Last night as I was walking to a liquor store to buy a bottle of Tito’s to be enjoyed with a friend who will be staying at our apartment for the next couple nights as she transitions into the next stage of her life, I heard a noise in the hall or on the street or somewhere around my head that reminded me of a moment in “Beauty and the Beast” (the [Angela Lansbury version of the] song) so I pulled out my phone and changed the music to that particular track and was satisfied. It was the song I wanted to hear at that moment and hearing it made me feel good in the way songs do when we’re really listening to them.
By the third block of my five-block walk I remembered a moment, maybe 1994 or so, when I watched Beauty and the Beast for the first time. I had seen it before, obviously, but I guess I’d always written it off as the Disney movie my sister and mother liked more than Aladdin - my favorite at the time. My father was away for the weekend on a yearly camping trip he took with his old friends, so it was just my sister and mother and me at home. Maybe my brother was out with his friends. Maybe just in his room. In any case, he wasn’t in the living room with us when my mom or my sister suggested that we all watch a movie together. Of course, I thought. Yes. A movie would be fun. A movie would be the best! But I didn’t get to choose and whoever did get to choose chose Beauty and the Beast. I remember groaning, at least internally. I wanted to watch Aladdin again because I always wanted to watch Aladdin again but who cares no matter my mom made hot chocolate.
(I don’t actually remember her making hot chocolate that night, but I do know she regularly made hot cocoa when we watched movies as a family on Saturday nights in the winter.)
It was cold that night, or as cold as Texas tends to get in the winter, and we all cuddled up on the couch under this big blue quilt that my parents still have and has likely existed since the beginning of time or at least since my parents were married. I have a very clear memory of the movie beginning and seeing the stained glass prologue and thinking, “Wow,” or something similar to “wow” and spent the following however many minutes captivated. The songs! The emotions! The beauty! The beast! I laughed so hard at the talking wardrobe and rewound the scene when she jumps off a balcony and onto a pitchfork-carrying townsperson.
I don’t want to say this is one of the most blissful memories from my childhood, but I think maybe it might be one of the most blissful memories from my childhood! Just sitting on the couch with my mom and sister drinking hot chocolate in the Texas cold watching Beauty and the Beast. Feeling warm and safe and happy and quietly deciding that Aladdin and The Lion King weren’t nearly as good as this story about a fucked up French village.
The only ~Disney Renaissance~ movie that’s better is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Let’s fight.
The other week (after lunch at a lobster restaurant on a dock), I walked out to our rental van and found Ricky and Jeff loading the cooler into the trunk. Bobby was in the driver’s seat with his door closed, by himself and motionless.
I’d chucked and said, “What’s Bobby doing sitting alone in there like a loser?”
Then I walked up to his window, knocked, and motioned for him to roll it down.
But before I could even begin to give him shit for being antisocial, I heard “Gypsy” on the car radio and immediately understood.
And because I’d had two beers and was on acne medication, I started swaying there in the gravel parking lot outside our minivan. Swaying and smiling up at the sun and swinging my arms next to a mural of a lobster like a loopy suburban mom who loves a Mudslide and a Chico’s pant.
When the song was over I opened my eyes and said, “Gypsy is the best song,” and Bob said, “Yep.”
“'Nobody Is Ever Missing' is composed mostly of long, languid sentences that push into the night like headlights. They’re the sign of a writer settling in for a long backcourt game, one who is going to wear you down rather than go in for the kill. Sometimes these sentences lose their way, stall out or end up doubling back on themselves. Just as often, they are improbably beautiful, or simply cool and knowing.”—
I loved this book so much and am thrilled that it received such a positive review today.
My two favorite books so far this year, ‘Nobody Is Ever Missing’ and Roxane Gay’s ‘An Untamed State’, both follow women (Elyria and Mirelle) who have suddenly left their homes - albeit under t r e m e n d o u s l y different circumstances. They’re two women I will not soon forget. Two women who are as deserving of your attention as the writers who created them.
Some of my favorite tracks from film scores are the openers. The wordless prologues given the honor to open the movie and establish its atmosphere in a matter of seconds. (To be fair, I decided this only minutes ago while listening to The Piano, but after a few minutes I was able to think of a few more.)
So I made a Spotify playlist! One I will try to update regularly! The Essential Openers!