Is there a movie that takes you back to the time you were a gangly, fluffy-haired teen? A teen who dressed in her dads woollen jumpers and let her dog chew the sleeves until they were ripped and straggly and easy to pull down over her hands? A teen who hid behind her hair, and deliberately walked with a slouch?
And when you watch that movie now, as an adult, who walks like she has a book balanced on her head because she’s terrified of growing an old-lady-hunchback, who gets up early and walks her dog in the park and drinks coffee with no sugar (well, I’m trying), it brings ALL those memories back, and invokes the feeling of being 15 years old again?
Yesterday, hungover after a night of too many martinis with friends, I dragged my sorry self to the video shop (no downloads for me) and hired Singles. Have you seen it? Matt Dillon wears a long-haired wig and plays in a band and Bridget Fonda is a barista in a cafe and wears black socks pulled down over her black boots and a hat and dances around her apartment eating salad, and Bill Pullman is a cosmetic surgeon, and Kyra Sedgewick promises her BFF “We will always go out dancing!!” just before she spots her Spanish lover canoodling at the bar with a big-haired blonde. And they all live in a singles apartment block in Seattle and they hang out and drink coffee and play music and have car accidents, and it’s basically about love and friendship and heartbreak and dating sites. It’s effing excellent.
When I was 14 years old and first discovering music – this was after my boyband phase: an obsession with New Kids on the Block as an 11 year old soon developed into a mild infatuation with Boyz II Men, which was short-lived – I fell desperately and hopelessly in love with grunge. I wore an Alice in Chains t-shirt. I cut out every picture of Chris Cornell I could find and stuck it to my wall. I camped out for tickets for Pearl Jam’s first Australian tour. I even started writing a story about becoming besties with Eddie Vedder’s girlfriend and giving them a tour of Melbourne (I still have it… I cringe when I get to the part where we visit the Dandenong Ranges and Stone Gossard and I sit by a stream chatting while he plays a guitar – o gosh, I can’t believe I just owned up to that…).
So when I read about Singles in Rolling Stone, I almost fell over myself, madly trying to find out when the theatrical release would be, if it had already screened, when it would be out on video (yes, VHS), and when O when I could get my hands on a copy.
Singles would have ignited no interest in me whatsoever, were it not for the fact that Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains AND Chris Cornell all had cameos. When I finally saw it, I was even more desperate to one day move to Seattle and live in that apartment block and wear floral dresses with long chain necklaces, and paint a chair on my balcony, and fall in love with my musician neighbour (only he would say ‘Bless You’ when I sneezed and not treat me like a groupie…). I was desperate to meet someone who would say “Wembolina, you rock my world” when he realised how madly in love with me he was and how he couldn’t live without me.
Gradually, my love of flannel-wearing guitarists and screamy music gave way to other loves – sensitive folk troubadours and ladies playing piano and soul and hip hop and, well, pretty much everything except the grunge of my youth – and Singles and Janet and Cliff became a distant memory.
Until yesterday. There it was, in comedy (which seems weird to me, because when I saw it as a kid it seemed so fraught with drama and heartache). I picked it up and added it to my pile of six other weekly films, got myself an icecream, and headed home for the ‘Wembolina’s Return to her Youth Film Festival’.
As soon as it started, Paul Westerberg singing my most hated song on the soundtrack (but now I kinda like it) I was 15 years old again. I was quoting every word. I was singing every song. I was getting butterflies in my tummy when Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard made their first appearance as Matt Dillon’s cohorts in Citizen Dick (“This weekend, we rock Portland!!). I was tearing up when Kyra Sedgewick wakes up in hospital after her car accident, and screaming “Pull yourself together!!” at the screen when Campbell Scott wigs out in his apartment after she leaves him to go on a month-long research trip.
I was worried before I put the disk into the DVD player. What if it hadn’t aged well? What if it ruined my memories of how much I LOVED this movie as a kid? What if it was stupid and not funny and poorly acted and miscast? What if I felt embarrassed, and cringed at the part where Layne Staley shakes his revolteh dread-locked head in the club scene at the start?
But… It was great. I flipping loved it. It was just as good 18 years later (sheesh, that makes me feel old…). It makes me want to wear a flannel shirt and listen to Ten and go and see Soundgarden when they play here in a few weeks. And it kinda makes me wants to dig out that story I started and finish it.
Do you have a Singles? Something that makes you blush a little bit? Something that invokes that teen spirit?