The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: If I Thought About It Carefully

June 14, 2009

If I Thought About It Carefully

There are always clues. No matter what they tell you, there are always signs, hints, and signals that something is about to happen. Unfortunately, hindsight is twenty-twenty. As The Therapist says, "You only have the information you have at the time, so we move forward with what we know."

If I thought about it very carefully, the first sign of this depression came in February. I was listening to NPR's Day to Day on the way to work. The show was being cancelled due to budget cuts and it was the last week it would be on the air. All week, segments centered around saying goodbye and endings.

On this particular morning, the person being interviewed was David Seltzer, the screenplay writer of Willy Wonker and The Chocolate Factory. In its first draft, Seltzer left the ending of the screenplay exactly as the book ended, with the word "Yippee!"

Mel Stuart, the director, calls Seltzer while he's on vacation in the middle of nowhere, saying, "Yippee? That's not a screenplay, that's not a movie!" As Seltzer tells it, the call completely takes him by surprise. Stuart is right in the middle of shooting the scene, the crew is waiting, it's costing the movie $30,000 an hour.

Seltzer takes a moment, and what emerges from his mouth becomes the classic ending for years to come. Willy Wonka and Charlie are going up in the spaceship. Willy announces to Charlie that the chocolate factory is now his. Then he says, "But Charlie, you do know what happens to the little boy that suddenly got everything he ever wanted, don't you?"

Fear comes across Charlie's face. "No, what?"

Willy says, "He lives happily ever after."

The host asks Seltzer to leave the listeners with a happy ending, of sorts. And this is what Seltzer says, "They all lived happily ever after. That's you, that's your crew, that's everybody who does all this good work in spite of this particular moment in time. You shall."

Listening to this man, a complete stranger to me, proclaim a happy ending with such surety and such compassion, I started to cry. I thought about my own life, my own desires for a happy ending, my own fears about what the possibility of one, and part of me just wanted to take his word for it. I was going to live happily ever after. In spite of this particular moment in time. I shall.

Looking back, I realize I was looking for hope, even back then. I knew some things -- I wasn't happy with where I was at with my work. I knew I had dread. I knew something was missing. What I didn't know was that in a few weeks many things would change and that the journey was actually beginning that morning, in my car, listening to a seemingly benign story on NPR.

Today, I think about living happily ever after. That's not a promise of the Christian walk, unfortunately. But there is something to be said about that surety, that declaration on your life. Maybe it's not happily ever after that I need said over my life. Maybe it's something a little simpler.

What that is, I'm not so sure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a "happily ever after" sealed for the Christian! But it doesn't always appear as a "happily now." The apostle Paul says, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." That chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, is good reading. Paul concludes with thankfulness and victory!