Thinking, "No, he didn't just say that." It felt like someone had just punched me in my stomach, and I started crying.

It was a trick. As the film itself had shown, Adrian and his dad had indeed had a pleasant reunion in actuality. The "rejection" bit was a fake thing that had also been alluded to earlier: "Wouldn't it have been awful if you'd been a real jerk?" (After the fake bad ending, there was also a fake hyper-happy ending.)

Best of wishes to Adrian and his dad. But what the fake bad ending reminded me of was a time back in Austin, a few years after my girlfriend and I had been broken up. We met up again unexpectedly at a club and hung out all night until closing. After getting along all night, we started to walk arm-and-arm back to her car---and then all of a sudden she dropped my arm and said, "This isn't going to work," and walked away.

Talk about a punch in the stomach. I actually threw up afterwards, not from drinking but from the cruelty of it.

That awful "girlfriend thing" happened back in 1998, I think it was. I'd never experienced anything like it before, or since, until I watched Grenier's "Shot in the Dark" last week, and re-experienced the same feeling... (Only his turned out to be staged, thank goodness. I felt so grateful and relieved when the explanatory titles came on.)

Julie's last post here flashed me back to that nausea of thinking you know someone, thinking you have some sort of connection, even if it's a truce of a connection--maybe the two of you can't get along, but at least you come to a detente and decide not to hurt each other further... only to have the other person suddenly punch you in your gut for no reason. What happened in Grenier's documentary was fiction, but it keeps happening to me in real life. I remain stunned by how cruel, and false, people can actually be.

1 comment:

McNunis said...

I actually came to your blog because i was looking for a Scott Fitzgerald Quote that you had back in 2008. I've had a read of a few of your posts, and have found your insights into the subject matter very much similar to how i've perceived things.

In this scenario, i've had that done numerous times to me as well, all by the same person. Telling me that things were good enough at the peak of it.

It surely makes one sick, physically, emotionally. And it's not something that i'd wish upon my worst enemies.

keep up the writing!