Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I AM DUCKIE.
(This essay is in celebration of tomorrow night's screening of Pretty In Pink (featuring Jon Cryer!!) at the New Beverly Cinema as part of the Mondo Diablo film festival.)
When I saw Pretty In Pink for the first time, it was like the fucking scales fell off my eyes. Prior to this, I'd always assumed that the reason I couldn't score with the ladies -- like, ever -- was because I was ugly. I mean, you guys see what I look like, right? I'm not hideous. I'm smart and funny and sorta charming and I dress interestingly, what's not to like? So I just assumed I was looking at myself with over-familiar eyes and figured there must be something I wasn't seeing. Maybe girls didn't like guys with big noses. Maybe I wasn't friggin' blonde enough. Maybe I shoulda been more footbally. I dunno. Something.
But no. The reason was because I was -- and still am -- Duckie.
Its more than just a surface thing, although at the time the movie was released I fucking DRESSED just like Duckie, even before the movie came out. That was a pretty canny portrayal of New Wave Geek Circa 1986, and props to the costume person, because I was wearing that vintage jacket / bolo tie / shirt-with-the-collars-up / hat combo. And I, like Duckie, was kind of nerdy, and smart, and bitter as hell but sweet and kind and friendly and approachable. So I mean, yeah, I was Duckie in that way.
What I mean, though, is that I am always -- always, without fucking fail -- the "best friend" of the protagonist. And despite the protestations of the geeky masses, Molly Ringwald got it fucking right when she insisted the ending be changed so that Andie ended up with BLANE. Sure, every geek in America cried in agony at that moment, but can I have a what-what, fellow Duckies? Does that always happen, or what?
It was my entire high school career. I'd fall madly in love with a girl, and end up being her best buddy in the universe, and we'd hang out 24-7, but the entire time she'd swoon for some big ol' hunk. The worst example of that was a girl named Jenni Adams. Boy, did I have it for her. And you'd figure she'd have it for me, too. We had everything in common -- same musical taste, same dress sense, same artistic leanings, same sensitive demeanor. We spent every possible moment together, too. Hung out, played music, went to museums. And yet she was in love with this hunky, dreamy actor type named Tom virtually the entire time we knew each other. Broke my heart.
It didn't end there, though. It continued for the rest of my life. I could list at least ten other instances over the years when I ended up falling for someone and playing the Duckie role in their life while they fell for fucking BLANE. It never fails.
I keep trying to analyze it. There's a huge part of me that thinks its the "nice guy" vs. "bad boy" syndrome -- you know it well, folks, the notion that people fall for folks they know are ba-a-a-a-a-a-d for them because they're exciting! and thrilling! and dangerous! and the nice guy -- me, usually -- gets left in the dust because they're safe and boring and drab. I think that's part of it. There's another part of me that wonders whether there are some guys that are "GUYS' GUYS" and some guys that are "girls' guys." And girls love hanging out with girls' guys, because girls' guys are the type of dudes who get along best with girls and kind of understand the female temperament and mindset more than the typical male one, but when it comes to the primal, hormonal mating instinct they're naturally drawn more to GUYS' GUYS because, well, they are REAL MEN. And some people fight that instinct as hard as they can because they know that Andie was meant to be with Duckie but they just can't fight the allure of BLANE.
And, well, part of it is undoubtedly that people can sense desperation from folks of either sex, and it is, as they say in Super Troopers, a stinky cologne.
But no, I think its more psychological than that. Check out how Duckie woos Andie. He sings "Try A Little Tenderness." He follows her around like a puppy dog. He pumps her up when she's down. He listens to her. He talks to her. He loves her. But is Duckie romantic? Duckie is not. I mean, he is in a really non-traditional sense, I guess, but then check out BLANE. How effortless it all is for him. He just swoops in there, makes those eyes at her, looks at her smolderingly, and ups the fucking ante on the pure chemistry. I think what Duckie lacks is that. And I fear -- I fear -- that my lack of that is what has made me a lifelong Duckie. For me, that requires effort. All the Duckie stuff, the singing, the romantic empty gestures, the talking, the listening -- no problem. Its that fucking BLANE smolder I ain't got. And that is why Duckie is so fucking bitter and angry at BLANE in the movie. He knows he ain't got that, and never will, really. Poor Duckie.
(I'm editing this last graf because of something Trix suggested, and I think she's right) I think the reason my current relationship has so much hope is that I'm shifting the paradigm -- instead of going for the Andie, I've finally found the person Duckie SHOULD have been after all along, Annie Potts' character Iona (well, age difference aside, har har!). That's the one *I* was *actually* hot for when I saw the film, even though I had kind of a Ringwald fetish at the time. Iona was the cool record store clerk with the awesome clothes and the cool hair and -- well, she was actually cool. I think she wants what Duckie has to offer -- charm, wit, verve, stylishness, kindness, love, stability, belief. There's people out there who want that, and those are the people who end up with Duckie in the end.
So, y'know, fuck BLANE. Duckie's my man.