I sort of watched Dirty Dancing today. I was also hanging art, moving some of Graham’s weirder stuff (vintage camping pack with frame, poufball thing that makes a boi-oing noise when you hit it) into the basement, and vacuuming, but I’ve seen it before and involuntarily know almost all of the lines already. There’s nothing about the movie that inherently appeals to me; I wasn’t born in the 40’s, I’m not Jewish, I’ve never been to the Catskills, and I couldn’t learn to dance even if Patrick Swayze rose from the dead and twirled me around a lake. But there’s a certain comfort to Dirty Dancing, and I can watch it on weekends even when I’m not hungover.
The real answer to why women are so attracted to assholes is because when someone who is usually an asshole is nice to you, it makes you feel special, and when someone makes you feel special, the reason part of your brain shuts down while the genitals part of your brain shoots up. But we never realize that a person is an asshole; we only know they’re being nice to us. The psychological motivation behind this doesn’t occur to us until way later, and for this, I blame movies like Dirty Dancing.
It’s supposed to be some kind of victory when a moody, distant, borderline antisocial guy with violent tendencies decides to be nice to some girl. It’s supposed to be romantic when he deigns to be sweet with her between crazy mood swings, or when he tells her father to fuck off when he’s not waging a class war to her face. Dirty Dancing and about a thousand other movies tell us that this is how love works, and I guess it does, as long as you consider love to be something that eventually involves things like broken furniture, secret abortions, and restraining orders.
Modern romantic comedies aren’t any better, you know. These days, movies try to “empower” women. Instead of telling them to fall in love with some barely-educated brute for no reason whatsoever, they tell them to be difficult shrews who treat everyone like shit until some guy is willing to put up with their assholery, at which point they should forget about their careers and abilities and awesome fucking apartments in order to pay attention to him. So maybe those movies and these movies aren’t all that different.
At least Dirty Dancing has Jerry Orbach, and I kind of want him to be my dad.
My dad is okay, I guess, at least now that I’m older. He’s still trying to be as useful as possible with the new house, so he’s coming over with a shop vac tomorrow to attempt to clean the furnace flue. He inspected it last weekend during Graham’s move, although I should mention that he’s not an HVAC guy. Not at all. He grabbed a flashlight and a soda and spent about 20 minutes in the basement before coming up to tell me that I shouldn’t turn on the furnace until the flue was cleaned.
“Okay,” I said.
“I mean it, Erin.”
“I said okay! What else do you want me to say?”
He pointed his finger at me. “If you turn that thing on and go to sleep, you’re not gonna wake up.”
“Are you telling me that turning on the heat is going to burn the house down?”
“You could! Do you have a smoke detector? What about carbon monoxide, do you have that?”
Because in my family (which does not include Jerry Orbach), caring about someone means that you threaten them with the possibility of incinerating to death in a house fire.