The “Waiting For Forever” Phenomenon

It wasn’t a particularly eventful day. I was randomly browsing through youtube when I stumbled across an interview with Rachel Bilson about her film ‘Waiting For Forever’. I’d clicked on the interview to see if Bilson was an interesting person outside of the character’s she played, she seemed okay, and the movie they described seemed interesting. A guy who had a crush on a girl when they were 10 keeps showing up in her life. The way the interview described it honestly it sounded like a comedy.

Quickly looking up the trailer I found it was more of a serious movie, but the trailer actually made it look really good.

You can watch that here.

See? Intriguing enough to get hold of the movie and watch it. I told my friend Emma about it, who also checked out the movie. A few nights later I put it on to watch and Emma did so at her place around the same time and we texted each other about it throughout. (a not uncommon occurrence)

The movie…. didn’t quite live up to the trailer. I was disappointed but I stuck with it. It seemed very slow, the main character was maybe a little too odd to be completely sympathetic towards, and despite Bilson’s claims of “No, he’s not a stalker” in the interview, the movie has a real hard time against fighting against the stereotype.

Some of the scenes between the main character, Willie, and Bilson’s character are awkward to the point of frustration.

If you can make it to last half hour (my friend Emma didn’t btw, she gave up about 45 minutes in, something which she claims she rarely does with a movie) things actually start happening to make it more interesting.

However still, upon finishing the film, and being disappointed it didn’t live up to expectations I remember shutting off the tv and going to bed thinking I’d never watch that movie again.

So can someone, ANYONE, explain to why since then I’ve voluntarily, on my own, watched the film no less than NINE TIMES?!?!

I haven’t even watched Source Code, Shawshank Redemption, 500 Days of Summer, or either of the new Star Trek movies NINE times and I actually LIKED those movies. (Mallrats and Princess Bride are other stories entirely…. I’m certain the amount of times I’ve seen each of those more than double ‘nine’ on their own.)

It started innocently enough, I was cooking dinner so I thought I’d randomly put on something, effectively as background noise, that I didn’t have to pay that much attention to because I’d seen it before. What drove me to choose Waiting For Forever is something I’m yet unable to explain.

Which would’ve been okay. A second attempt to see if I liked the movie better on a second ‘less invested’ watch. I would’ve understood that. I would’ve been OKAY with that.

Yet, a few nights later, I was eating dinner, and in a moment of indecision of what to watch while I ate… I put the movie on again.

Eventually I confessed to my friends, perplexed as to the words coming out of my mouth as they were, that  I’d watched a total of 7 times.

So why do I keep watching this?

Now, in my defense, on at least two occasions when I’ve popped the dvd in the dvd player I’ve hit skip and jumped to the point where there was only half hour left. And as I stated earlier, the last half hour is the more interesting part. (maybe I should do a fan edit which cuts down the first half? Like Topher Grace did with the Star Wars Prequels)

I can’t tell you why I’ve watched it so many times. It perplexes even me.

Is it because I find parallels to my own life? Unlucky in love but determined to never gave up hope in it? Tracking down a girl he had a crush on years ago. (hell, I wrote a book on that) Blindly pursuing a girl who everyone tells you have no chance with? (*cough* Abigail Beckett *cough*) Having a crush on a girl for years with no apparent logic or reason sustaining it? (*cough* Autumn *cough*)

WHY DO I WATCH THIS MOVIE?!?!

My friend Emma was just as perplexed as I was.

EMMA: I’ve stuck through a lot of bad movies. It’s rare I give up halfway through.
LIAM: But the last half hour is the best part.
*moment of realisation*
LIAM: Dear god I’m defending it now.

I’ve watched the trailer a bunch of times as well.
I can UNDERSTAND watching the trailer of bunch of times.
The trailer portrays a movie which seems far superior to the finished product.
I evem have the soundtrack on my phone.

I guess there’s something perplexingly attaching about the movie. Not 12 Monkeys/Memento/Primer perplexing. Not ‘I need to watch this a million times so I can catch every small part I missed’.

More ‘I need to keep watching to find out why I keep watching’ I guess.

It’s crazy. It’s insane. It makes no sense.

And yet as I finish this blogpost, I have it playing it again in the background.

Nine Times?!?!?

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The Prawns and the Stolen DVD

The following is a true story. I believe we can all agree all theories postulated have now been proven true. (Including Tam’s one about my room.)
Our story begins a long time ago (about ten years) in a suburb called Latham….

