Oh, Oh, It Might Have Been

It was a memorable time while it lasted, I’ll tell you that---a strange, kind of magical feeling that just washed over me one summer day out of the clear blue sky. It hit me just as I was coming out of Seven Eleven with orange Gatorade and sunflower seeds and was sitting down at one of the two white plastic tables that Ammar the morning manager had set out on the sidewalk back in May. At first I couldn’t identify the feeling, and thought for a moment that I was still a little high from the joint I’d done three hours earlier. But then I realized that the moment had simply come, and for six straight minutes, I was finally in the mood to watch Fried Green Tomatoes.

I guess there’s no telling what might have happened if in that moment I had been in a video store or flipping through the channels at home and noticed that Fried Green Tomatoes could be rented on Pay-Per-View for $1.99. The sad fact is, I was at Seven Eleven and in no position to do anything about it. So I tried my best to enjoy the feeling while it lasted, and appreciate it for what it was. How long I had dreamed of the day when I’d find myself in the mood to finally watch Fried Green Tomatoes! And suddenly it was on top of me. I could picture the movie poster in my mind, and for no reason I could put my finger on, I found myself not having anything in particular against Jessica Tandy or Kathy Bates. I remember thinking, “It was kind of a hit when it came out….it might be something to talk about with Grandma…hell, why not?” And then, just as quickly as it had come, the mood to watch Fried Green Tomatoes faded like gossamer on the breeze. I was left with half a gallon of orange Gatorade and a sixteen ounce bag of sunflower seeds and no interest at all in watching that thing. No one had even been around to witness the moment.

Now it’s years later, and sometimes these days I think about those six minutes and I both smile and feel sad at the same time. There might come a day when lightning strikes again, but as I get a little older I feel that life has lost just a little bit of its capacity to amaze, and that brief brush with the directorial work of Jon Avnet (Up Close and Personal, 88 Minutes) just isn’t ever going to be duplicated. If anyone even mentions Fried Green Tomatoes in the course of conversation I tend to tune them out, wondering why anyone would ever want to watch that Mary Stuart Masterson-ridden piece of crap. But late at night, when I’m alone, it kind of feels like a whirlwind summer fling once lifted me up and set me back down again, somewhat wiser than I was before…or did I lose a tiny part of myself forever? I’m reminded of some immortal lines from Robert Frost: “I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence / Two roads diverged in a wood, and I / I took the one less traveled by / and that has made all the difference.” I guess in this case the road less traveled is the one with people who have never watched Fried Green Tomatoes.

It’s not at all like the time I got the urge to get into bowhunting. That was just a big bloody weekend mess, and the mayor still has a little limp because of it, which he’s kind of bitter about. He keeps having my garbage pickup cut off. Can he do that?