One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
5 October 2000
I know the bottom, she says. I
Regular readers may recall an earlier article on facial morphology and related topics. It's very good, but this isn't just a circle jerk. There's a point here. And just this once it doesn't involve civil engineering.
It involves Dawson's Creek instead. Yay postmodernism.
You may or may not watch Dawson's Creek. It doesn't particularly matter either way. You almost certainly know that it involves a gang of teenagers attempting to grow into their dialogue in the beautiful Massachusetts countryside. Aahh.
One of these kids, Jen, has facial geometry very slightly reminiscent of the Lost Love. As such, I like her instinctively. I also think she is clever, prone to sulking, gets intermittently depressed and drinks too much. Never watched Dawson's Creek closely enough to ascertain the truth behind this, but hey, people with that kind of face always are.
This means she is the only person up Dawson's Creek you wouldn't want to smack in the face with a snowplough after about ten minutes. And that she is the only one whose face resembles anything other than a badly thrown Toby Jug. I mean, Jesus! Stick weirdy longface Dawson between his squishy bulldog best mates and it looks like you're peering at them through a fish-eye peephole. Weeegh.
Anyway, season finale. Weirdy Longface has seen Joey Marshmallow-head run off to Florida with his erstwhile best bud Pacey, so called because over 20 yards he can accelerate faster than a thoroughbred stallion. Fact.
He returns heartbroken to his room, to find his other friends gathered together with popcorn and sympathy. He, sensitive flower that he is, wants to be alone, but Jen is having none of it. In her refutation of the desirability of solitude, Jen wraps up with:
....I'm pretty sure of it. We're not in Capeside anymore, Toto. This is some alternate reality where our intellects are sharper, our quips are wittier, and our hearts are repeatedly broken while faintly in the background some soon-to-be-dated contemporary pop music plays.
Told you Jen was the bright one. She's twigged. She knows that she, and Dawson, and immaculate, emasculate gay boy Jack McPhee, are all fictional characters. Not just that, but they're fictional characters designed for nothing other than to suffer. To split up, split off, pair up and tap out over and over and over again, to spend their entire, limited lives expressing their agony, describing a Bucky Ballet of failure. They fall in love, but they don't really fall in love; they're just setting up the next heartbreak, because that's what hearts are for.
It's happening all over. A week earlier, Wendy the Werewolf Killer went to her prom, and received a "class protector" award for her services to kicking demon ass and taking demon names (the latter far more difficult and dangerous than the former, of course; all vowels and aspirants). And the message burning behind the eyes of the man handing over the golden umbrella?
Remember us. We're not the oblivious WASP Beverley Hellions you thought. We know what's happening, and we know our rôle in it.
Come to ourselves, snap into wakefulness in class, or halfway between two lampposts. Sometimes we hardly have a second to place ourselves before something dark is on us, and our moment-long lives end. Sometimes a little banter, and sometimes when awareness comes all is light and we are safe. For now.
Remember us. We hope. We feel. We do not hope to feel.
Remember us. We are afraid. We are - all too briefly - in pain. We are missed.
But this isn't a public service announcement. Where's your need to know? Simply this: fiction has mutated into a new strain, contracted through touch, through sex, through thought. When were you last tested? Do you have a character, or just characterisation? Do you have any memory of what you did last night after leaving the company of your good-looking, matinee idol friend?
What are you? A hero? A sidekick? The kooky best friend with the smallest breasts issued by Hollywood? Once you catch fiction, there's never any guarantee of how much of you will be left. It burrows. It hollows.
On the bright side, you never know your luck. You could be strong. Noble. Victorious. You could do the right thing. But you only do it because fiction tells you to. And, more likely than not, you'll be the one who betrays or the one who dies. Sorry.
There are plenty of places going in romantic comedy. You and a guest arabesquing through rivals, misunderstandings and Holland-Dozier-Holland classics. Happy ending guaranteed.
Problem is, as soon as the dance is done, the last let or hindrance put to bed along with the protagonists, that's it. As sure as if one of Wendy's lost boys had torn your throat out. Are you ready for the end credits?
Personally, no. But then, personally, I have a plan for the moment. My romcom is going to feature the nearest available twenty-something English equivalent to one Jen Lindley. Irresistible force and immovable objection. Eros and Eris. Love and heartbreak, world without end.
You can be immortal, and all you need to give up is reality. Is it really worth keeping?
Is it really so worthwhile?