2005….

Liam: Video Ezy keep calling about ‘An Extremely Goofy Movie’
Josh: We hired it but my dvd player died. I watched the end of it at yours remember?
Liam:  Yeah, but it’s not in the dvd player. I have the cover. Where’s the dvd?

A few months later….

Liam: Video Ezy are still calling. No idea where the dvd is. It’ll turn up when I move, you’ll see we’ll clean out the entire room find the dvd sitting there.

Two weeks later….

Liam: Okay, so it’s not here.
Josh: Where the hell is it then?
Liam: I don’t know! The only thing left in the room is those battered prawn tails we found under my bed.
Josh: Did you accidentally throw it out?
Liam: Well I think the clear logical conclusion here is… the prawns stole the dvd.
Josh: That’s not possible.
Liam: Sure it is! We have evidence RIGHT THERE!

(points at the battered prawn tails)

Josh: That does not make ANY SENSE!
Liam: Sure it does. Clearly there is some sort of space-time shortcut to my room that the prawns took advantage of by stealing the dvd.
Josh: PRAWNS DON’T HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS! How would they carry it?!
Liam: I’m certain if a whole bunch of prawns worked together they could totally steal a dvd. Strength in numbers in all that.
Josh: That’s not possible. There’s no way even a group of prawns could carry a dvd. Not without opposable thumbs.

2007….

Liam tries to hire a dvd at the same Video Ezy he hired the original dvd (that was almost definitely stolen by prawns) from years earlier.

Video Store Clerk: Uh…. According to our system you have an overdue copy of An Extremely Goofy Movie… with an overdue fee of $587…. That’s still increasing. Because you haven’t returned it.
Liam: You know, on second thoughts, I don’t NEED to hire a dvd today.

Liam quietly leaves the store and recounts the story to his housemate, Tamara.

Tamara does not believe the HIGHLY LOGICAL CONCLUSION that prawns stole the dvd from his bedroom, but is concerned at the fact that at one time it was possible for battered prawn tails to be under his bed without his knowledge. She postulates her own theory that this confirms her boyfriend’s assertions that the smell coming from his room is bad.

Liam adamantly denies her theory and spend the next three days cleaning everything in his room.

2011ish….

Video Ezy closes down. It is believed Liam’s unpaid overdue fee was unrelated.

2015…

Present day.

Further evidence to my theory that those bastard prawns stole my dvd comes to light when I find THIS under my desk at work.

Submitted for evidence is the text conversation between Josh and I.
Screenshot_2015-07-10-18-56-31Screenshot_2015-07-10-18-56-52

I rest my case.

Here’s To You Abigail Beckett

Yesterday, when I typed the date, I realised today (the 15th April) would be the birthday of a girl I had a crush on many years ago. The only reason that I remember this, that I repeatedly argued in the following 24 hours, was that it was my password for many years. Including years long after I’d gotten over because I was too lazy to change them.

Facts of that last paragraph may be called into question in about three paragraphs time, but we’ll get to that.

Now to give you a brief recap of this girl, you can read my book, or you jump back a few blog posts where I go into things in detail, but basically it sums up like this:
1. I worked with her in my first job out of school.
2. She was nine years older than me. (yes, I can hear my housemate Craig saying repeatedly “NINE YEARS OLDER?!? NINE? NINE?!”
3. I, in retrospect maybe unjustifiably, lived in fear of losing my job if I said something so I never did until after I left three years later.
4. The feelings were not reciprocated.
5. When I, years later, contacted about my book she did not react well. (Where the pseudonym Abigail Beckett was born)
6. Despite all that, seven years after my last interaction with her I sent her an invite to my 30th.
7. Despite my humorous blindly optimistic proclamations to my friends, family members, and co-workers, she unsurprisingly did not show.
On and finally:
8. Today was her 40th birthday.

(She’ll kill me if ever finds out I put her age online. Then again she’ll have other reasons to as well so let’s just add it to the list.)

Quite possible because I’d consciously acknowledged that her birthday was today last night my subconscious decided to be a dick about things and present me with this dream:

I was getting home from work, walking up the stairs to my second story apartment when I found her waiting outside the door. I froze.
“Did…. hell just freeze over and nobody told me?”
She laughed.
“I know… after everything this is probably a bad idea… but I was just thinking about you, and it’s my birthday, and I found your website online annnnd….”
Cautiously I step forward, without saying a word, and we kiss.

