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Posts Tagged ‘father’

I just rewatched Dear Frankie.  I’d guess it’s the fourth or fifth time I’ve watched it, but it’s been a while since the last time.  I wish I could come up with words to truly describe how the movie makes me feel.  But the emotion is too raw, too primal, too pure to be accurately intellectualized.  I’ll try my best though.

In some ways the movie seems perfect to me.  Perfectly told, for one.  It follows my old acting teacher’s plot model.  Stasis-conflict-stasis.  It starts with Lizzie, Lizzie’s mother, and Frankie moving yet again, continuing to live in limbo.  Suspended fear.  With the discovery that Frankie’s fictional father’s ship is about to arrive in the town they just moved to, Lizzie suddenly has to produce the man.

With the introduction of the stranger hired to be Frankie’s father, things start to change.  Well, they started to change with the epiphany earlier.  The introduction is the change.

I don’t feel like continuing the plot analysis.  It’s not what I started for anyway.  Watch the movie.  It’s good.

More than being a perfectly crafted story that ties up all its loose ends while still leaving delicious questions, it feels like a perfect picture of boylove.  It’s odd since the stranger isn’t a boylover, but in a way that adds to the perfection.  It’s a story of a man and a boy who are unrelated and don’t know each other, yet still the man comes to love the boy.  Adding even more to the story’s relevance, the relationship is born out of a lie.  Beauty out of ugliness.

I think that the…not really emotion, but…it’s a word used in the sims…motives!  The motive that…motivates is need.  Both for the movie and for boylove.  Needing, being needed, and needing to be needed.  Frankie needs a father.  He has love.  His mother, grandmother and even neighbor love him.  So does the girl in his class.  But they’re all female.  Frankie has been exchanging letters with his “father” for years, and is partially satisfied in that, but he needs to connect with him in a more real, concrete way.  He probably doesn’t even realize this need until he faces the possibility of it being denied.  Of the ship coming in but not being visited by his father.

Just like the classical love story has a damsel in distress and a hero to save the day, a boylove story has a boy in need and a man to fulfill it.  A boylover responds to that hunger for love.  We need to be needed.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Gerard Butler, the Stranger, is needed.  Or rather, Frankie has a need.  Lizzie recognizes his need and so employs a man to fulfill it.  The Stranger also recognizes the need ans so reluctantly agrees to participate in the duplicitous arrangement.  The offer of money doesn’t hurt either.

Up to this point it’s a story about a mother struggling to give her son what he needs.  It tugs at the heartstrings of boylovers (and probably mothers, and I’d hope everyone else as well) but it doesn’t really become a boylove story until the Stranger and Frankie meet.  Frankie’s need has been building up the whole time, and when it becomes greatest as his “father” stands before him and he perceives that it’s safe – it won’t be snatched away.  It isn’t a dream or a trick – he rushes forward and throws his arms around him.

At that point, the Stranger stands in shock, hands held out in the air away from the small body clinging to him, and I sit in front of the screen in agony, the words “just touch him” screaming through my mind, physically tense with the desire to act.  To fill that need.

Finally the Stranger comes to grips, truly, with the boy’s need and with the fact that he is needed.  And he commits to it, placing his hands on the boy’s back gently giving him that physical gesture of love.  The tension drains from my body and I smile, fulfilled myself seeing the boy’s need fulfilled.

The Stranger is no longer just standing in for written words.  He has started to fill the boy’s need, and having tasted that ecstasy, has started to need it himself.

That’s when it becomes a boylover story.  When the stranger finds himself needing to be needed.  It is subtle at first, but becomes more obvious at the end of that first day.  The Stranger sees in Frankie that one day isn’t enough.  Frankie still needs more of him, so he sets himself against the wishes of Lizzie and her mother.  That’s dangerous.  he’s fulfilled his agreement, he’s going to get his money, but he chooses to fight to continue fulfilling Frankie’s need.  Maybe that doesn’t yet show his own need.   One could argue that he doesn’t plant the idea of one more day for himself (and he doesn’t really.  He does it for Frankie) but his own need could certainly add to the motivation to defy the rules.  At the very least it shows he is willing to fight for Frankie’s need at cost to himself, and that shows love.  Not just showing love to the boy, but loving the boy in himself.

His own need becomes strongest and clearest right at the end, when he asks to say goodbye.  Frankie has had two great days with his “father” and is now asleep.  If he’d woken up the next morning to the story, “you fell asleep and your father carried you home but had to go back to the ship,” he’d have accepted that without much sorrow.  In a way, that would have been the poetic thing to do.  Not to mention the parental thing.  Let the exhausted boy sleep.

But the Stranger doesn’t.  He asks if he can say goodbye.  That’s his own need.  He doesn’t do it for Frankie.  The Stranger needs the boy’s love.  He needs to be needed.  He wants to see the boy’s longing for him, and for Frankie to see his own longing.

That’s boylove.  Needing to be needed.  Dear Frankie tells a story of that need and tells it perfectly, making me feel happy/sad, hot/cold, excited/depressed, energetic/lazy.

I’m not needed.  Maybe that is the ever unknowable longing that seeing boys makes me feel.  Or part of it, anyway.  Maybe I have, in trying to understand how the movie works, identified my own elusive need.  I need to be needed.  But I’m not.  Not like that.  There are plenty of boys out there who have great need.  Even great need for nothing but love.  And I am very able and willing to meet that need.  But they don’t need me.  Not yet.  But I am now on the road to changing that.  And that gives me hope that has taken the edge off the depression that usually follows a movie like this.

