Last Thursday was Halloween and through some convoluted process – which seems to be the only way my mind works – it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite movies, “The Big Chill.”
As I was writing that opening paragraph it reminded me of a story. (See what I’m saying about a convoluted thought process?)
Earlier this year the cartooning community lost one of the greats, Dwane Powell. After his memorial service a bunch of us gathered in his condo with his fabulous wife Jan and started telling stories.
One of the stories was about a bunch of cartoonists riding a hotel elevator when the doors opened and Kevin Costner got on.
It was one of those scenes where everyone knows it’s Kevin Costner and Kevin Costner knows they know and nobody is saying anything because Kevin doesn’t want to come off like a jerk and the crowd wants to act cool – like hanging out with a giant movie star happens to them all the time.
Then one of the cartoonists – and being a smartass is a job requirement – came up with this: “Loved you in The Big Chill.”
Just in case you’re not up on your movie history: Kevin Costner was the corpse at the beginning of the movie. His part was supposed to be bigger (he wasn’t all that well known at the time), but all those scenes got cut and movie-goers never got to see his face.
Awesome one-liner, but apparently, Kevin was not amused.
That story reminds me of another story in which Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin head-butted a cartoonist off a bar stool in Milwaukee, but let’s save that for another time.
Back to the Big Chill
There’s one scene from The Big Chill that comes back to me all the time, probably because I relive it on a daily basis.
Michael is played by Jeff Goldblum and Sam is played by Tom Berenger and Michael has just explained why he’s such an asshole about getting what he wants, but claims that everyone else does the same thing, they’re just less honest about it. Sam says he’s rationalizing:
Michael: Don't knock rationalization; where would we be without it? I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex.
Sam: Oh come on, nothing's more important that sex.
Michael: Oh yeah? You ever gone a week without a rationalization?
Here’s a link to the longer version of that scene which I have thoughtfully provided and if you watch it and think you need to see The Big Chill again, or – heaven forbid – haven’t ever seen it at all, I won’t blame if you stop reading now and go watch it.
You back? Awesome, wasn’t it?
And now back to where we started
Before I got sidetracked by The Big Chill, Kevin Costner and Robert Plant head butts, I was talking about Halloween and rationalization.
(And you might want to brace yourselves, I’m about to do some championship-level rationalizing.)
The problem with Halloween is you never know how many kids are going to show up at your door, so you never know how much Halloween candy you’re going to need. The obvious solution is to overbuy rather than underbuy which apparently isn’t a word, but I think we can all agree should be.
And if you’re going to be stuck with too much candy because you thought one or two bags would be enough, but bought six just to be sure, it’s a wise policy to buy candy you like.
(Screw the kids and what they want; if they like Sweet Tarts, they should get a damn job and go buy some.)
So anyway, me and my house went with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and three types of Snickers; regular, almond and peanut butter.
The presence of a big bowl of deliciousness sitting unprotected by my front door was on my mind all evening and finally I got up and took one of each when nobody was looking. I figured if I got caught scarfing down the candy meant for kids I had an excellent reason: I was checking the candy to make sure it was safe for children.
To hell with X-raying the stuff to check for razor blades and needles, bring it by my house and I’ll throw myself on an Almond Joy like someone throwing themselves on a hand grenade in a WWII movie to save the rest of the squad.
That’s just the kind of guy I am.
And of course anything checking is worth double-checking so I repeated the procedure later in the evening. I mean who can argue with someone that concerned with child safety?
A balanced diet
On my second candy bowl raid I managed to end up with two Peanut Butter Cups and one of each kind of Snickers and I realized my selections were unbalanced. I could have put back one of the Peanut Butter Cups, but at that moment it seemed much wiser to add more Snickers so I’d have two of each.
I went from five pieces of candy to eight, but doctors advise a balanced diet and I wouldn’t want to argue with the medical community unless it’s to my benefit which is a situation that will come up before this piece ends.
Finishing things off
I’m pretty selective about my “balancing things out” policy; it mostly applies to candy and cookies – I don’t recall ever asking for an extra piece of broccoli so I’ll have four instead of three.
“Balancing things out” reminded me of another rationalization I use almost daily: “finishing things off.”
Let’s say you get yourself a bowl of ice cream or piece of pie and there’s just a scoop or sliver left over. I don’t want to disappoint the next person that feels the need for a “Cookie Dough” ice cream fix or a wedge of pecan pie topped with Cool Whip, so I thoughtfully add that extra little left over bit to my serving and finish things off.
I’ve also developed a theory that if you cram enough calories into your body at the same time it can’t absorb everything and those extra calories shoot through your intestinal system like a shoplifter getting lost in a crowd.
Science has yet to back me up on this, but there was a time they thought smoking would soothe your throat, so I’m not relying on those quacks to tell me what to eat.
As near as I can tell genetics seems to have a lot more to do with a long life than diet and exercise and my mom’s 94 so I figure I’m playing with house money.
Rationalization, the all-purpose tool
As you might imagine, my dietary guidelines have resulted in a few extra pounds so I try to exercise regularly to balance things out. That exercise mainly takes the form of walking which I try to do for an hour each and every day unless I can come up with a good reason not to.
Yesterday was cold with a biting wind; not my favorite walking weather. So when I drove to the bank and three microscopic beads of rain appeared on my windshield, I said to hell with the walk – I wasn’t going out in a downpour.
If you’ve run out of ways to rationalizing doing whatever you want to do and need to borrow some of mine, feel free. And remember, the ability to rationalize is more important than sex:
Just ask Jeff Goldblum.
And if you think I’ve used similar ending before and wonder how I can do it again; it’s simple.
I rationalized it.