That was pretty much it. I then woke up on the couch that I’d fallen asleep on the night before, switched off the alarm on my phone, and stood surveying my flat. I had let things slip in that whole ‘cleaning’ area in the last couple of weeks.

I’d just have to clean it up after work.

And that’s when it happened, that little voice in the back of my head.

“I know… after everything this is probably a bad idea… but I was just thinking about you, and it’s my birthday, and I found your website online annnnd….”

No. No. No. No. No. I was not justifying that dream with a response. I could list a dozen reasons why that dream would never happen. Some of those reasons had evidence that happened less than a year ago.

It was completely illogical to justify any sort of reasoning from triggering of neurons and synapses that happened in those brief five hours of sleep I’d had the night before.

It would be stupid to waste time cleaning the flat, when I could be doing I’d enjoy more, like running. Or sit ups. Or breakfast. Or using the cross trainer. Or hell, I could get into work massively early. Clock up some flex.

These are all highly logical things I COULD be doing, I told myself, argued myself, muttered to myself, while I cleaned the flat in the molecule of chance that dream was maybe a timeslip, a premonition, a glimpse into the future. (No, I don’t think any of those things are possible. At least, I don’t think I do.)

As I left for work I surveyed my now much cleaner apartment.

I solemnly decided not to tell anyone this had ever happened.

And I had I not thought about it for a moment, or a second, or even an hour. Had I not thought about it until 8 hours later when I was climbing the stairs just I had in the dream and then remembered what I’d dreamed last night IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE.

But alas, this is Liam Smith we’re talking about.

And my low latent inhibited brain and far too vivid imagination spent the day re-enacting the dream in my head. Each time was followed by a solid hour or two of conversation about how it was insane. Nuts. We had officially crossed the line into crazy. My old housemate was right: I would die alone.

I want to be clear, the voice of reasons here were valid. For every ‘but what if it does happen’ there were fifty reasons why in this, all other versions of reality, it wouldn’t.

But I’m sure as many of my friends and family will tell you: I’m not in the habit of listening to logic and reason. (Seriously, I just did a challenge that involved me doing 300 situps a day for 20 days.)

So after a full day of telling myself I was nuts, I left work, got home, climbed the stairs to my apartment, arriving at my completely unoccupied doorway and going inside only to find my clean apartment mockingly reminding me of the insanity it had insisted upon eight hours earlier.

Here’s to you Abigail Beckett.

I hope wherever you are you’re happy, hell I hope you’re in a happy loving relationship and that you had an awesome birthday.

As for me, I’m going to do what I should’ve done at 7am this morning, and go for a run.

When I was a kid my favourite toy was a spoon.

I’m not crazy. I want that on the record now.

I say this because I’m about to tell you something from my past that will probably make me sound it, and that to this point only family and close friends of the family know. Including, out of the handful of people that will read this, people that have known me since I was ten years old.

Eccentric – definitely. That’s how an old housemate once described me. I also freely admit that I talk to myself and figments of my imagination more than the average person, but I’m not crazy.

I asked a psychiatrist about it once, and she quoted the tv show ‘Lost’ to me.

“Crazy people don’t think they’re going crazy, crazy people think they’re getting saner.”

Though I agree that, yes, paradoxically this contradicts my original argument, but at the time I thought I was genuinely going nuts so I think the statement holds.

That’s a story for another time however, and one that I’m not necessarily sure I want in a public medium unless it’s in a book I’ve written that I’m actually getting paid for.

When I was a kid, my favourite toy was a spoon. At some point or another, it changed to a pencil/pen, but for a length period of my childhood it was a spoon.

To me, the spoon was a link to my imagination. Part of this will be hard to describe, but I’ll do my best. I have a vivid imagination. I can enter and fully immerse myself in a world completely created out of my head. I can see it completely play out like a movie. The spoon was simply my way of entering that imagined world.

To an outsider, and a perfectly normal human being, all they saw was a kid moving around the house, or on the front lawn (at the drain beside the house I grew up in generally) moving all around talking to himself, playing out the movie in my head. The epic spanning stories involving my friends at the time battling dragons, battling sentient viruses, winning over the hearts of a girl I had a crush on at the time (my superhero persona, Weird Boy, was created doing this). Some of the stories were simple: climbing a tree that grew as you climbed it, getting a puppy and hiding it in a secret underground chamber under my house. (Most of this was pre-Lentil, Lentil being the dog I got when I was 12) Others were vast complex stories involving a multitude of fictional characters who’s lives and eventual fates I could still tell you to this day.

