Sideways, if not Totally Horizontal.

I love this movie. It doesn't explain it in the movie, but sideways means pissed. Like I am now.

The plan was this: "Sideways" is on HBO. It will be cut to shit. This is Singapore. We are too young, immature and impressionable for rude words, naked people and for expressing our opinions about the things that affect us most.

So instead I would make myself dinner, something you'd get at the Hitching Post, get a nice bottle of pinot noir, say a Yarra Ridge 2003 $38 at Cold Storage (there's no fucking merlot in my house) and watch the DVD at the same time as the movie plays on the TV.

I have time to go shopping, but shit, I'd better put a in load of washing from the trip to Japan I just got back from this evening. Plenty of time.

Ah fuck, I've loaned the DVD to someone. (Is that a copyright infringement?)

Ah fuck making dinner, the movie is starting in 10 minutes. I order a pizza (seafood wasabi[?]) and some chicken wings. The diet gets delayed another 12 hours. I have the bottle of wine already. I unscrew(!) the top and pour a glass as I watch the movie start. I let its humour and fuck-you political incorrectness wash over me as I wait for the deliveryman... when he comes there I am drinking wine and eating home-delivery junk food. I feel I am in the scene after Jack's wedding where Miles is drinking his precious '61 St Emilion from a polystyrene cup at the burger joint.


OK yeah girls, it's a men-behaving-badly movie. Real people, fucking up and getting away with it evenutally, sorta. But women in the movie aren't all perfect either. Look at Miles' mum ferkrissake. A soak, sprawled asleep on the couch next morning at seventy "something". Where's the dignity of age there? A nice lady, but we are not talking Grace Kelly. Maya, another potential 50' zombie divorcee, knocking back sauvingnon blanc like it was gin. Stephanie, where's her husband? and violent! Hitting the guy in the face with a bike helmet. That's like 10 years jail in some parts of Jurong. And how's the fat waitress: Cammi? What a slut. I like that in a waitress, actually.


But Miles has ballsed it up with Maya. Tender moments of communal mysticizing over the living history and the sublime characteristics of pinot noir are lost when he bursts the bubble, saying, "yeah, but I like Riesling too". He makes a clumsy kiss move. She fends him off, decides it's best to go home. They come to the crossroads in seperate cars. Maya, recently burdened with two shoe-boxes of Miles's novel, turns left. Miles looking forlorn, like a wet cat in the rain loser, turns right. Oh, does he look like a sad, fucked up man. Oh yeah. That is the moment. An Oscar* should have been struck for Paul Giamatti just for that one look.

Have I sat at those crossroads? Yes. How many times? Don't ask. Am still there? Possibly. Knowing I have no option but to turn and go the other way, because I fucked up. Oui, je regret un fucking lot.

I so relate.

That is me. That is I. That is the author of this blog. Sitting at the crossroads forever.

I feel that pain. Pain of fucking things up, of... not being the right person. Not being the person you wanted to be, or thought that you could one day become. Whom you thought you had the potential to be as a kid, smart and witty and always saying the right thing, reading the signs properly, making the right moves, fluid a cat, graceful as gazelle, sleek, hungry and accurate like a leopard. Sure-footed, that's the term. A natural. Before the bastards wore you down, before you lost your sense of humour, your sense of perspective, became hunched and angry. Knowing that you probably will never be that person. Not being a writer, for example. Drinking and dialing. Running away. Not saying the right things. Not saying anything. Saying the wrong things. Aceepting the failure and being resigned to having to live with it, because what else is there?

Of course, I like Riesling too...


I met the Ex in London.

She sent me an SMS. We were going to visit the Borough Market and The Globe. I quote: "As planned meet at London Bridge 1300 up in main ticket office above tube."

I get the Northern line South from Tottenham Court Rd to Kennington, switch back onto a North-bound Northern line that goes on the East side of the line - it branches into two lines, don't ask - that goes back up to London Bridge.

I get to London Bridge. I look for the exit. I go up. I go up again. And again. When they say Underground, fuck, they ain't kidding. I exit the tube. I come to a ticket office where there is a long line of people queuing for service. No sign of the Ex. I am on time. I wait. There are exits taking me out to various franchised coffee shops on the olde Streets of London where olde men seem obsessed with making love to their tonics and gin(s?). I wait. I hover, cruising from end to end of the ticket office, hoping the police don't mistake me for a terrorist and shoot me seven times in the head, or merely arrest me and ruin my entire life.

