There is basically nothing that happens on screen that I have ever done in real life.
And not just the obviously unlikely occurrences.So I’ve never flown a spaceship, or befriended a robot, or gone on a particularly exciting adventure with a cat, or maybe a dog. No encounters with ghosts or ghouls or zombies or vampires.
Neither have you.
But neither have I experience all the mundane moments, presented there for all to see as if its all some everyday normality. I noticed this last year, when I watched at least four films in a row where people climbed out of windows. As if it was normal. As if it was what everyone does.
But I have never climbed through a window. Never sat on the sloping roof of my house and looked up at the stars. Never jumped down and run stealthily across the lawn of my tyrannical parents, who have grounded me, or will ground me, or perhaps have always grounded me, for the entirety of my teenage years.
I have never been grounded. I never had anywhere else to go. And now I’m 42 years old. I assume I never will be grounded. I have missed my chance. Unless this whole year counts as a grounding. I don’t know anymore.
I’ve never driven around in a roofless car, or sat in the back of a flatbed truck, or clung to the side of a train, or ridden on the back of a motorbike, my arms locked round the waist of some lovable rogue, my hair fluttering in the breeze, as much a visual signifier of my newly found freedom as the ever widening smile that spreads across my face, until it’s big enough to fill the screen.
I’ve never sat in a car as it’s gone slowly through an automated car washing machine, either, water spraying against the windscreens, brushes, whirring, darkness, emergence into light, the whole thing. I wish I had.
I’ve never walked into a pub, or a bar, or a cafe, and just said “the usual”, or waited until whoever I’m with has ordered, and said, “make that two”, two fingers held up to the waitress, just in case she can’t understand.
And I’ve definitely never left everything I’ve just ordered behind, as we leave in some absurd hurry, at the exact end of a sentence, our near full glasses and our untouched lunch extravagantly abandoned on the table behind us, as if money means nothing, as if hunger and thirst mean nothing, as if we ordered simply to fill the time, rather than through want or need or desire.
I’ve never called my sister “sis”, or my brother “bro”. I’ve never introduced myself surname first, or surname only, or ever even really used my surname at all outside of providing official confirmation of my identity, or while filling in forms, or maybe at a stretch when picking up a takeaway. I’ve never said, “be that as it may”, or “it’s a long story”, or asked anyone if they can drive stick, or ever been asked the same.
I’ve never been instantly comfortable in the presence of strangers. I’ve never called people I barely know some cute or demeaning or derogatory or passively aggressive nickname, based on their appearance or their accent or their perceived similarity to someone else, famous, or fictional, beloved or despised.
I’ve never wandered around with my top off, swaggeringly confident in my potent masculinity, even though I live in Essex, and it’s essentially my birthright.
I’ve never walked through a field of waist high wheat, my fingers brushing the golden tips. I’ve never beaten an animal to death with a blunt instrument, to put it out of its misery, said misery being entirely my own cause. I’ve never pointed a gun at someone, anyone, anything.
I’ve never surreptitiously watched someone getting dressed or undressed, unbidden or uninvited, through their window, or in some assumed seclusion on the beach, or a small gap in the curtains of the changing room, or the keyhole of a door, or some unexpected angle glimpsed in a mirror, or simply when told to look away.
I have never loved, or been loved.
I’ve never even owned a dog.
1. Written September 2020
2. And similar in thought processes to this previous piece
3. It’s not plagiarism if you do it to yourself
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