There are moments in a relationship when one can know with absolute certainty that life has inexplicably shifted. This may come without warning or it just might be preceded by a scenario steeped in that “too late to turn back now” futility.
You generally have the presence of mind to think:
“Ah, excuse me world, when did I step onto stage 23?
I know I didn’t wake up in a sitcom or romantic comedy this morning.
Yet, at this very moment, I know that I must be existing in lines born from the mind of screenwriter. People don’t really have these conversations, we just laugh at them in theatres. Right?”
This happened to me the other night. It was strange because Sean and I don’t generally play these sort of “what if” games.
Whoops, I can hear Sean begging to argue that point.
Ok, so I may, on occasion, pose a question to Sean that is pretty out there. Call it entertainment on a budget. But, we don’t talk about celebrities that we are attracted to – that has always been so bizarre to me.
“Oh man, Jim is so hot for Angelina Jolie. She is his dream lay.”
Ok. No. NO. I don’t want to know that. I have absolutely no desire- zero, zip, nada whatever to know who Sean may classify as his “dream lay.” I trust that he is a guy and finds people attractive, but really, this is just not something I want to know anything about. He knows that I find Josh Lyman/Bradley Whitford/Danny Tripp incredible, but we have come to the conclusion that I just have a mad crush on Aaron Sorkin’s writing when personified by BW.
Back to the story, I’ve replayed it in my head, we just don’t do what we did. Ever.
I don’t remember how it started, but isn’t that the way it goes when you enter the Twilight Zone? No one thinks, hey, wait a minute, I’m entering the Twilight Zone. They just turn down a street or close the refrigerator door and POOF –
You in the Twilight Zone now, fool!
So, there we were, doing whatever we were doing and Sean says:
“You know in college we used to cast actors to play us in a movie.”
He proceeded to share with me the various actors that they had “cast” as the parts of his close group of rowing buddies. Knowing the friends I was able to sort of nod my head on a few of the casting selections, others I thought were maybe not so right on and I shared as much.
Then he said:
“You know who they thought should play me?”
Now, you, as the objective reader of this scenario are probably talking to the screen:
No! Amanda, don’t go there! You are heading into the-
Too late, I bit.
“No, who?” I asked.
“Hmmm, I don’t think that fits.”
Then we talked a bit about how he’s changed since college. Maybe he was a bit cockier, carried himself differently back then.
Maybe, I agreed.
“Ok, then. Who do you think could play me?”
If you haven’t figured it out, let me tell you, I have discovered that while most men do not ask if something makes them look fat, it should be explicitly understood that the “who would you cast as me in a movie” question is the male equivalent of the fat question.
“I don’t know.”
“I know who would play you.” And he said this as if I had failed by not having thought this through before – you know, he remembered my birthday, complimented my hair cut, and oh yeah, he took the time to figure out who he’d cast in the life story of Amanda.
“Jennifer Garner” he said triumphantly and with more than a little smugness.
“Hah! You said she was manly and unattractive the last time we saw her in something. Are you saying I am manly and unattractive?”
“No way. I only said that because you looked like you were going to make a snide comment about how she and her chest were costars in the movie. She’s definitely attractive. And you guys both have the strong, defiant chin.”
I was quiet. He was right. About the chin and the chest.
Sometimes in movies you really do have to sort of endure long stretches of film devoted to something that, let’s be honest, doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot to do with the plot. And, frankly, as you are sitting in a dirt and baby food stained tank top, with your hair in a messy topknot, you don’t want to watch with your husband. Or watch your husband watch. Even the most secure people can be brought to squirm in their seat by this stuff regardless of the level of interest in it by their partner.
He watched me. Literally, over the next hour as we watched tv and ate dinner he looked over periodically, his eyes boring into me as if he could penetrate my thoughts and figure out who I would cast.
“I really don’t know.” I said. He looked at me in a forlorn way and I wracked my brain.
“Ok, this may seem odd, but here’s someone who I think is attractive, appealing and very like you. He has a very affable way, great comedic timing and all American good looks.
“Ya. Jason Bateman.” I was pretty proud of myself. It was a good casting choice!
“Jason Bateman, he’s like what, some 80’s TV dork. Claim to fame, brother of Justine? What show was he even on?”
“I don’t know, but he has a great show on the air now, he’s handsome and funny.” I honestly thought is was a compliment. I like Jason Batemen.
“Sheesh, I don’t even rate an a-lister.”
“Sean, he is a-list. His show is great, they have the series on DVD.”
“He doesn’t do movies.”
“So I’m a mini-series? I’m not a movie. I am just some TV actor?”
“No! You are my wonderful husband who is too complex and too incredible to be played by one Hollywood person. Besides, Matthew Perry is a TV actor too!”
“I cast a movie star for you.”
“No you didn’t. Jennifer Garner is most definitely a TV actress. Daredevil and Electra weren’t exactly blockbusters.”
“Ya, but she got great reviews in 13 Going on 30.” he said with an amazingly straight face and sincere look.
“13 Going on 30? Are you serious? Do you hear yourself? We haven’t even seen that movie. I think we flew on a plane that showed that and you didn’t even take the complimentary earphones.”
After that, even Sean had to laugh. The subject dropped. But much like the one time a man says, “As a matter of fact those pants do make your ass look fat” it came back to haunt me.
A few hours later we were in bed reading. Briar was asleep and we were side by side in bed sharing the same schedule for the first night in many weeks. It was nice. His arm was beside mine, every so often I would shift my body and just enjoy the sensation of being together, the little chills as the hairs on his arm tickled me.
“You just couldn’t think of a single famous person to play me!”
“Honey, Jason Bateman is famous.”
“You couldn’t have picked John Cusak?
Or Zach Braff?”
“Sean, John Cusack is like 40 something, he’s way too old to play you! And Zach Braff? He’s too quirky. And not nearly attractive enough!”
“Sean, there aren’t any men the right age to play you.”
“C’mon, name some. Name two. Give me two actors the right age to play you.”
Silence, but with a grin.
“Ok Sean. Ed Burns.”
“The Brothers McMullen guy? Ok. I like that. I could see that one.”
“Actually, babe he’s too old.” I thought some more.
He went back to his book and his words about not rating an a-list actor hung in the air. And then, inspiration struck.
“Aha! Ok, I got one.”
His book dropped to his side and he looked at me, daring me to come at him with another lame candidate.
“Jake Gylenhall. He’s handsome in a very real way. Gentle, intelligent, appealing demeanor. Playful. Nice build. Yup, Jake Gylenhall.”
“All Right! Now you’re talking.”
And with that, we closed the door to Magee Central Casting.