Relationships

Five Movies That Made Me the Slightly Neurotic, Slightly Slutty Woman I Am Today

Nothing grabs you—and shapes you—the way things did when you were a kid

I was the one that you want.

When I was a kid, I lived a block from a really cool old movie theater that showed second-run films for a dollar. This resulted in me seeing the original "Rocky" 26 times, and "The Sting" just as often. I am nothing if not weird. And compulsive.

Sometimes I worry about kids in ancient times. Without movies, how did they know how to act? Where would you learn that if you were upset, you’re supposed to fall to the fainting couch and lift your arm to your forehead helplessly? Fortunately, I did not have to wonder where to learn my every dramatic move. I spent a lot of time not just at that old theater, but also watching the late show. And the late-afternoon show. And Sunday morning movies. Basically, if it was a movie not featuring cowboys or spies, I was all up in it.

What I’m saying to you is, I’ve seen a lot of films. And the following are the five that made me the slightly neurotic yet sensual person I am today.

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Gone With the Wind. OK, it’s racist. I can see how it might offend people. But when I was 10 and saw it for the first time, all I knew is I wanted Rhett Butler in the worst way, and I could never in a million years understand what the big deal was with that namby-pamby Ashley and his equally namby-pamby wife Melanie. It’s made me not want to namb or pamb about anything, ever.

Annie Hall. A quote from that movie was in my ex-husband’s wedding ring (the famous "eggs" line). Everything about "Annie Hall" was magic to me: New York in the ’70s; beautiful, young Diane Keaton; funny lines I understood at the time (“That sex was the most fun I've ever had without laughing”) and funny lines I had understood later (“My grammy never gave gifts. She was too busy getting raped by Cossacks.”). I wanted to be neurotic and funny and nervous, and guess what? Wishes come true.

Grease. This was the movie that taught me that in order to catch a man, you have to be slutty. Welcome, high school years.

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A Star Is Born. I saw no reason why I could not have big long nails just like Barbra Streisand, and I also kind of got a hankering for a big afro perm. What I eventually realized what I mostly just wanted was to bag Kris Kristofferson, and can you blame me? Oh, he was hot, and so troubled and sad, and I just described every boyfriend I’ve ever had. Kris Kristofferson even looked good dead. (Um, spoiler alert? Maybe you should attend a movie once every 40 years, bub.)

Rear Window. You can’t go wrong with anything starring Grace Kelly, especially Grace Kelly in a $1,100 dress. I did the research, and a $1,100 dress in 1954 is worth eleventy-nine trillion hundred dollars today. But back to the movie, and Grace Kelly’s beauty, her daring and her ability to manipulate Jimmy Stewart into marrying her. She was everything I wanted to be, other than the almost-get-killed-by-Raymond Burr part.

Since my childhood, there’ve been other movies: "When Harry Met Sally," "It’s a Wonderful Life," "Love Actually" (shut up). But nothing grabs you the way things did when you were a kid. So, thanks, Annie, Rhett, John Norman Howard, slutty Sandy and beautiful Grace. Tomorrow is another day because we all need the eggs.

   
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