by Anthony King
As I was watching Louis Malle's My Dinner With Andre (1981) for the first time I fought the urge to reach into my television, grab Andre Gregory by the lapels of his cardigan and repeatedly slam his pompous head into his terrine de poissons. At the same time I realized I missed having these sorts of conversations – one-sided as they sometimes were. More in a bit. First, what I've been watching.
As all good movies do, My Dinner with Andre got me thinking. Just recently my wife and I were talking about all the one-off couples dates we've been on. There's a common denominator here, and it's The Kings. Bobbie thinks it's because we're not good at small talk. I agree, I'm not very good at small talk. I am good at getting to know someone quickly, though. Within two days at my job I knew my manager's work history, musical tastes, how she and her husband got together, favorite movies, details about her kids, and past marriages. Renee and I became fast friends because of that. I'm proud of the way I can do that. I certainly have no ill intent in digging into someone's life like that. I'm genuinely interested, and I generally love most people. Because of COVID many of us fell out of touch with humanity. Some of us still haven't come back, and that's ok. Many people are finally comfortable admitting they don't like being around people, or spending time with many people. I, on the other hand, discovered I LOVE being around people. I LOVE talking to people. I LOVE trying to become someone's new best friend. Because before the pandemic I did NOT love any of those things. I lived my life, happily under a rock, with a very close, very small inner circle. Then the pandemic hit, my alcoholism got way out of control, and I had to reassess life.
The question, then, is how. How does one get into a deep and meaningful conversation with another person? While I was doing Cult Movies I had the chance to have a few of these types of conversations. The episode I did with Kevin Maher on It's a Wonderful Life (1946) is one that comes to mind. I think the episode Patrick and I did on Kicking and Screaming two weeks ago is another good example. A follow-up question might be: how do you enter into a deep and meaningful conversation without a leading topic? These are the silliest questions, I realize. I might as well be asking, “How do you be a real human person?” I think a lot of people don't know how to be real human people any more, though. And I think most of them want to be real human people who have real human conversations. Last year I posed a question on Twitter that was meant to be a joke. I'm paraphrasing myself, but it went something like: Would anyone be interested in getting together to discuss a movie but not record it sometime? The responses ranged from, “I don't understand,” to, “Yes, but why not just record it and make it a podcast?” Palm, meet forehead.