' Cinema Romantico: It Takes One To Know One

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It Takes One To Know One

There's that indelible moment in "High Fidelity" when John Cusack's Rob Gordon has a come-to-Jesus talk with Bruce Springsteen in his mind. It's indelible because it so implicitly captures the relationship so many Springsteen-fanatics have with our idol, and how we turn to his music (and, by extension, him) for advice, companionship, reassurance, affirmation of joy, condolences in sorrow, etc. Of course, the film actually got to cast the real Bruce Springsteen, which was a coup and just totally awesome and as authentic as it was tongue-in-cheek, but it was more a metaphorical embodiment of that relationship than realistic. Which brings me to "Wild."

That's the one where Reese Witherspoon is playing Cheryl Strayed and she's on, like, a 47 billion mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, through the desert and into the Sierra Nevadas and so on and so forth. She's got a backpack that's, like, as big as Andre the Giant strapped on and her boots are too small and her toenails keep falling off. Shit's real, man. And then she comes to this rushing river and the only way across is a rudimentary log bridge and, you know, she's got the pack and the bad boots and success here is not a given. She focuses. She steadies herself. Yet, she still needs a little something extra, a little reassurance, a little guiding light. She says, out loud and to herself since no one is with her, "Come on, Bruce. Stay with me."


I was flabbergasted, yet not quite sure I'd heard her right. Did she say, "'Come on, Bruce?'" I thought to myself. "'Stay with me?' As in, Bruce Springsteen, stay with me? Like I do in certain situations? Did that really just happen?" Then, she makes it across the water triumphantly (spoiler alert!) and as she does, the soundtrack picks up with Bruce's (miraculous) "Tougher Than the Rest" already in progress, as if it's been playing in her head along, because it was, and now the film is allowing us all the way into her private mental moment, her own council with The Boss.

That. That's my relationship to Bruce Springsteen. Fourteen years ago last month I was in the midst of moving from Des Moines to Phoenix. It was early November and I set out a sunny morning from my hotel in Oklahoma City bound for Albequerque. The sun was out. It was cold but it was nice. Then in the Texas panhandle, it struck. That is, a snowstorm. A walloping snowstorm. This was some serious shit. It was blinding. I could barely see ten feet in front of my car. Traffic was crawling. Cars were all over the side of the road and in the ditch. Semis were upturned on the freeway. Amarillo was miles and miles away which was where I needed to get to to get off this road. It seemed at least semi-possible that I might die in a ditch. In Texas. Heaven help me, to die in Texas. That's not how I envisioned it. So I put on a Bruce Springsteen CD. I cranked it. "Come on, Bruce," I said out loud and to myself since no one was with me as I literally patted my dashboard above the stereo. "Stay with me."

From one fanatic to another, Cheryl Strayed, I salute you.

No comments: