Somewhere along the way, I got hooked on HBO's "Sex and the City." I wasn't proud of it. I didn't advertise it. But I enjoyed watching the show week after week. I can't relate to any of the women on a level deeper than the fact that we all have the same alphabet soup of chromosomes. I was shocked and even occasionally frightened of Carrie Bradshaw's wild outfits and, if anything, the show solidified my tenuous belief that I could never enjoy living in New York City.
I wasn't really interested in seeing the movie. By the time the show had run its course, I think that the loose ends had tied themselves up neatly enough that I was sated. The main course was filling enough that I didn't even want to see the dessert menu.
Last week the movie showed up in my mailbox. Bubba's in charge of our Netflix queue and he apparently thought he'd order me a "chick flick" to enjoy while he was away on business. Weighing my lack of interest in the movie against my inherent abhorrence of all things wasteful, (and considering I finished my most recent book yesterday and wasn't ready to start another one last night) I popped the movie in the DVD player.
I found myself wrapped up in the characters all over again. I enjoyed the glimpses of true feeling and the complex dilemmas they were facing. Sort of. About 2/3 of the way through I began wondering just how long this movie was. I also started lamenting the fact that I knew how all of this was going to end up and that what I was really missing were the deeper conflicts and complications that fed into and would persist long past the surface resolutions in these relationships.
Ultimately, I was disappointed and I tossed and turned all night examining the reasons why. I have read enough books and seen enough movies to expect the happy ending. I know that it is impossible to entertain an audience unless you give them something pleasant to hold on to, especially if they are using the movie as an escape from their everyday lives.
I think what I realized is why I love books so much more than movies. Writers can explore those deeper, more intricate nuances of relationships. Writing the words gives the reader more license to find common ground and fillin the blanks. Seeing everything play out before me on the screen is like being spoon-fed my mashed baby peas. I only get what's in the spoon and only when the person feeding me feels like giving it to me. With a book, I can stop mid-sentence or mid-paragraph or mid-chapter and close my eyes to fill in the pictures myself. I can let my thoughts drift off to make other connections. I can underline, dog-ear, scribble notes in the margins to expand on things the author has said.
Books offer me such fertile ground in which to play.