In one of my dream lives, I am an independent filmmaker. So going to a premier of the 48 Hour Film Project made me nervous and a little jealous, but felt right, like existing in the midst of the grass roots kind of moviemaking I so love, even for just an hour.
Ostensibly, we were there to support Kristen, who appeared in the last, and best, short film as a disillusioned debutant in what turned out to be her last game of cards. Chamber #6 debuted in obvious superiority to an appreciative crowd who had just sat through half a dozen shorts ranging from not good to should have been axed in pre-production.
But, it so happens that Davy, the praised, but reticent, director of Chamber #6 is also half the brains behind another project of great interest to me. Several months back, Kristen mentioned to two of her coworkers that she had a friend with one arm. These coworkers were, apparently, very bored, because they became intrigued and proceeded to barrage her with questions about me...how do I shave, put on a bra, etc. Being the creatives they are, the guys then turned their curiosity into a song, with lyrics like ‘how do you feed a giraffe with a short arm?’ I imagine something akin to The Lonely Island parodies.
Walking into Davy’s house for the premier after-party, Kristen casually mentions the song guys are excited to meet me and one of them will be at the party. I’m introduced to Davy, wondering if I should reveal my identity with “So, I’m that girl with one arm who inspired your song,” but I think I might just be stating the obvious. How many one-armed friends could Kristen have? But after witnessing a game of beer pong for the first time and realizing I have no regrets about missing out on Greek life, I can’t help myself, and blurt out within Davy’s hearing, “I just want to know when the music video comes out.” He doesn’t hear me, so Kristen repeats. Davy looks up to meet my eye with a knowing look of being caught in something mischievous, trying to discern my reaction, a shy smile wanting to come out and play. I grin. I want to play, too.
Standing close by, Christian, up-to-now life of the party and beer pong champion, perks up, not wanting to be on the outside of the joke. Davy turns to give a hushed explanation, of which, I can only hear, “how”, and “one arm.” In an almost instant turnabout, Christian is sobered, almost offended. “Ah, no man, I don’t make fun of stuff like that, stuff that people are born with.” He can barely look at me. “That’s just not cool.”
I’m hooked. I almost can’t help myself from jumping across the kitchen counter in excitement at the prospect of a new convert. “Why not?,” I press, “Is it OK for me to make fun of myself? Don’t you think we have to be able to laugh at ourselves?” I think I’ve got him cornered, but though he’s now able to look at me, he refuses to board the disability train. “I just don’t do that.” What kind of topsy turvy politically correct universe have I stumbled into, I don’t know. Minutes before we were all laughing about how East Indian Swedish American, Christian, looks like a Mexican with his mustache. I feel myself in a moment of irony, so twisted, I don’t even know how to proceed. But I start to feel guilty about the teasing, ending the conversation with the only thing I know for sure: “I respect that you feel that way.”
But the rest of the night, when I speak, I notice Christian watching me more boldly, curious, studying.
I think something might be changing after all.
*Postscript: In textations with Kristen this week, I was made aware that production of the above mentioned song was brought to a sudden halt, its writers believing it had gotten "out of control." No! The Evil Empire of Political Correctness is gaining ground. If you have feelings about this, please leave a comment, and I will forward them to the people who can make a difference.