I get an SMS.

Ex: I am here.
E@L: Me too
Ex: Where?
E@L: Ticket office above tube.
Ex: I can't find you.
E@L: Near Mt David(?**) exit. On top of stair, over looking ticket office.
E@L: ...

A few minutes later she appears. She has her look on. That look, you guys know, only wives or ex-wives have it. Woo-boy, do I know that look. After a while, you start to think you OWN that look. That look that says, "I know you in every *tiny* detail." It's that "you fucked up again, you hopeless momma's-boy" look. The look Maya would have given Miles if they had been married 10 years.

This is not the MAIN ticket office, she informs me. Her look, her facial expression - I can only describe it as sardonic. I protest. This is a ticket office, I say. It is above the tube. What do you want me to say? I go to show her the SMS she sent me. I am 100% accurate as far as I am concerned. She doesn't look at the SMS, she knows what she said. In fact she doesn't say anything back, but I know that 15 years ago she would have. Trust me on that. Eight years ago she would have said something nasty, something verbal to match that look from before. But she is not married tom me know, not going through a divorce, has other people to brood on. I am part of history.

Instead, she takes me around a corner, to another escalator and we go upstairs again. And now there is one mother-fucking HUGE ticket office, a full-blown Train Station, bigger than many airports I've been in, full of shops (franchises of course). This is Not the dinky little ticket outlet provincial little me thought was the "main" ticket office. She smiles with a big cute dimple carving into her right cheek - that's what attracted me to her in the first place. Am I right? that dimple asks.

"This is the main station," she points out.

We don't fight.***

"Let's get a beer," she says. It's lunchtime.

We sit in the pub, secure after being chased by the Evil Morris Dancers from Hell [Another Story (TM)].


"I wish I tried harder, you know." I run my fingers down the glass out of habit, but there is no condensation on the room temperature hand-pumped ale. "I wish I had told you things. The things I guess I ended up feeling. Realizing what I'd probably felt all along but never said."

She nods.

"I felt that if I DID try to hold on to you, keep you back with me, you just would have pulled away even harder. And I will still not have kept you. You would have left even sooner."

She nods.

"You are right," she says simply. "I would have."


And yes, the movie was cut to shit... Great chunks of silence while people swear, entire scenes missing: Cammmi's husband chasing Miles, Miles discovering Jack and Stephanie going at it, etc etc...

An absolute disgrace.


* Instead Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Masden got supporting role nods while Alexander Payne missed The Big One, but took home instead the Screenplay statuet.

** I can't remember the actual exit's name. Getting detailed map or photos of a tube station is impossible on the web these days. They are classified, for security reasons. Welcome to 1984. As I pointed out in an earlier post, it is illegal to even take a photograph of a London tube station.

*** Once upon a time this part of the story would have ended differently. Her yelling, me sulking.


Posted by: expat@large on Jul 24, 06 | 12:30 am | Profile


I love the scene in which Miles drinks the spittoon of wine spit. So utterly gross it curdles my stomach every time I see it.

Posted by: Eric on Jul 24, 06 | 5:38 am

I don't think things happen for a reason, but I am a big believer hat you can never go can look back and take those lessons into tomorrow, but you can't ever go back...decisions are made, the Rubicon is crossed and you live with the outcome...

...ohhh and I agree about the waitresses ~grin~

Posted by: Indiana on Jul 25, 06 | 12:16 am

Eric, hopefully that wasn't actually full of expectorated wine...

Indy, for sure. Not trying to go there again. But sometimes you just wonder why things went this way or that and what could've been and what went wrong. After a suitable cooling off time of course.

But the unexamined life, mate - the unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates' Apology at his Trial is still a driving force in my attitude to life - 2500 years old and nothing more relevant to modern human dilemmas has ever been postulated in my opinion. It transcends religious claptrap and the submission to dubious received "truths". Question everything as rationally as (and if) you can.

Waitresses: Crime novelist James Ellroy said the only advice his father ever gave him was "Never leave a restaurant without trying to pick up the waitress."

Posted by: expat@large on Jul 25, 06 | 1:04 pm


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