Recently I went to see Bottle Shock, a movie about the 1976 French wine competition that introduced California wine to the world’s palate. The film was humorous, but most importantly it had a happy ending.
I’ve been contemplating happy endings for some time now. Several nights before Bottle Shock, I sat down in front of my flat screen with Love Actually in the DVD player. Once again drawn to a happy ending – every time I watch this film I can’t help sitting with this goofy grin while Colin Firth proposes marriage to the Brazil girl in the crowded restaurant.
Confession time, I am a happy endings addict. I cannot get enough, the hokier and more improbable the happy ending the higher the rush. The onset of my addiction occurred early in life. Probably in the late sixties after watching Stella Stevens and Rosalind Russell make up at the end of Where Angels Go Trouble Follows (groovy man!). A warm glow overtakes me whenever I watch characters struggle with contrived conflicts that get happily resolved after ninety or so minutes. I am intoxicated by this warm glow; I stumble to the video store searching for my next hit.
Like any addict, I’m in denial. Back in December I walked away from a job after eleven years. I grew tired of being another color on the corporate Rubik’s cube that management turns and twists with little clue. Over worked and under paid. I thought at what point did my career evolve into my life – calls at four in the morning, twelve-hour days, and six-day workweeks. A paycheck in exchange for a life finally became a bad deal. Yet freedom comes at a cost. What to do next? How do I survive in the meantime? I suppose alcohol or drugs were an option, yet happy endings were what I grabbed a hold of. They helped me through those nights of, “Oh crap, what have I done.”
Happy endings sooth the uncertainty of reality for sure, but they also touch our humanity. Happy endings remind us of what hope feels like even when hope is the last thing our mind can see. While I’m not so far gone to think there will be a Hollywood-like happy ending for me, I hang to a hope that things will at least end happily for me. Until then I will continue to work towards my new goals (groovy), and when things go dark I’ll be back at the video store looking for my next happy ending fix. Because as Andy Dufresne, in The Shawshank Redemption, reminds all of us, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.”