Last night I went to a movie screening at Outfest. Cathy Brooks had invited me and a few other LA friends to attend. My experience has been that Cathy invites me to one or two things a year and they are always great things that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. She had told me that is was a movie about women more than it was a movie about lesbian women so I almost brought my 13 year old daughter. I am so happy I didn’t.
I don’t mind going places alone. It’s not my favorite thing to do but I really enjoy people and it’s been said that I’ve never met a stranger but this was different. I walked out of the elevator to the DGA West lobby and was surrounded by women, most of them close to my age. In keeping with my general insensitivity I expected to see a lot of short hair, sensible shoes and some flannels. For the record there was not one flannel and the women ranged from stunning to sensible, they were representative of the women in Los Angeles.
I’ve been to a zillion gay bars. And when I say “gay bars” I mean bars with beautiful men dancing with each other. There’s something very safe about it. I realized standing in the DGA lobby at 42 that I’d never been to a lesbian event. I felt incredibly out of place, curious and uncomfortable (but not in a bad way). I knew that my life was different than most of the hundreds of women’s lives in the room and that they had a shared experience that I’d never have.
I guess that’s a snippet of what it’s like to be gay… except that no one has ever hated me just for being me.
So the film started and it had some frenetic moments, it was like we’re over here, no we’re over here, it’s disjointed, I’m uncomfortable and then it would all pull together and you’d languish on scene from their lives and it would be familiar… which left me uncomfortable because there was this sense, this horrible sense that inside every beautiful home is nightmare of abuse, neglect and sadness. I was easily moved by the film, they set the pace and I dutifully followed.
Just as I couldn’t take anymore there was a rebirth, a love affair that wanted to start with sex but couldn’t and it was good, but it was graphic and if I’d have taken my daughter I’d have been the worst mother in the world (this is not an exaggeration bloggers never exaggerate). There’s also cancer and since tomorrow is day one of chemo I found myself extra blubbery.
I don’t know when A Perfect Ending will screen again or where. In addition to being a story about women and the relationships we have (that the main one is a lesbian relationship is actually incidental to the story) it’s a movie that features one of the most beautiful women you’ll ever see on a screen in the prime of her life along with women who… (and forgive me for this horrible statement) women who used to be beautiful.
In high definition I looked at Barbara Niven’s almost 60 year old stomach on a 22 foot high screen. She sees stretch-marks, I see freedom. She felt uncomfortable I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Her valor is my nightmare. She is still a beautiful woman, we just don’t recognize beauty over age 23.
I’ve talked before about how I’m not a woman who worked in media in her 20’s. I never made more money, got better jobs or closed a sale because I was beautiful. I didn’t trade on my looks in any way. I thought that since my first chapters were behind me and looks really didn’t matter much I wouldn’t be challenged or sad when they started to fade. I wrongly believed that I wouldn’t mourn losing a flat belly, perky breasts or firm skim. I thought that I’d marry my husband, grow old with him and we’d be that adorable couple who finished each other’s sentences. I’m the woman who earlier today wandered to the 3rd floor at Barneys for a pair of boots, tried them on and realized I looked like I was wearing my daughter’s costume and then left the store feeling dejected when I should have been delighted that I have a husband who loves me and who will trot all over town with me. I should be overjoyed that I have two healthy and happy kids who bring life into living.
The May/December aspect of the movie made me cry and still does. It was so liberating, so refreshing to look at beautiful women with wrinkles, backfat and thick middles but it struck me as sad too. Sad that I’m not yet okay with what I have.