Thirteen years ago, I went to some kind of cancer recovery workshop out in the country. Like the other two women who participated in it, I had recently gone through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and I was a bit nuts. Cancer tends to do that to you.
On the last day of the workshop — after meeting in encounter groups, doing tai-chi, getting a massage — I was plopped down in front of some kind of therapeutic sandbox with a bunch of toys I could stick into the sand. I initially thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen, but I ended up loving it. There was no way, it seemed to me, you could lie or protect yourself in that kind of silly, childlike setting. Somehow, you ended up revealing yourself in spite of yourself.
As I explained to the therapist, what I’d done in my sandbox arrangement was to bring threatening figures closer to the figure that represented me. The threats were things like illness and fear and death. “You know the saying,” I said. “I want to keep my friends close, but my enemies closer.”
Well, she may have heard the saying, but she never indicated she knew it came from one of my favorite movies, The Godfather, Part 2. That’s what happens when you see a movie too often and take it too seriously: It begins to invade your life, even in sandy, therapeutic settings.
This week, we went with our friends John and Helen to see the first two Godfathers in a downtown movie theater. (The Godfather, Part 3, with its unfortunate casting of Sofia Coppola in a starring role is a movie I’ve only seen once and prefer to pretend doesn’t exist. Please don’t remind me.) So what if we’d each seen the movies dozens of times? On the big screen, they’re still a revelation.
This is the business we have chosen.
Tattaglia’s a pimp.
Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.
We sat in one of the first rows, elbowing each other when our favorite parts came along.
I loved baseball ever since Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series in 1919.
Blood is a big expense.
For years, I’d adapted a quote from Kay as she talked to Michael: This Sicilian thing has got to stop. Since my husband’s not from Italy, I’d changed it to: This West Texas thing has got to stop. You know, whatever works, whatever seems appropriate.
Unfortunately, after viewing the movie again, I realize the original line doesn’t exist. All those years of quoting from Godfather, Part 2, of hearing those lines in my head that seemed to define male excess and craziness, and now I realize they were never spoken. Damn! What am I supposed to say to my husband now when he gets out of line?
Someday, and that day may never come, I’ve got to come up with a new quote.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)