Let Me Paint You a Picture
Movies were made to be shared
L-I-V-I-N, Single-Mom Style
David Wooderson. Even some seasoned Austinites don't realize he had a first name. Since Matthew McConaughey branded that character onto the haunch of pop culture history in Dazed and Confused, he's become synonymous with post-glory days and burnouts on cradle-robbing benders. The Wooderson icon enjoys a dubious distinction, loaded – like a tight pair of pecker-packin' peach pantaloons – with the zest of perpetual adolescence and borderline douche-baggery. So don't think for one second that is without cringe that I confess: The idea has been floated on more than one occasion that I might qualify as the lesbian Wooderson. Not that there's anything wrong with that certain bemused joie de vivre, nailed so effortlessly by then-newcomer McConaughey, that ooze of charm and distinct flavor for younger ladies, per se ... unless, perhaps, you are a big ol' dyke who also happens to be a single mom raising a son.
None of this occurred to me when the film first hit video, the first time I sat down to share Rick Linklater's mid-Seventies ode with my then-preteen lad. I was more interested to share my own glory days, to commiserate with him that his was not the only generation of aimless kids searching for kicks. We already spoke frankly about sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but films from my own teendom – Little Darlings, Foxes, Times Square –felt a little too intimate, a little too revealing, a little too personal. Dazed and Confused was perfectly steeped in an Austin he'd recognize but draped in enough bell-bottomed denim and 4:11 Positracs to maintain comfortable distance. As we watched, I realized how much a window into younger Kate my kid was seeing. We laughed over explanations of why pliers were necessary to pull up jean zippers and that yes, that scene in the car with Shavonne, Simone, and Darla ("She called you a bitch! And you a slut! Haha!") hit so close to home. He wanted to know if I could snap a bottle cap like the cool senior girls or if I flubbed like freshman Sabrina. I told him that ever since its release when I was in fifth grade and for every year through high school, it was tradition for someone to bring Alice Cooper's "School's Out" on the last day of school. The film's best lines entered his cultural lexicon: I noticed he started saying, "Hey man!" to his friends, and "L-i-v-i-n!" took its rightful place next to Homer J. Simpson's "S-m-r-t!" He even wanted to see my high school yearbooks. It was the first time he saw me as ... well, not quite a peer, but something other than an authority figure. It definitely brought us closer together, and I wish he were not so far away this summer, that we might catch it on the big screen together.
This past fall, when I told Michael of a new dating interest, he asked how old she was. When I told him – well, you probably already know the punch line to this one – he said: "That's funny, ma. You get older; they stay the same age."
Dazed and Confused screens Saturday, May 28, 9:30pm, and Sunday, May 29, 4:30pm.