I went to breakfast with MomDonna today, because: Mother’s Day, you buncha idiots.
I mentioned when she asked what I’ve been up to – after the initial flashback panic to when she’d ask me that as a kid, knowing full well that I’d been up to being a little shit – that I’d been mostly staying home, since it was a Dry Week. Which basically means I’d watched a lot of movies, including A Man Called Otto.
Me: I was actually kind of surprised that I liked it. It didn’t seem to get good word of mouth during its release.
Mom: You know, we watched that, too. But it was so sad, with all the suicides –
Me: Gotta love a movie with a warning label!
Mom: – that we had to watch another movie right afterward. Something fluffy. What was it honey? Something about taking a gigolo to a wedding.
Mom: Who was the girl in that?
Me: Debra Messing.
Mom: I think that’s the only movie I remember her doing. Of course, your father thought it was Amy Adams, but I knew that wasn’t right. And who was that boy?
Me: Dermot Mulroney. Also, you’re kidding. Wedding Date? I watched it right afterward, too!
Which just led to an entire side conversation about why dad would watch that movie – or care that they did. Short answer: young Amy Adams. When mom heard that, something snapped into place with her and I could see the realization that she’d been outfoxed by dad’s inner Bill Clinton, which he usually keeps well hidden.
Of course, I knew the next maternally owned synapse that fired started a list of ways in which dad would slowly pay for low key tricking my mother and enjoying a movie he normally wouldn’t for reasons she would think he totally shouldn’t.
All of this was a welcome distraction from the potential conversation that I am Otto.
And I admit it.
Not because people are idiots – which, they totally are. Here’s how I know people are idiots: they don’t know it.
But, rather, because I never read the source material for the movie. That would be a book called A Man Called Öve.
Maybe a bunch of my gentle readers already knew that. Probably so, since I don’t just give away the honor of being excluded from the population I commonly refer to as Stupid Americans. That has to be earned by demonstrating intelligence or good taste or critical thinking skills. All things that following my blog would certainly indicate.
However, the reason I’m sure many people did not know what the source material is is because the movie originally took the book’s title, but it didn’t test well, so they changed it. Likely, said testing likely occurred with the aforementioned Stupid Americans.
We’re fighting a culture battle in this country that is not at all figuratively a battle of wits. Remember: never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
So, that’s how we end up with the movie’s name.
But that’s not the point. Or the full point, anyway.
The point is that I never read the book.
I had thought it looked like one I’d appreciate, but never deigned to find out. You see, I was working at the airport at the time. My business was running five news/gift shops, so I definitely saw the book. Not just daily when I made rounds to my stores, but dozens of times on the concourses being carried conspicuously by the unwashed masses that also looked like they hadn’t a clue what they were doing or where they were going. Or how that book ended up in their hand.
There they were, just careening – or more likely, moseying – down the concourses while I moved about with a determined gait and obvious focus as I navigated around them. More often than not, a close call would cause me to mutter some iteration of Otto’s frequent pejorative: idiots.
That is what struck me about Otto: his and my own righteous grumpopatomus tendencies.
Certainly, his were kinder, having limited himself to the sole label of “idiot”. Also certain, in real life those labels were likely cleaned up to allow book and ticket buyers the deniability of being included as targets of Öve/Otto’s ire.
Can’t bite the hand of the idiots that feed you, after all.
As an example of that phenomenon, here’s a few examples of how this manifests in my day to day. Most of the time, it’s fairly gentle – unless you’re the target.
perceived offense is particularly WTF, they’ll earn something closer to this.
But I try to reserve that for my friends and closer acquaintances. They get me enough to not be offended. Or when I’m alone in my car, which happens often. The expletive, not the alone in my car part – which should be assumed. Nowadays when I’m in my car it’s usually to take some lazy idiot his chicken nuggies.
For the rest of those fucking idiots, I keep it in my head. I know them well enough to know they’d rather go to the trouble of retaliating for my correct assessment versus accepting the feedback and working toward a better version of themselves. It’s easier to just be a problem for everyone else.
It still surprises me that none of my friends made the connection. To me, at any rate. Who knows, it’s entirely possible they saw my personality in that character but just didn’t mention it. I mean, the day after this Portlandia sketch aired I woke up to several texts and emails calling me out…but I’d missed it because the show was on too late and I was already in bed!