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Lunchroom Loser
posted: 9/28/02

Last night, in what is becoming a very-late-Friday-night ritual (since I don't go out or do... really anything anymore, on account of the foot), I plopped in another DVD at midnight. This time it was the Rushmore Criterion Collection.

Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson, etc. Not gonna get into it. Am a fan. 'Nuff said.

I watched the film with the commentary on, which was pretty good. A lot of stuff I knew, a lot of stuff I didn't. Interesting to compare with The Royal Tenenbaums commentary, and the formidable quantity of collected miscellany where the latter is concerned. Tenenbaums is far more verbose, but, I think, was a lot more work, especially with respect to sets and ensemble and so forth. The Rushmore release includes commentary by Anderson, Wilson and Jason Schwartzman, who played Max Fischer. Anderson was all about angles and performances, Wilson was all about funny and uncomfortable lines, and Schwartman was all about fear and first times. Fairly enjoyable stuff.

Wilson latched on to one line in particular, and for me, it's one of the funniest and saddest of the film. I'm skipping most of the setup. The line is, spoken by Max to the father, who is a barber: "Pipe dreams, dad. I'm a barber's son." This was in response to the father's inquiry about his son's future, in an attempt to, I think, cheer him up and remind him of his previous dreams of grandeur. No one had dreamed bigger than Max. To which Max replies: "Pipe dreams, dad. I'm a barber's son."

I frequently dream of high school. Still. And this is nocturnal slumber I'm talking about, not "Oh how I wish I was in high school." I'm not sure how common this is of someone my age, but I'm sure Freudians will have a nice romp with this information. Often times in these dreams I am in my current adult state, and some but not all characters are also adults, but we're back in high school.

Last night, or very early morning, after I watched a clip of Bill Murray being interviewed by Charlie Rose about the film - in which Rose very surprisingly did not drone on and on and on, as is his usual custom (the show is included on the DVD; Wes Anderson's time with Charlie follows directly, and I watched that this morning), I drifted off to sleep. I was awakened around 6am this morning by the following dream's conclusion.

I am in high school. The setting is, more or less, my corporate cafeteria at work. My brain does these sorts of things. So I'm in high school, this is my high school, but the set has been redecorated, and we've imported the cafeteria from work. The players tacitly accept these facts. I am dressed, more or less, like Max Fischer. At least, I'm wearing ill-fitting khaki pants that don't quite touch the top of my shoes. There is sock involved in the presentation. I don't think I had the blue blazer on, but there might have been a cheap brown ski parka in there somewhere.

Classmates stream by. Most of them are in their high school state, but a few are adult-ish. A few have grown up. I am sitting alone at a table for four, as I recall. I am drinking Peach Snapple (which wasn't around when I was in high school).

My father walks into the lunchroom, with a tray of food. He is an adult. He is not in high school.

I remember in grade school, at least, that for some kids, having their parents show up for lunch was a real embarassment. Yet, every week or so, some kid's mom or dad would show up and eat in the lunchroom, sitting on these tiny, tiny chairs (ever go back and visit a grade school? Everything is miniscule). It was sometimes awkward for the parent's kid, but it was always really awkward for the other kids, because everyone felt like they had to be on very good behavior for this large person dropping by on the lunch hour.

In high school, I don't recall ever seeing a parent visit for lunch in the lunchroom. That would almost certainly have led to cruel ridicule, of both student and parent. And actually, I just about never ate in the lunchroom in high school. Where I went to school, good old Memorial H.S., Tulsa, OK, at least in my day, I believe regulations have changed by now, if you were a freshman or sophomore you had to eat in the cafeteria. I came to Memorial in tenth grade. I think I ate in the cafeteria maybe five times that year. It was against the rules, but I always caught a ride with someone and had lunch off-campus. Some of the most dangerous driving done, ever, was done during those one-hour periods, where roughly 500 hormone-addled youngsters were turned loose on fast food joints in an approximate five-mile radius of the school.

In my dream, as I mentioned, I am sitting alone. My father looks nothing like Seymour Cassell, the actor who plays Max' father in Rushmore. But dream-dad is dressed like Cassell was dressed in the film, and a few of my father's facial features have curled up and become somewhat Cassell-like. My father walks toward me, leans over, says something not unpleasant, asks how I am doing. I respond - I don't recall what, but I'm guessing I said I was fine, and I gesture to the seat across from me. My father looks at the seat, looks at me. Then he turns to his right and sees a table across the aisle from mine. Unoccupied.

My father scuttles across the aisle, deposits his tray of food on the table, sits, looks away from me, and begins to eat.

Classmates (and, I believe, a few adult co-workers from the here and now real world) watch in stunned silence. Rick Linker, who played saxophone in my high school band, sees the whole exchange as he's walking by a few aisles over. He's in teen-form. In a panic I give Rick a frantic head nod that says: get your ass over here and help me save some face. Rick practically runs away. No one wants a piece of this. You can feel the room shudder and moan.

I am flushed with anger. I am now [filmed] in slow motion. There was a lot of Peach Snapple left, and I tilt my head back, and I drain it. The camera is shooting this from behind and above my head, so as I'm drinking, you're looking down my forehead and nose to the bottle. I put the empty container down on the table, I get up, and I walk out of the lunchroom, down the hall, through automatic glass doors (just like at work), confused and pissed as hell. Creation's "Marking Time" is playing as soundtrack. This was the big theme in Rushmore, which played during opening credits and during the first of Max' revenge scenes against Blume. The one with the bees in the hotel, where Max exits the elevator with the Rushmore Beekeeping Society box, and sticks the gum on the wall. In slo-mo.

I'm in slo-mo now, but I'm walking very fast.

Then I woke up.

Go ahead Sigmund. Do me up right.

[One of] the [many] fact[s] of the matter is: I really am a barber's son.

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