The following conversation might have occurred because, after four years of bicoastal living, I finally ran out of excuses not to get California license plates. So after two hours at the DMV and only one incorrect answer on my written test (if I’d gotten a perfect score, I was going to ask for a copy), I am officially a registered driver in California. For the first time ever. Which I had to do, because my New York registration was literally expired. Like, to death, bro. If I’d gotten pulled over, I could maybe have been arrested. So, license, registration, insurance. All of it. I will doubtlessly be offered a job in New York tomorrow or find out I have a baby living in Levittown or something and have to immediately leave SoCal. The latter scenario, I grant you, is highly unlikely.
I called my mom to tell her. I told her. Conversation turned to matters on the chillier coast. OR SO I THOUGHT. Because when you’re as self-obsessed as I am, we’re somehow ALWAYS talking about me. Except this time, it really wasn’t my fault.
(Oh, there are Shopgirl spoilers below, which is a tricky gambit in a movie where so little happens, but just in case you care, there are Shopgirl spoilers below.)
MOM: Herb and I saw Shopgirl.
DAN: Oh, we saw it a few weeks ago. I liked it.
MOM: Yeah. We didn’t so much like it.
DAN: Not so much, huh? I get it.
MOM: I thought it was really pretentious. I didn’t understand why…I just didn’t get it. No, I got it. I just didn’t care.
DAN: Totally. I mean, I liked it, but I totally get it. Do you have your one-sentence review ready?
MOM: What do you mean?
DAN: Sometimes, by accident, you perfectly capsulize an entire movie in one sentence and describe it better than any reviewer.
MOM: Oh, right.
DAN: Your first one, I believe, was the Robin Williams/Cuba Gooding Jr. vehicle What Dreams May Come. And can you explain why you saw that in the theater, please?
MOM: I don’t remember.
DAN: And do you remember your one-sentence review?
DAN: I believe it was, “If heaven is filled with that much acrylic paint, I don’t want to go there.”
MOM: I said that? That’s pretty good.
DAN: It’s awesome.
MOM: Why was the younger guy on tour with a band? Y’know, the guy? Who was…what was his name in the movie? Let me ask Herb. Hang on. Honey?
[Herb’s voice in the background. Mumbles, sounding like, “Bleeeeer.”]
MOM: Herb doesn’t remember.
DAN: I think it was Jeremy.
MOM: Right. Okay. Jeremy. Why was he on tour?
DAN: Dunno. I agree that was the one kind of soft spot in the writing. I didn’t understand why he was on his coast-to-coast vision quest. I thought maybe she would go to New York with Steve Martin and he would get to New York with the band and they would reunite there, but they didn’t meet until they were back in L.A., right?
MOM: I didn’t care about that whole subplot at all.
DAN: It was kind of a long way to go for a joke about books on tape.
MOM: Okay, and why did Steve Martin tell his therapist that he had told that pretty Claire Danes girl that he didn’t want to be in a committed relationship, when he didn’t really tell her that?
DAN: I think he thought he told her that, but since he was such a frozen emotional mess, he didn’t realize that he hadn’t communicated that to her.
[she repeats this theory to Herb]
HERB (in background): I think Daniel is giving the writing way too much credit.
MOM: Every time there was an aerial shot of Los Angeles, I almost started to cry. I just kept saying to Herb, “That’s the city that swallowed two of my children.”
DAN: That’s not really the movie’s fault, mom.
DAN: Whenever I see an aerial shot of freeways in L.A., I always think my car is down there somewhere. And there’s no reason it wouldn’t be, really. I drive to Eagle Rock, like, A LOT.
MOM: I just kept saying to Herb, “That’s the city that swallowed two of my children.”
DAN: And Adam really lives right in that area near her apartment. We’ve been to, like, every place in that movie. Except Steve Martin’s house. He never invites me over.
MOM: I did like when he paid off her student loans.
DAN: I told everyone I was with that I needed to immediately start sleeping with Steve Martin for the same results.
[Herb picks up.]
HERB: Are you still talking about the movie?
DAN: Indeed, we are. You didn’t like it either?
HERB: Weeeeeeeell…no. But I did recognize a lot of the streets from Adam’s neighborhood.
DAN: It’s very local.
MOM: That’s the city that swallowed two of my children. It’s…
DAN: Mom! MOM! I really heard you the first eleven times.
HERB: And on that pleasant note, I shall hang up.
DAN: How’s the house?