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It’s about 5:00 now.  The island was very beautiful.  I certainly wouldn’t mind living there.  If only I had a couple million dollars.  As gorgeous a place as it is, however, it doesn’t compare to the boys walking all over it, and running shirtless over this ship.  As we made way from the port, my father and I stood at the stern and watched the port fade away.  As we did, a boy about 12 stood six feet off to my side and watched as well.  Not typical 12-year-old behavior.  Watching the land fall away that slowly seems too sedate and activity for most children, even that old.  Especially when there’s a water slide behind them.  He also seemed to be listening in on my and my father’s conversation.  I’d like to think that he wanted to be a part of our conversation, share our experience, as much as I wanted it.

And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that.  Quite clearly he has more patience and mature interests than most his age.  It is very possible that his father wouldn’t be interested in sharing a moment with his son like that.  If he even has a father.  One never knows these days.  Point is, he could very well be looking for someone to share his uncommon interests with.  He could easily be one of those fabled “lonely boys” seeking to relate to someone.

I’d have loved to have been that someone.  To say to him, “See that boat up there?  That’s waiting to puck up the harbor pilot after he gets the ship out of the shipping lane.”  To tell him about the red and green buoys, and coment to him how the water changed from green to a blue so deep it almost looks purple.

Then I’d put my arm around his shoulders and give him a squeeze and we’d just watch the land slip away in companionalbe silence, him knowing I cared about him, me knowing he appreciated the attention.

Perhaps a bit idilic, but not an unreasonable fantasy.  I do care about him.  Isn’t that crazy?  I saw him for a few minutes out of the corner of my eye, both of us trying not to get caught looking (him by me and me by my father) and I already care about him.  I won’t be so cheezy and sentamental as to say I love him.  I don’t.  I don’t know him.  But I do wish him nothing but “puppies and sunshine” to quote Boy Wonder.

Two things prevented this fantasy from becoming history.  One.  My father was there, obviously.  How can I chat up a 12yo in front of my father?  He already is too close to the truth.  (Ever since 15.)  The other thing is my unending cowardace.  I’d just be too damned chicken to try it.

But what’s the worst that could happen?  He ignores me?  I feel awkward and walk away, ever to see him again?  I need to get over this.

I wrote this entry on the port side wind deck looking out over bluest infinity, with flying fish skimming the water beneath me.

And my father now knows I journal.  He visited me mid-entry.

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I fed the economy today.  I did my part.  Bought two pairs of pajamas so that the bed doesn’t feel so cold when I first get in (so I can keep the heat down), a pair of slippers for similar reasons and a web cam.  The last was a bad idea probably, but oh well.  I’d have gotten it eventually.

The mall was dead today.

While I was in the Target getting all this, I saw a boy.  He was trying on a brightly colored fleece and exclaiming “oh yeah!  I’ll get this.”  It seems his father offered to buy it if the boy liked it, and that was unexpected.  He seemed about 13, give or take a year.

Cute as he was in his early pubescent way, the real reasons I bring it up is what followed.  The two started wandering around the section next to mine while I browsed the PJs.  The father said something along the lines of “do you not want to do it anymore because on of your friends quit?”  It was a rather condescending tone, but it was a fair question and it piqued my interest.  Perhaps the father was seeking to understand why his son wanted to stop come “uncool” activity.  The boy denied that that was the reason, saying he just didn’t enjoy it.  Then the father told him, “you have to do a sport.”  Now I was really interested.  The kid wanted to quit sports?  Maybe he’s artistic.  His interests lie in more cerebral pursuits.

Of course the boy asked why he had to play a sport, getting as a response, “you’re just at an age when I require that you play a sport.”  The father went on to explain that when he was in middle and high school, he had to play sports.

Oh, two great justifications.  That’ll inspire.  The boy–who was far from unfit–seemed willing to compromise.  He asked if he could play Lacrosse instead.  Daddy-o immediately responded, “I’m not going to pay for you to play that crap!”

What the heck?!  Not manly enough for you?  First of all, Lacrosse is brutal.  It’s hardly a “girly” inactive sport.  (Regardless of which gender is playing.  Boys and girls teams play very aggressively.)  Second, you told him he had to play a sport!  You gave crappy reasons (how about, to maintain physical health, foster team skills, do something besides video games…) but he responded reasonably anyway.

The boy quietly said, “you don’t have to pay,” but his father either didn’t hear, or he ignored it.  I don’t see how he could have not heard, considering I heard it from several feet away.

Now, my assumption was that the kid wanted to do something besides sports.  Thus my anger.  I’m also angry at the way the man handled it.  Of course, the boy may have wanted to quit so he could veg out at home.  I can completely understand why a parent would not be OK with that, but that didn’t seem to be the case given the boy’s petitions and arguments.  He just seemed to be truly unhappy playing basketball.  His dad did say he could play something else (reluctantly, it seems, after spending money for basketball gear for the current semester) but obviuously football and baseball were equally unappealing.  Perhaps the lad should have offered swimming as an option, but that probably would have been shot down too.

I should be a parent.  I’d do a better job than that prick.  Foster your child’s interests.  Don’t force your own upon him.  Though, I’d be in danger of that myself with music…

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