Autumn Phillips: Six hours, four women
April 22, 2004
What creatures of mystery. What walls surround the female psyche.
What noise they make as they reach for another tortilla chip and another thick scoop of seven-layer dip.
Look at them, knees under the coffee table like eager workers at a desk. Chests pressed against the table reaching for more cheese dip or another Oreo.
It was Sunday afternoon.
Outside it was spitting snow and rain and hail and wind.
Recommended Stories For You
And the flood was 40 days upon the Earth, and the waters increased and bore up the women deeper and deeper into their living room, slurping and scratching at bags full of salty and sweet snacks bought just for the occasion.
By 4 p.m., they were stuffed and goggle-eyed as they watched the second season of “Sex and the City” in its entirety.
It was the perfect end to a long day of weather-induced boredom, and I was happy to be one of them.
The morning was spent at Mocha Molly’s, staring at the drizzle through the glass door of the coffee house and drinking so much caffeine that I almost chewed my arm off.
Once I realized my condition, I left the carcass of my New York Times spread out on the table and walked home.
The next few hours were spent like Martin Sheen in his hotel room in “Apocalypse Now,” with me pacing barefoot from the living room to the bedroom and back again.
I curled up on the couch and read Lester Bang’s cough-syrup analysis of The Stooges, Lou Reed and Charles Mingus.
As the hours passed and the pages turned, I began to believe I could play the trumpet. I opened the case and put the trumpet to my lips. Call what I played free jazz. Call it a disappointment.
Such is boredom and such it was that led us all to that table full of tortilla chips, Oreo cookies, untouched carrot sticks and 12 episodes of “Sex and the City.”
For the rest of the day, the “woman as mysterious creature myth” eroded in half-hour increments — on both sides of the TV screen.
The show’s characters represented the four archetypes of women and how well they float in relationship waters. The four Beatles of dating.
We watched as they waded through a parade of men. Men who couldn’t commit. Men who didn’t call back. Men whose baggage was so heavy they couldn’t get off the runway.
They were men who we in that living room had all met, and those four women on the television were living our lives, be it in $400 shoes. But watching them, separated from the dating world by a sheet of glass and a remote control, we could laugh.
Those four women, or the writers behind them, asked the questions we were afraid to ask. More importantly, they made six hours’ worth of caustic, funny-yet-poignant comments that made the concept of humiliating ourselves at the alter of companionship a little less embarrassing.
I never fell into the “Sex and the City” craze while it was actually happening. I saw the show’s last three episodes when one of my fully addicted friends found herself without a television on Sunday nights.
I had no idea who those four women were or why so many women seemed to identify with them. (I also have the curious affliction/belief that if everyone else likes it, it must be lowest common denominator, mediocre garbage. For years, I refused to check it out.)
So much for belief systems in the face of boredom.
Somewhere near 11 p.m., I stumbled out to my car, drunk on Oreos and milk. The snow had stopped, and the sky was clearing. I pushed a layer of rain-sopped snow off my car.
I stood there for a moment and asked myself, “Is it better for the mind to see a show at the height of its hype, leaked out to you one episode at a time, or is it better to watch it all at once, like a novel?”
And had I learned anything from those six hours, other than that some women (the kind who write their columns in bed) always end their columns with a question?