Friday, April 11, 2014

A Love Letter to Diner

Dear Diner,

I love you.

Sure, you're sexist. Then again, you take place in 1959. If you weren't sexist, this would be a fantasy, and your strength is your realism. 

If any movie perfectly illustrates the dynamics of friendship without relying on stereotypes, this is it. You can keep your buddy films and your bromances and your coming-of-age. 

Diner is one of the only movies that leaves me with: Yes. This is how friends behave. This is friendship amongst a group of equals.  It's not about heroes and sidekicks or mentors and students or rivals that 'respect' each other.

I think one of the main reasons I identify with Diner so much is because there are (please don't hate me for where I'm headed, here) so fucking few healthy female friendships represented in popular culture. Why is it that female friends are always jealous and backstabby? My friends aren't like that. If I met a person like that, I would just not be friends with them.

Hollywood has very, very, very low expectations of friendship, especially with women. Stories about camaraderie are usually better friendship barometers than stories about friends.  Movies about growing up that are written or directed by a person who is, simultaneously, coming into their own self, are always the best.
Diner's success lies in the level of comfort these actors feel around each other, how they ricochet and couple and strain. I don't think I have a single friend I relate to in the exact same way as another. Friendships are fueled by reflection. It's how you respond to each other, the unique phrases you use, how you reminisce...if you reminisce at all. Some friends are for arguing and debates. Some friends need protection. Some give the best advice, some spill out a slow reveal of our similarities or flagrant differences.

The things that I remember about my friends are the parts that were easy, and those are the things I tell the most.  Staying up all night in on the train to New Orleans with Bobbay, shaking creamers because Muffy told us that if you shook a creamer, it would turn into butter. What did we talk about? Shit, I don't know. Buttermakers? I just know it was effortless and rad, and my favorite part of that trip was getting there. One summer I remember drinking around a fire reading passages from erotic novels with CrazyLiz and Phil and Tyler: I remember the nuances ("You know what word I'm not comfortable with? Nuance. It's not a real word" - Modell, Diner) and stress that each of used and how differently we all read the text. Driving around with Schmee in college looking for cigarettes, refusing to buy our own, just having a day. We weren't out of control or fucked up or anything, we were Sometimes it's the simple lazy times, when no one is faking it, when you're completely at ease and you don't need to work at anything, when you're not trying, when you're just effortlessly idle. But tthings end, and people grow.

Diner takes place just before the minute hand strikes sixties: the world is about to change, to call out the boys' collective narcissism and smash it up. But no matter what, they'll always have the guys at the diner.

Then they're getting married, having kids, starting new jobs and leaving town. But you know that the next time they're together, Modell and Eddie are going to bicker about absolutely anything and everything, Shrevie and Boogie will remain friendly, but tensely competitive, Fenwick will probably be drunk and brilliant and pissing off everyone else.

And it's stories we all know: the universal, gap-mouthed look Eddie gets when he realizes he just lost a pointless argument, but he still keeps arguing because he must, because he is making a goddamn point, and then later on he brushes it off, why so serious?

Seriously, Steve fucking Guttenberg is a goddamn genius in this movie (words that have never, ever been spoken, and technically they still haven't since I typed them, but whatever jerk). As far as I'm concerned his role (Eddie) is one the most well-actualized characters I have ever seen - because we know him, we can tell how he's going to react to anything outside the sphere of Diner because he does such a fucking perfect job reacting to things. I could go on and on and on, but that shit's boring to list and dazzling to watch. I'll let the movie do it.

In a way, I guess, it's about taking shit seriously: my serious business is much more fucking important than your serious business. Nah, just kidding, super sors, we cool?

Maybe it's because, stripped of the question of masculinity and what it means to be a man and all that bullshit (which I could talk about, but don't want to) Diner is really about learning who you are and admitting those faults, and how none of it matters with the people you love. 

Maybe I the reason I love Diner is because it's's like when an old friend gives you a confident a kick in the ass and tells you to fuck off, so you do a round of shots and make fun of each other for five minutes and feel better about the world. 



So I guess I have a Love Letters series now.  I mean, I do. Click here for the list so far.


Kono said...

Christ i've been torturing myself by reading some shit online these days where a bunch of people all tell each other how great they fucking write and this and that and the other and you know they all write like fucking nitwits and then i go to the garage, get stoned and plop my ass back down and click over here and let me tell you sister i feel fucking infintely better about the inter-webs, not really of course but it's good to know that now and then you stumble on fucking gem amongst all the dog shit and you sister are that shiny fucking gem... fucking spot on... and now i might have to watch Diner.

Rassles said...

I miss the old blogging days, sometimes, when we felt like writers. What I cannot stand is pictures of people's clothes and how they decorate their homes. I don't give a shit about your clothes. Why do those clothes matter? I would rather read an essay on the importance of taking pictures of your clothes than look at one more picture of your fucking clothes.

Whoa. Sorry. Kono, you're like a tesseract, sometimes. The next dimension. Cube the cube.

Chris said...

I use to try to explain how every friendship was different, but I usually ended up insulting someone. Now I can just send them the link. And i totally agree with Kono. Your writing humbles me. And I'm really going to have to rethink that post I'm writing about decorating my house. Seriously.

daisyfae said...

holy shit. i'd forgotten Diner. and that Steve Gutenberg was in it... when i get some free time, this is at the top of the list.

i have no blog mojo. i just don't need to pretend to write much. but it's the people i 'met' that keep me coming back out here - and god damn it, you, kono, chris... you do NOT live in my computer, but you are real friends, and i know this. so shit. let's have a party. kono's bringing the pharma....

Ginny said...

We were just watching promos for Sharknado 3, and saying "Do you remember the brief window where Steve Gutenberg was gonna be an actual thing?" And then just like that, he was a punchline. Does he have an autobiography? I'd like to pinpoint where it went wrong.