Yesterday we went to see Coco Before Chanel. For once the cinema was full. They even gave us numbered seats, which never happens. Sometimes we sit there and watch a funny film and we are the only ones in the whole cinema who are laughing.
This time Lanying sat at the back and I sat at the front because I’d forgotten my good pair of glasses.
The film was excellent. Fortunately I didn’t read any reviews before I went so I just lost myself in it and thought serious thoughts about love and jealousy and the pursuit of happiness.
No-one is perfect, I thought, and emotions are never pure. Sometimes we love someone in spite of their flaws. Sometimes we have our own selfish motives mixed up in the love. But there is a kind of sanctity there even in the selfishness and the lust and the neediness of love.
That’s what the film said to me while I sat there, myopically, marvelling at the depth and range of emotions that could be suggested without any dialogue at all.
Afterwards we went for dinner in a Japanese restaurant.
Next to us an Indian boy was talking into his mobile phone. Across from him sat a bored looking Japanese woman, much older than him, I thought. She didn’t know where to look while he was on the phone. She was waiting for him to finish but he kept refuelling the conversation. Then he held the phone away from his ear and pointed at it, making a sour face. A woman’s voice was going on and on, nagging him. His sister, I supposed.
Eventually he hung up and he started talking to the Japanese woman. About himself. On and on. About his ambitions, his frustrations, his family. While obsessively stirring his miso soup.
“I don’t know if my parents are together or not,” he told her.
“What, you don’t know? You don’t know even if your mum is still living with your dad?”
“Well, the thing is,” he explained, “although they’re my parents, I like to give them their freedom.”
His father was an alcoholic and a good-for-nothing. “But I try not to discourage him,” he said. “I listen to his ideas and plans. I criticise them and tell him what’s wrong with them but I don’t like to take away his hope.”
“What about your mother?”
“My mother I haven’t spoken to in years. Not since she told me I was just like my father and I would never amount to anything.”
Lanying couldn’t hear what the Indian boy was saying.
“It’s like a conversation from Seinfeld,” I said, to explain why I was laughing.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have laughed. But afterwards I told Lanying the whole conversation and she laughed too.
I kept wanting to laugh at Coco in the cinema but I suppressed the urge. I was conscious of the seriousness of the woman next to me, who made the seats rock every time she sighed and twitched her leg.
“I laughed,” Lanying told me. “I laughed at Coco.”
That’s why we should always sit together in the cinema. Next time I’ll remember my glasses and we can sit together and laugh.