‘Tis Sunday morning just before 9am, and I am here typing away at the keyboard as a bird chirps outside. The sound of a car passing by. All is pleasant. The perfect time for a post on This Here Illustrious Blog (Or “THIB” for those who like to make random acronyms out of everything… which I guess is me).
Last night my wife and I watched “Legally Blonde” together… and I saw it for the first time in probably 5 years or so. But I have seen it at least 5 times before that. I first saw it back when I was a student at UC Berkeley (yes, here’s my coy admission that I spent time at “elite” schools, UC Berkeley being where I ended up after dropping out of college and coming back to the West Coast), when our on-campus student entertainment club arranged a screening of it in one of the big campus auditoriums.
Truly joyous experiences in college were few and far between for me, but this was one of them. In “Legally Blonde,” I found Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon’s character) to be a much-needed jolt of positive energy on the barren landscape of my life (I’m not trying to be melodramatic here, I’m simply admitting that I really wasn’t having all that much fun back then). Now let me be clear that my reaction to her was not of the crush variety (like was the case for Elisabeth Shue mentioned in a previous post). With Elle Woods, I was pleasantly enchanted and admiring of this wonderful character, a fashion major and sorority girl, who boldly went forth in the face of rejection by her boyfriend and decided to go to Harvard Law to become a Lawyer! Because, as she says, “What? Like it’s hard?”
That was a time in my life when I was seeking inspiration and guidance, which I often found in movies (other notable film inspirations from the time: “American Beauty,” “Patch Adams,” and “Life As A House”… and a year later, “8-Mile,” which would change everything for me). I was a year and a half out from dropping out of college, and even though I was back in school at a place that worked a lot better for me, I was still quite ambivalent about the whole higher-education thing. I was a strange guy, in a strange time, and adjusting to a strange new place. I needed something that made me feel good. This movie fit the bill!
On another note, though I never applied for Harvard, I did consider applying there after my high school college counselor “nudged” me lightly in the direction of going there (which undoubtedly would make him look good). Also, I won the Harvard book award, since I was top of my class and therefore valedictorian. I’m not saying this to brag (although I guess I am proud of these things). After all, my first college choice proved to be disastrous, a total shit show of personal suffering that I endured for a year and a half before dropping out, coming back home, and starting to get focused for real on my own happiness. I’m merely saying that this movie hit multiple personal nerves, and it managed to make a heavy subject like going to Harvard into a fun, and heart-warming story! It was like Mary Poppins or Pippi Longstocking came swooping in on a cloud of warm air and cast a magic spell of joy and lightness over my stressed out existence.
What I also have always admired about this character in the movie (and admired as well watching it last night), is how Elle boldly sets forth on a completely new path in life, takes a complete 180, going against all stereo-types and conventions, and pursues a dream. She does it with total conviction, and she SUCCEEDS. I know this is a movie, but damn! That shit is inspiring.
It’s always amazing for me to see people who aren’t afraid of what other people think of them… or who at least, don’t get stopped by that. Elle Woods takes a lot of shit from just about everyone when she gets to Harvard. She is the odd California duck in a sea of stodgy East Coastians (Incidentally, that was how I felt a few years prior!). And somehow she triumphed through this experience, while maintaining her character and integrity (and PINKNESS). I always admire personal stories of integrity and character, especially with joy-bringers like Reese Witherspoon/Miss Woods.
I have always hoped to be a heroic character in my own life as well. And although I have probably failed frequently in this department, I am at least grateful to be able to gain inspiration from others like this wonderful movie character. Because, as I said in my last post, I’m not done, I’m still growing… and maybe someday I will have learned my lesson, and will finally live life with the same level of aplomb and personal liberation that seems to characterize my inspirations.
By the way, I wish this same freedom for you as well. May you be happy, healthy, wealthy, and free in all respects!
Repeat after me…. What, like it’s hard???