Saturday, April 11, 2009

… And try to be a little more vivacious

Back in January, after watching
The Reader, we posted a list of movies we’d seen featuring older woman/younger man combos. Chided by those who noted we hadn’t listed Harold and Maude, we added the film to our Netflix queue.

Now I’ve fallen in love with Maude. And the fall felt familiar.

By stealing cars, posing nude, and drawing happy faces on dour saints, Maude gave Harold permission to enjoy life, to live out the request his walking-dead mother made of him after one of his fake suicides: “Dinner at eight, Harold, and try to be a little more vivacious.”

I’d never faked a suicide, but before I met Sheri the face I gave the world was too often clench-jawed and squint-eyed. By stripping to skin on a sunny day in a meadow, savoring double-cheeseburgers, admiring a New Year’s moon on a frozen beach, and, yes, by dating me, Sheri blew a metaphorical noise maker in my face and said, “Lighten up, young man.”

Her favorite words were "serendipity" and "whimsy." Her favorite expression was “What larks, Pip!”

Some people say you keep an old dog young by getting it a puppy. But an older woman, I’ve learned, can save a man’s youth.

A sidenote: Ruth Gordon, who played Maude, married a man 16 years her junior when she was 46. Garson Kanin, a writer, and Ruth Gordon lived together until her death at age 88. Here's a
great interview they conducted with People magazine four years before she died.

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