The movie “Swingers” and half-finishedness
It’s 12:49 a.m. and I want to write something. My computer is at nine percent battery, my charger is downstairs and I’m in bed. But you can’t not get the writing out. Ah, screw going back to change that double negative. Let’s rage against the dying of the (electronic) light. Also, let’s keep this brief:
Throat sufficiently cleared; stage set. I watched the first 20 minutes of Swingers before I shut it down. I love the movie, but was too restless for Vince Vaughn and Favreau. It also hit too close to home, I think: the restlessness of the characters, the yada yada yada wallowing. What a movie. What a movie for millennials, before we knew what to call ourselves.
I then played one half game of video game football. I read half a page of a book. I fell half asleep and then woke the hell up.
I keep going back and forth on what to write. I have some real newsy things half started on word docs. I’ve got think pieces half thought.
In Swingers, Trent (Vaughn) and Mikey (Favreau) go to “Vegas Baby.” They can’t stop saying it. Vegas Baby, Vegas Baby, Vegas Baby, like a mantra, like a willing of the mantra into the thing you want it to be. But Mikey falls asleep in the passenger seat. Trent really believes that he’s going to find the “beautiful babies.” It’s going to be the trip worth taking. Mikey just looks like a kid too tired for the field trip. His girlfriend left him. He wears his heartbreak like a cheap suit.
But then the neon lights of Vegas appear over the hill and life jumps into Mikey. Vegas Baby, he whispers, as if he can’t believe that he believes it.
I opened my computer without the slightest idea of where this was going to take me. I had a clever line, a beginning, that’s enough to get on the road. And once you click play on your music and the neon Apple screen buzzes on, it starts to feel a little better.
I’m sitting here and for the life of me I can’t remember how Swingers ends. I think Mikey doesn’t call his girlfriend back, but my computer is now down to five percent so there’s not enough time to look it up. I’m going to try to post this tonight, because by tomorrow morning, I’ll have realized it’s half-finished and should stay that way.
The only time I went to a casino I lost all of my betting money. I blew it at blackjack, playing the minimum in Atlantic City. I went out to the boardwalk with my buddy and ate a slice of pizza, paying with the last cash I was willing to part with. I sat at a plastic picnic table until it was time to crash on a hotel floor.
There’s a great moment in Swingers, it’ll fly right by if you don’t pay attention. Mikey just took a big loss at the casino. He just wants to go home, back to his crummy, muddy Los Angeles apartment. Trent says something like—and I’ll tell you want, you know who the big winner is tonight, it’s you Mikey. Trent takes Mikey’s wrist and raises it like a prizefighter who just won the heavyweight title. It’s a friend being a friend. Just getting Mikey to begrudgingly hold his grin back was enough.
Sometimes, you just have to grab the feeling of going for it and follow the light in the distance. Mikey wanted to turn back halfway to Vegas. But then he wouldn’t have been the big winner. He did something; he carried it through. That’s being the big winner for him—it’s the thing behind the thing, behind the thing that gets him out of his funk.
This post doesn’t feel like the big winner, but it’s finished. It isn’t a word doc left silent in a folder titled “blog ideas.” Now it floats out into the vast, dark Internet. And I’m pretty sure Mikey didn’t call her back.
I’m running on reserve power on my laptop. It’s going to be close.