Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Forgetfulness is bliss

Fifteen years ago (!), there was a line in a movie about life being “like a box of chocolates.” Because you never know what you’re gonna get.”

And how. Who knew that Forrest Gump was gonna get that year’s Oscar for Best Picture over Pulp Fiction and, for God’s sake, The Shawshank Redemption? That Tom Hanks was gonna get Best Actor in the title role over John Travolta and Morgan Freeman in those other two films, and Paul Newman in Nobody’s Fool? That Tom Hanks would not win Most Hamfisted Mentally Handicapped Person’s Accent Since The Guy Who Does The Menard’s Commercials? (And the fact that such an award, and probably Menard’s itself, didn’t exist then is no excuse.) Or that Forrest Gump won Best Adapted Screenplay over the aforementioned Nobody’s Fool, an adaptation of what is easily one of the truly great American novels?

For that matter, somebody didn’t know what they had in their hands when they didn’t give Richard Russo the Pulitzer Prize for Nobody’s Fool after he wrote it in 1993, though to their credit they gave it to him in 2003 for Empire Falls, which is still a giant of a book but certainly no Nobody’s Fool.

But Forrest Gump did give us one of the most over-used painfully obvious aphorisms since “candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.” As with a lot of theorems, the real truth is in the axioms. Here’s mine:

“You never know what you’re gonna forget.”

Not that forgetting is a bad thing. An entire cheap-liquor industry is based on the desire. This morning, I managed to achieve blissful forgetfulness without a single drop of George Dickel; just travel, unsympathetic deadlines and sleep deprivation (cue that Dorothy Parker line back up). I stumbled into swim practice having, at some point since Monday, become newly and completely unaware we were scheduled for a lactate-threshold workout. The details are unimportant; it’s just as unpleasant as it sounds. A lactate-threshold set is about as pleasant as, even if a good deal shorter than, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, which I’m happy to say was hip-checked off the Pulitzer podium by Empire Falls, so at least that turns out okay. (note: I seem to be alone in my distaste for Franzen's masterpiece.)

Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t have to spend my drive to the pool worrying about a lactate-threshold workout.
Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. No wonder I’m such a happy guy.

Don’t forget tomorrow evening’s Trizophrenia book-release party at Schuler Books and Music in Lansing. I know I won’t. Not before, and not after.


Patty Mallett said...

No, you're not alone. Your wife also thinks the Franzen novel sucked.

Anonymous said...

Right on;
"Let's not ruin this with a Wall Street joke"


A teacher for 25 years, now on a MUCH smaller income. But thanks for the school setting and the great kids, and I love Mrs. Olson. Had to retire before I became her!
S. Forsman