In appreciation of Steve Martin: "If women only knew that."

Published on 06/18/11 at 11:25:54 am using 845 words.

I’m halfway through a 30-Day Movie Challenge on facebook, posting each day a favorite movie from a different category/genre. All that great narrowing down that lets you rediscover titles you hadn’t thought of in some time. Steve Martin’s come up twice so far in my choices which… actually doesn’t surprise me in the least.

I love Steve Martin. Rather, I love the atypical Steve Martin. Steve Martin NOT right up (what’s believed to be) his alley. Steve Martin, NOT par for the course. Steve Martin in things that don’t necessarily accomodate his comedic persona. Things like Lawrence Kasdan’s Grand Canyon and David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner. Things that dare him to challenge himself.

Once you set aside the imperative to produce laughter, his intelligence emerges, taking center stage and that’s always been the bigger draw for me.

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Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

The Spanish Prisoner

The Spanish Prisoner

The Spanish Prisoner

Back in 2001, he went on Charlie Rose to promote his novella ‘Shopgirl.’

I remember reading Shopgirl while living in Los Angeles where the story is set. I remember waiting weeks to get my hands on an LAPL copy of it. I remember finding bits of myself and the thinking that unfolds in me, described to a tee once I did get my hands on it, only in the context of someone named Mirabelle.

Mirabelle’s body is not extravagant. it does not flirt, or call out, and that causes men to shop elsewhere. But, when viewed at the radius of a king-sized bed, or held in the hands, or manipulated for pleasure, it is a small spectacle of perfection.

What Mirabelle needs is some omniscient voice to illuminate and spotlight her, and to inform everyone that this one has value, this one over here, the one sitting in the bar by herself, and then to find her counterpart and bring him to her.

Mirabelle… this young woman who, like me, was either unable or unwilling to make things happen, to mold life into the shape she’d like it to have…

It never fails to strike a chord, recognizing yourself in fiction… in the words of someone who doesn’t know you. This finding of yourself outside yourself. Comforting and unsettling. More comforting than unsettling.

Little things contribute greatly to any existing appreciation I may have of any given thing or person. Five words spoken at Charlie Rose’s table fanned my flame of appreciation of Steve Martin, the writer, the person: “If women only knew that.”

Here, in its proper context:

CH: Tell me about Mirabelle as a character, what do you like about her? What makes her interesting?

SM: Well, in a way, she’s the antithesis of a real heroine because she is quiet, calm, you know, an interior life, uh… depressed, kind… kind to people, uh, not aggressive, she doesn’t push herself on people, she’s at the mercy of her friends, she’s, she’s… doesn’t… the story takes place in Los Angeles… she doesn’t know many people. Her beauty is of a special kind, so it’s not, you know one… (inaudible) Oh, my God. It’s a beauty men come to, after a while…

CH: …it grows on them

SM: …it grows on them. Exactly. If women only knew that. That it’s not the sensational beauty that is most effective. But it’s… When I was… some kind of analogy here, when I was starting, I thought, as a comedian, I thought, it’s ok if they hate me right now… because the most profound, you know, fan you can get is someone who hated you and then turns, they start to get it and I think that happens with beauty… it’s like, you can be like ’she’s not that beautiful’ and suddenly you know, days, weeks, months later you start to really see that person and they become so beautiful…

CH: …your level of appreciation just grows…

SM: Exactly. It’s not the kind of thing you can just dismiss all of a sudden, you know? Because… it’s like the difference between surface and depth.

CH: I get you. It’s amazing. They almost… they take on…. and just contact does this to you too, you’re around someone. And all of a sudden you realize you’re seeing them in a much more appreciative way.

SM: Absolutely…

CR: …a different way because they’re adding dimension, their presence, their intelligence adds to the face.

SM: Absolutely…

CR: …adds to what it is their presence and their physicality.

SM: I always think the sexiest way you can see a woman is when she’s working and not paying attention to anyone.

Whatever its original intention, that ‘if women only knew that’ registered as a tender, compassionate gesture. An unplanned show of caring, such an honorable bit of truth to impart. A bit of truth that may only take hold in people of a certain level of maturity, sensitivity and discernment but counts no matter what percentage of agreement it rounds up. It counts in a big way.

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