There was me imagining many stories where me and my friends Jesse Maher, Rachael Simpson, Phoebe Juskevics would be transported to another world where we were the heroes of a small kingdom that fought evil kings, dragons and trolls. When we left the world our bodies there turned to statues until we returned. The magic word to pass to that world? “Seriously deep doo doo.” (hey, I was EIGHT!)

Stories of Me and my friends Steven Hammond and Kirsty Watson and a boyfriend I invented for Kirsty named Daniel Capalony (echoes of Shayne from the future maybe?) hanging at KC’s Virtual Reality Cafe, which actually existed at the time (epic old school canberra reference.) battling villains who’d made it from the virtual reality world into ours.

And yes, when I was 12 I started imagining stories of me as a superhero, Weird Boy, who’s best friends were Pete Dexter and Steven Hammond, and who’s girlfriend was…. someone I’m totally not naming in this blog. But in my book I called her Paige.

And these were just the handful of ones I’m mentioning here. I could spend years telling you about the stories I imagined myself living while dancing around at the drain at the side of my house.

Some people knew. Certainly all of my neighbours. I was that weird kid that danced around the side of his house moving a pencil around in his hands, talking to himself and having vast conversations and acting out elaborate plots with figments of my imagination.

Eventually, at an age far older than you would expect, I stopped doing it because people at school were learning about it and with high school on the horizon the bullies would have more than enough to reason to beat me up already.

The imagination never went away though. If I had a pen in my hand I still had the ability to disappear into that world. Even without the pen. As I matured I realised the whole pen thing was… not normal. Though I guess I always knew but didn’t care because I had fun, it was part of me.

As a teenager and still as an adult my imagination is running and rarely shuts off. Unless completely focusing on a task it is quite easy for my mind to slip into an imagined world. I imagine long conversations with characters I’ve created, some of whom are based on actual people. In fact, I know of at least four people who would be gobsmacked at the hours of conversation I’ve had with an imagined versions of them in my head. There’s a solid chance two of them will even read this. So for that reason alone, I will keep their names a secret. (Though, there’s a solid chance Sare, Cat, Alyce, Stu & Emma would each be able to place one of them… though even if you combined your efforts you’d never figure out one of the unknowns)

I want to be clear on one thing, and this is why I’m not crazy:

I am fully aware on the difference between my imagination and reality. And it’s not like I’m ever disappointed when a person doesn’t react like the imagined version of them in my head – hell, I expect them not to. And I don’t prefer the imagined versions. They’re generally far too sarcastic (they’re products of my imagination remember? I’m essentially having long smart arse responses thrown at me). It’s my coping mechanism. My process of thinking.

If I start having long imagined conversations with an imagined version of girl I fancy, I generally try to put a stop to it (an end to that nasty ‘pedestalling’ that totally destroys any chance you have with a girl).

Describing it as a ‘coping mechanism’ earlier is actually a fairly accurate description of it sometimes. Because there’s one person my brain almost subconsciously conjures up to talk to when I’m conflicted about something.

Which oddly leads me to recently, when I actually tried to not imagine a conversation in my head because I’d realised I was doing it a lot more now I lived alone, and it probably wasn’t normal.

Then life got really difficult, due to changes in my work life I’ve already spoken at length about but I’m not going to return to it now. It was during that time I realised I was trying so hard to not use my standard my coping mechanism. I remember stewing in a world of self hate one Saturday when I was driving to a wedding I was about to perform (more detail on this way back in the one I wrote about my redundancy. Go read it here.) and eventually I thought to myself “Out of all the life changes that are happening my life right now… it would be a lot easier to take if I kept using the coping mechanism that helped me survive this long.”

And so I returned to imagining conversations in my head.

My imagination is one thing that has always been apart of me. Stomping on it and trying not to use it just seems unwise.

Because if I wasn’t my true eccentric, slightly weird self, I don’t think I – and any of my friends and family – would really like I’d be. Because I wouldn’t be me. And being me is something I’m totally cool with. Even if it isn’t normal.

But to quote a favourite scene from an old tv show:

“What’s so great about normal?”
-Max Evans, Roswell, Episode 1.15 “Blind Date”