The End Is Here

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The space heater I use to warm up this 200 sq. ft. room above our uninsulated garage was too much for my outlet, or I used it too much, or it was a faulty outlet. There. I think those are my options.

There’s an electrical problem, anyway, and so I can’t use my space heater, assuming it still works. This isn’t particularly urgent, since the outside temperature never gets below 50 these days and rarely that low, and it warms up quickly, usually. I’d just use the heater to take the edge off. I can be edgy in the morning. It’s fine.

It’s an indulgence, feeling toasty when there’s no need. I don’t feel guilty as much as embarrassed, a little. I’ve got nothing against comfort but it does strike me as being a dangerous goal sometimes. It lulls me, and I don’t feel particularly ready to be lulled.

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I took some friends to Pier 91 yesterday, with their six bags of luggage, to catch a cruise ship to Alaska. I’m happy for them, although I can’t imagine going anywhere but crazy on a cruise.

This was the first time they’d been in this section of the city in a while, and it was an eye-opener. The big Amazon explosion that expanded an existing nightmare into Freddy Krueger territory has settled down now, and it’s very sleek and modern and quite the contrast. Particularly to one of my passengers, who’s a Northwest native and has been seeing the city since the 1940s.

It was a busy morning that didn’t see me back home until early afternoon, when I sat at my desk eating a sandwich and wrapping up Fleabag.

I managed to overcome what queasiness I had about watching the show, although it was still oddly difficult. It’s peculiar, too, and I think I understand what’s going on. Doesn’t make it less peculiar.

I just think I’m trying to figure out where I fit in—and I probably have always been this way—and how I relate to these fictional people I watch on my monitor. It’s not just this show; I do this all the time, I realize. Where am I in this?

Nowhere, really. The title character’s father is the most likely match in Fleabag, and he’s easily a decade older. There wasn’t anyone my age, and lately there really hasn’t been. I’m a little younger than Nick Fury and a little older than Tony Stark, to give a recent example.

It’s not a big deal. It just seems to be a thing with me.

And it didn’t interfere with my watching, as far as I could tell, or prevent me from wanting to weep when it was over.

I just couldn’t binge-watch it. The closest I got was yesterday, when I wrapped up the final three 25-minute episodes at once. It’s hard when you get that close, but considering that there were only 12 episodes in total, about 5 hours’ worth of viewing, and it took me over a week to finish, there was obviously something going on. Something that led me to taking breaks between episodes. Like God intended.

Speaking of, I didn’t see God coming. God is sort of a character in the second season of Fleabag, popping up as a supernatural prankster, or, maybe, a fox. There’s a lot of interpretation involved.

As Fleabag sits in the local Catholic priest’s study, discussing her adamant atheism, a painting of Jesus slips off the wall. The priest, gloriously played by Andrew Scott (Moriarty in the BBC’s Sherlock, if you’ve seen that), just cracks up.

“I fucking love when He does that,” he cackles.

This is the only theology in Fleabag, the contrast between realistic nihilists and hopeful dreamers, and both types stake out their positions and are serious about it, as funny as the show is.

And it is. The show is great. It takes a perfectly ordinary theatrical device, breaking the fourth wall, and does an extraordinary thing: It pulls back and repairs the breach. It’s a powerfully subtle moment that took my breath away.

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You don’t have to see Fleabag. Or anything else. This is the frustration revolving around the abundance of riches we have these days; nothing we watch, are urged to watch, are told to watch, are pressured to watch, is going to change our lives. A great story can change the way I think about things, but episodic television is a specific way to tell it and it’s not the same as a book, say.

And you don’t have to read my book, or someone else’s book. Read your own book; you know what you like. I haven’t got a clue whether or not you’d enjoy Fleabag.

I just understand the fuss, now. I sometimes make little jokes to myself about perfection, about finding the perfect something, and I name them and change them as time goes on. Several times in my life I’ve decided that a movie, for example, was perfect. As perfect as movies can be (the most recent was Moonrise Kingdom, which I saw in the theater and haven’t seen again, maybe because I don’t have to).

But it’s just a joke, a game I play with affection and taste.

Still. Fleabag is perfect television, and I’m not sure it’s television, either. It kept me warm, whatever it is.

Chuck SigarsComment