Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thanks Poppy

There is a time and a place to watch The Hunger Games (now that it is no longer in theaters).

In a dark or dimly lit room. With no sound except that which is coming from your television, and preferably using an entertainment system with surround sound capabilities. When you are not feeling particularly emotionally vulnerable. And certainly not when you're at your grandparents house.

It's taken me about four or five hours to finish watching this movie that I've been waiting ages to see. Not because I'm uninterested or lazy, I've been anxious to watch it since I put the book down a few months ago, but no one would go with me to the theater.

So why did it take four or five hours, you ask? Well, today I'm at my grandparents' house in Florida. Because my grandparents go to sleep early, I always rent a lot of movies once I get here so that my dad and I can catch up on free film-viewing outside of Netflix Instant. The public library system gives out week-long movie rentals for free! What kind of nonsense is this? The perfect kind.

So anyway, I decided to rent The Hunger Games (at a Redbox actually, which defeats the purpose of my little digression about free movies). But after doing so, I couldn't bear to wait any longer, having already stared at the poster of this film for so long but never gone into a theater to see it, so I popped it in mid-afternoon during a lull in Floridian grandparent fun.

Most people probably have grandparents who sit in a rocker or bake cookies for them (that's what I imagine most grandparents do, but I have no way of knowing), but that's not my grandparents at all. "Those" grandparents would make it easy to watch a movie. They wouldn't want to talk or come in and have you fix their computer for them. But that's not my grandparents.

As soon as Katniss appeared on screen, my grandpa shuffled in and asked me if she and Prim were sisters. I responded 'yes,' to which he sat down and apparently gathered nothing else of the plot from then on. But that didn't keep him from interjecting with little anecdotes that had nothing to do with the film.

Despite perhaps sounding slightly annoyed at this, the interruptions were kind of wonderful. At one point my grandpa started talking about how he met my grandmother. With no prompting from me, he went off on the subject. And this was before the Peeta and Katniss romance even glimmered on the screen. It was a non sequitur of his personal creation.

According to his story (and it might not be fully accurate, he's 90 and his stories tend to be off on dates and specific details), he and my grandmother met a month after he returned from fighting in World War II. A few months later, they were married - she was only 19 years old at the time - and a year later they had their first child of three.

He talked about it so nonchalantly. As if romances that last over 60 years are just casual run of the mill affairs. Nothing to gawk at. The way he described it was that despite having girlfriends before the war, when he came back and met my grandmother things just seemed to fall into place and they realized they wanted to be married pretty soon after.

I feel like these are the kinds of relationships I'm always surrounded by. My sister started dating her now-husband when they were in middle school. My friends tell me whimsical stories about meet-cutes with their boyfriends at parties, when they absolutely hit it off instantly. And obviously I just told you my grandparents' story.

Then I think about me. And the romanticism of their experiences manage to make me feel even more pessimistic about my outlook in life and in love.

Sometimes I wonder if there is going to be some moment for me of discovering true love. I've never felt it, but I like to think it's somewhat like Peeta seeing Katniss and throwing her a piece of bread years before they competed in The Hunger Games. Like maybe in an instant you make some rash judgment, but in retrospect you realize there was just something about that person. Who knows what it was, but it was something.

My grandpa went on to talk about how even though they have little moments of bickering, there's no question that my grandparents' marriage, and their lifetime together as a result, makes sense. The little problems don't matter so much when you find what you need in a significant other. I guess in my heart I always knew that, but hearing it from him was so much more affirming.

These are the kind of interruptions from my grandparents that I crave. Even though my grandfather had no idea that his little anecdote was making me think more personally about my connection to the movie and about life in general, he accomplished this with one short story. And of course he followed up by saying, "I only hope you find what's right for you."

If I'd watched The Hunger Games at home, I would've still been really interested in the movie. I read the book so long ago, that it was a fresh experience in some ways. But I already remembered all the ins and outs of Peeta and Katniss. It took my grandpa getting in the way of my watching the movie to actually see how their romance relates to me - or how I'd like it to relate to me, anyway.

So thanks for the interruptions, Poppy. If they're this good all the time, then I might just call you up next time before I pop in Pride & Prejudice (or some other of my favorite movies) at home. Your unintentional foresight is a beautiful thing.

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