I cried my way through Casablanca again the other night. I know it’s dated, but to me it remains one of the most romantic movies ever made. If only it mirrored my life.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m as sad as the next person to watch Rick and Louis walk off into the beginning of their beautiful friendship, but I can’t help feeling a little jealous that Rick and Ilsa’s situation at the closing of their love affair far outshines any that I have ever suffered. I mean, if I round up my usual suspects, I didn’t leave many of them with my dignity intact. How come no one ever saw me as doing the noble thing? No matter how much effort I put into them, my broken love affairs have never been as romantic or as soppily sentimental as most of those that I see on the screen.
Okay, so my pathetic love affairs over the years probably didn’t amount to a hill of beans in the greater scheme of things either, but I don’t remember any of my exes getting all macho and murmuring “We’ll always have Paris” (or “…Joburg” or “…Cape Town” or “…Sun City”) as I got all misty-eyed and prepared to leave them. Ah well, perhaps the problem is that – apart from the fact that I’m not exactly a dead ringer for Ingrid Bergman – I never seem to leave for a better life with a better man when I leave my true love – who, by the way, is never exactly Humphrey Bogart either!
My partings always seem to involve me packing up and becoming homeless, usually amidst petty recriminations about how I stole the last of the washing powder or something equally unromantic. Plus, of course, I never look my best in those moments. I don’t do hats with wide, sweeping brims and I can never get that dewy-eyed and tragic perfection right either. No, there’s nothing Bergmanesque about me – more like blotchy-faced and snivelling, or bitchy granite-faced and spitting, as I throw the last of my cheap clothing into a broken suitcase or forty cardboard boxes.
The only similarity that I have to Ingrid Bergman is that I usually have to ask for help with the transport in getting out of there. But in my case it’s because inevitably my break-ups happen hand-in-hand with a traffic accident or a torn shoulder ligament. Yup, I have a string of exes who saw nothing wrong in dumping me when I was down. Nice!
Oh, and if I had a few bucks for each time anyone’s ever remarked about how much stuff I have, then I’d be a rich woman by now. A rich, older woman. Like a cougar, perhaps, except that I never seem to have that kind of luck either. Just baggage. Lots of it.
Anyway, back to Casablanca. If only I could believe that, for every sorrowful parting, there was an equivalent “We’ll always have…” line, then perhaps I’d get over them quicker. Trouble is, it’s never taken my fair-weather boyfriends long to re-visit Paris with someone whom they find far more exciting than me. In one case, he found her before he left me, but let’s not dig up old bones…
Often this new person is so much more dazzling than me, that he actually marries her. I was special, but never special enough for him to marry. To this day, although I can watch Casablanca, I can’t watch Four Weddings & A Funeral because of the excruciating agony that Hugh Grant’s character inflicts on that poor girl. You know – the one he leaves at the altar when Andie MacDowell’s character suddenly becomes available again. I know what it feels like to be that second-best love – I’ve played it and it’s not a role I’d recommend.
As time goes by I repeatedly ask myself the same old question: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, why did he have to walk into mine and totally screw up my life?” And after I’ve played that movie again, Sam, I’ll go back to writing my latest romance novel.
Bogie and Bergman – bring it on!
Picture courtesy of www.freedigitaldownloads.com Eiffel Tower by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee.