We're All Damaged

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Lighter Side of Debilitating Sadness

The other morning I was on an airplane reading an article in the in-flight magazine about seafood restaurants in Cincinnati. These are the things we read on airplanes when we’re trying to decide whether or not the flight attendant will judge us if we order a Jack and Coke at 9 a.m. That’s when my wife told me that she was going to watch Marley & Me.

I put my hand on her knee and made my voice very serious. “I think that’s a really bad idea,” I said. But it was too late; her headphones were on, her emotional well-being doomed.

During college, I went with my mother to see the movie My Dog Skip. This was perhaps the worst decision I have ever made. For about 65 minutes, things were positively adorable. Skip was a frolicking puppy, and everyone was happy and I was planning my route from the theater to the Jack Russell terrier store. But then something happened that happens in every movie ever made about a dog: the dog died . . . slowly, over many soul-crushing scenes on a 40-foot screen.

As I shook and wept in front of my mother that day, I realized that I had no one to blame for this but myself. I knew what was going to happen to that stupid dog, and so did everyone else in the theater, but still we bought our tickets like a bunch of smiling morons. And, as Owen Wilson lifted a dying Marley out of the back of his car and my wife started sobbing in front of strangers over the Atlantic Ocean, she had no one to blame but herself either.

The simple fact is: people love to be sad, especially women. With all the horror and flesh-eating viruses in the world, our lives are comparatively not all that bad, and so we look for ways to test our own ability to feel despair. How else can you explain the success of all these doggy snuff films—or, for that matter, all the other evening-ruiners that we’ve collectively paid millions of dollars to see? I can’t even talk about March of the Penguins without calling my therapist at his beach house.

This has gotten me thinking about my own writing career. As the author of a world-famous blog with more than 62 followers, I’ve obviously achieved a certain level of prestige. But I’m ready to take the next step, and by “next step” I mean “buy a Lamborghini.” And so, just this morning, I’m happy to announce that I began work on my new novel, tentatively title, I Totally Wish I Was Dead. I’m only five pages in, but I’ve already managed to kill four puppies, a baby seal, a pregnant panda and that adorable kid from Jerry McGuire.

I don’t want to sound too confident, but I think it’s going to be really good. And by “really good,” I mean it’s going to ruin your month.

1 comment:

  1. On my flight Sunday, I had to remove my headphones with disgust about 45 minutes into Marley & Me...

    And by "I had to remove my headphones with disgust about 45 minutes into Marley & Me" I mean, "Matt Norman, I'm actually a man."