When I was in college, I was required to take one language class. I’d taken two years of Spanish in high school, but it was a small school and that was really the only language offered. So at college I fought against logic and took French. I’m ashamed to say that I did well enough in school (mostly B’s) without studying - so I usually didn’t. (I suppose I picked up enough to get by- simply by listening in class. I have no other explanation - I can’t claim to be a genius when I wasn’t even smart enough to study. I can claim to be lazy and maybe a little stubborn.) Even as a six-year-old in first grade, I had no interest in learning the alphabet until the teacher explained that you needed to learn it in order to read and after that, she had to dangle books I did want to read in front of my imagination in order to force me to read the books I didn’t want to read. “Read the blue and red readers first; then you can read the book about the cats.”
French did not come easy. For the first time, I was studying. I made cue cards for myself and a huge poster of verb conjugations for my wall. It was no use. I was getting a solid “D” in the class and it was beginning to drag my other grades down. So for the first time, I dropped a class. (I may never have studied for one - but I never walked away from one before.) Because I never learned French, I saw the movie “Amelie” with English subtitles - but I’m not sure that was a bad thing. Reading subtitles forces attention to detail and Amelie is a movie about attention to detail.
On the surface, Amelie is a movie about a lonely young woman who lives in a world of her own-appreciating the world and caring for the people in it, but like an isolated satellite-separate from it. Until you watch the details and realize that you are watching a movie that appreciates all the myriad details about everyone . . . For instance:
“Raphael Pulain dislikes peeing next to someone else.
He also dislikes catching scornful glances . . . .
at his sandals . . .
clingy, wet swimming trunks.
Raphael Pulain likes . . .
peeling large strips of wallpaper . . .
lining up and shining his shoes . .
emptying his toolbox, cleaning it out . . .
and putting everything back.”
After you read the details about enough people on the screen, you become like Amelie-wondering what everyone around you likes and dislikes. Realizing THEY DO have little personal likes and dislikes that make them interesting and endearing and human. After that you realize that something as simple as thinking a little bit like Amelie could bring peace to the world.
Let me introduce myself . . Amelie style . .
“angiece dislikes . . .
the feel of her waistband touching her skin . . .
the texture of overly ripened bananas touching her tongue.
She also dislikes watching people smirk.
angiece likes cats . . .
she likes putting her face right next to theirs . .
the feel of their fur against her cheek,
the rumble of their purr against her ear.
When she was a child . . .
she would hide in the bushes next to a cat . . .
pretend she was one.”