Notice: I am willing to sell the rights to the story sketched below. I am writing it here only because the History and Literature department won’t accept a screenplay of “A History of Myself, in Literature” as my senior thesis. But the structure is yours, to have and to hold, to write and to produce, for most likely poorer. Though his house is lovely at Christmas, I don’t presume myself Mark Twain, but I do discourage you from finding narrative, moral, or plot.
The Disclaimer: I’m going to speak in circles here, not linearly. In my mind, pies are squared, so to speak, but to a certain degree—most likely second—the piece should (be a) function. Use your imagination. The primary visual cortex gets more blood that way.
The Characters: My—no, our, I insist, help yourself—story, in four people I briefly met.
A. To date (what we don’t seem to be able to do), Harry Baggageclaim and I have almost gone to two soirées (there’s always an accent aigu, mind you, even in text messages), one presentation, one coffee, and Oktoberfest.
B. The elderly gap-toothed gypsy in Prague whom I met on two separate occasions, at opposite ends of the day and town. I almost bought her ring but I never did; I thought we’d meet a third time, maybe, but we didn’t. The ring she dropped, picked up, and said I’d lost is my favorite ring I’ve never bought. (“Odd beginnings and maybe even ends” is my favorite phrase I almost never thought).
C. Now, the fruit vendor outside Quincy Market and I never met, but I feel like we did, almost (“Whatya lookin’ at that peppah for? Yah gonna cook it and eat it, not take a pitcha with it!”).
D. The young man with a fascination for 70s big-lady porn and a taste for Floor D of Widener and I have never almost met, I’m nearly sure, but we’ve come closer now than we nearly almost never did.
The Setting: But let’s get back on track. Here’s my pitch for where the blockbuster should take place. A demolition site, of course, would be ideal, given the nature of the film.
(Backtracking): But, don’t you feel that the important part, the point to impart, is the point of departure? Things always happen there. That’s where I met Harry, née Baggageclaim, at Logan airport. And it’s where I began writing this, at a train station and then in transit. And this, right here, right now, may be when you’re starting to wonder where, in fact, we are going, and when, in fact, you should get off. But not like that, please.
(By this point in the article, my readers, says my editor, are all bored.)
And I agree—all aboard! It’s the train platform, in particular, where things happen. It’s there that the main character will achieve that really peculiar, particular feeling of belonging—the one inherent to the very foreignness of the place. It’s more common to train platforms than airport gates, I guess, because even Tom Hanks can’t call those home. (This is why you also want to avoid setting the film in Seattle, Philadelphia, and the North Pole.)
Train platforms are the really in-between places, where no one belongs and so everyone does; where no one stays but everyone knows. (For train platforms, here, you could also substitute the category “hipster.”) Now, stick with me; actually, it’s a very small idea. But there’s an important question nestled in between these in-betweens that strikes at the nature of the human condition, okay, so you want to include it if you produce this film: if I’m 20 and in international airspace, flying from London to New York, can I order a glass of wine?
The Plot (or point): I’m really good at almost meeting people. It’s just this thing I do. That’s where the characters came from. In fact, I’ve almost met so many people, almost been so many places, and almost done so many things, I can almost string a story out of it.
Which is the funny thing, really, because if you’ve made it this far, you’re the same. You have, as it were, almost met me. But is it enough—these almosts—to make a story? Thirty-seven text messages, two conversations English to Czech, a vegetal reprimand, and porn. Here’s the hypothesis: any one of these, at the perfect time and perfect place, gives better insight than three years of friendship, or 57 hours of mutual company, or two children, a down payment, and a Labrador.
But that’s all silly. Because the important part, everyone knows, is the ending—it should be flashy.
For our ending I’m thinking it should be something like a pangram: “Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx.” It contains all 26 letters, it’s so novel, original, it says so much! But yeah, okay, fine, despite Mr. Jock or despise Mr. Jock, it really, ultimately, really, eventually, always, never and—sigh, almost—says nothing.
—Michelle B. Timmerman ’13 is a History and Literature concentrator in Pforzheimer House. She may, or may not, or may almost be found standing at the T stop waiting for the Red Line.