We All Want to Be Alone.

June 12, 2009

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Chevy Chase realized early on in watching From Here to Eternity that he had never swung into action. He’d ambled into action, sauntered into action, stumbled into action, but never had he swung. The crises in his own life had been far less immediate, and far more insidious and creeping, emerging slowly within the larger frameworks of family and career, until they finally announced themselves as having been present for years. But if a true catastrophe presented itself, one that required springing to attention and rushing to the scene? He was untested, perhaps shamefully so. As the credits rolled, Chevy Chase and his brother Alex sat sprawled at opposite ends of the couch.

“Hm,” his brother exhaled. “So Pearl Harbor happens, and suddenly their personal relationships… I guess, matter less than they did before?”

Chevy Chase stretched his arms. “Maybe not less, but they just take on a different magnitude.”

His brother looked over, perplexed. “So, they’re smaller, which means they’re less important, and matter less. Right?”

Chevy Chase chuckled. “Yeah, I guess. It’s kind of a Casablanca, problems-of-two-people, hill-of-beans kind of thing, I suppose.”

Alex Chase was silent for a moment, scratching the invisible hair on a barren chin. Then he asked, “Didn’t any of those soldiers just kind of run away when that happened? Didn’t anyone decide they’d rather just play out their illicit affairs or live with their girlfriends in the desert or something? Why are the problems of two people worth less than the problems of the world?”

Chevy Chase sat up and rubbed his eyes clear of the fatigue-induced fog that permeated them. “The fact that that question would even occur to you seems like such a luxury. There are millions of people who can’t afford to live alone, if you know what I mean.”

“Not especially.”

“Well, America can afford to live alone. You and I in particular, we can afford to live alone. That’s what everyone really wants. But some people need to be in the world, or they die, so they just have to put up with that fact.”

Alex Chase sighed. “Jesus. This conversation makes me want to leave the world, like permanently.” He slapped his forehead loudly. “So what you’re suggesting is that the kind of… escape that I’m proposing is a really bougie and privileged position, and that we can’t just forget the debt we owe to others?”

Chevy Chase shrugged. “Sure. If that’ll put this thing to bed, absolutely. I’m gonna go to sleep now, but feel free to pull the couch out.” And then he shuffled off to his bedroom, to be alone and content. Because after all, there was theory, and then there was practice.

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