Saturday, May 21, 2005

Arrested Development

I watched the Korean arthouse flick 3-Iron today. It's left me in a daze. Beautiful. Haunting. Ethereal. And largely silent. I was stunned into submission, obsessively dissecting the final, bittersweet ending where the lovers' combined weight added up to a ghostly zero and the stubborn line between dreams and reality finally blurred. It was like the story of Orpheus and Eurydice in a parallel universe where he was her shadow and she didn't look back.


Without divulging in detail, I must say lunch with Franpa bordered on surreal. Conversation veered from vacation plans to music to my supposed sexual promiscuity (ha!) to his affair with a much younger woman in New York to the state of my 'rents' relationship to his contemplation of divorce to resolve a 30-year, loveless marriage to an overly possessive homebody ("I don't like to be dictated. I want to live [my remaining years] for myself").

"I have more to say," he casually slipped in. "I'm a man, right? I need sex and she only give me sometime or never."

Right there, he crushed long-held prejudices I've secretly held. One being Chinese couples having anything resembling a sex life because accepting that would mean actualizing the gross possibility that my parents would have, at one time, enjoyed the company of each other's nether regions in empty phone booths and vacant parking lots (and that's just not cool -- especially since the soundtrack to those scenerios would undoubtedly be light lesbian rock, a la Clay Aiken). Joking aside, I actively reflected on the second issue: ageism. I knew I was guilty of committing this crime when my heart skipped a beat no sooner had Franpa finished saying the above statement. This man -- hovering above three times my age -- confessed to having a sex drive, a carnal appetite that needed to be quenched (still!). It took me completely by surprise. I'm not supposed to know about these things, I thought. Don't old people naturally fall into the habit of silently reading the paper across from each other at Denny's (or those special, meatball-serving IKEAs)? Apparently ... not. Apparently, the numerically-challenged don't drift off the edge of the earth upon reaching a certain age either. Apparently, cheerful demeanours merely obscure the truth about the golden years (which isn't mutually exclusive with being old, by the way): it's really a one-way street to cease being perceived as "persons" under the critical eye of a juvie-centric culture (which is what we're ultimately up to our necks in no matter how much we pride our fetishization of maturation -- pageants and pubescent models anyone?). I think we've been conditioned to associate youth with vitality, agility and progress. Does that also mean we value unnecessary risk-taking, self-absorption and serpentine logic undiluted by experience?

So I must admit it's a little embarrassing confessing my inability to distinguish obvious caricatured characteristics from the real thing. But at least I can say I tried preventing moral hindrance from polluting personal perception (for better and worse).

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