I Saw The Sign

Well Hello There Modellian,

I hope that this finds you well. I know that it’s been a while, and I have no explanation for my absence. Yet instead of sitting here making excuses or recounting the last few months because I was probably with you for most of it— instead, I would like to tell you a story.

The other day, with a soft, doughy belly full of soft, doughy dumplings and other treats from our culinary field trip to Flushing (arguably the best and only reason to go to a mall), I found myself in an MSG and bubble tea-induced coma, sprawled sideways on my couch. Unable to sit up and not quite lying down, I looked more the Leaning Tower of Pisa or like an octogenarian convalescing at home after hip replacement surgery— I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to one position or the other.

I decided that now that I am 32 that I can stop pretending that I like football. I was raised by a father who definitely wanted a son, so I know about football more so than I probably need, and while he anxiously awaits grandchildren that will not come while simultaneously questioning my life choices and perhaps even my sexuality, I can finally admit that, at least on television, I don’t give a shit about football. Of course, there was that brief moment when I was obsessed with Michael Oher and the Baltimore Ravens, but that was more because The Blind Side was a great book by Michael Lewis, turned into an equally good movie starring Sandra Bullock, because it tugs at my social worky heartstrings, and because I love a good homeless-kid-turned-millionaire underdog story. I also irrationally love the color purple, and the guido in me has a thing for Joe Flacco.

Yet, those days are over. Michael Oher is now with Carolina, and Will Smith and I are far too concerned with CTE to really dedicate four hours of my life to a football game. There are Law and Order reruns to watch, after all. So on this very lazy Sunday evening, I decided to peruse Netflix and for all of the thousands of available choices of new movies and television shows available to me, I settled for a rom-com that I have seen dozens of times and happen to own my very own copy on DVD, which was conveniently sitting on a shelf right above the television. While I could have easily used this as an opportunity to finally watch Breaking Bad or maybe The Wire or even more Law and Order episodes, but no. That would be too good of a use of my time and would give me something new and exciting to talk about instead of my pop culture tastes which seem to have peaked in 2004.

The following is a treatise about why Serendipity is the perfect romantic comedy. This is a controversial stance, I know, but bear with me. It came out in October 2001 and is the perfect ode to New York. I think I even saw it twice in the movie theaters. I was 18 years old, the US had just bombed Afghanistan (literally this occurred on my 18th birthday), and there wasn’t much to do in our post-9/11 world, so we went to the movies a lot. They do not make rom-coms like they used to, and this was one of the last great ones (the others include Love Actually and maybe He’s Just Not That Into You even though that movie is just horrible). Like its predecessor You’ve Got Mail (which I have talked at length about on this blog and, like, every day in general) that shows all the great New York landmarks, Serendipity takes us on a tour of the West Village and the Upper East Side and Chelsea Piers and all those other places that I’ve maybe went to once when friends were visiting from out of town. It’s weird to think that they don’t make romcoms like they used to, and I frankly can’t understand why except for the fact that there are no superheroes in romcoms and people only ever want to see things with superheroes these days and it’s probably pretty boring to make a sequel out of a rom-com because after the meetcute just comes marriage and monotony and toddlers with shitty diapers, right?

Okay, you get it. I like romcoms. You’ve known me for years. What’s new?

Well, this is where it gets weird. I’ve been hanging out a lot with an ex-boyfriend lately— not in a porny way, but in a we-broke-up-five-years-ago-and-now-we-can-do-things-together-without-it-getting-weird-kind-of sort of way. The both best and worst thing about him is that he is super nostalgic, and this was great when we were dating and he would hide little notes in my pocket or keep a journal of his time while we were apart, but it can be a serious liability when we now get drunk and he starts reminiscing about what could have been and how I am still the only girl his parents still talk about. Again, we can only hang out kind of, and it’s usually better without the presence of alcohol.

If you’ve seen Serendipity, you know that it’s all about signs. If Kate and John are actually meant to be together, then the world ensure that that happens— by a name written on a five dollar bill or a phone number in an old copy of Love in the Time of Cholera or a black cashmere glove separated from its twin. (Side Note: Was Kate Beckinsale actually, really going to buy that pair of gloves for Aidan? They were totally lady gloves.) Well, after staying up way too late watching Serendipity, I was deeply satisfied, with a new resolve to find love. That is, until I get the following text from the ex: “I’m watching Serendipity. What’s happened to me?”

Now had this been five years ago, I would have thought that it was a sign. I would have clenched by black cashmere glove and a single tear would have rolled down by cheek. I’m a sucker for shit like this. We are, in fact, meant to be together. He is my person. Let’s get back together. I. Am. In. Love. I would have forgotten that neither of us were particularly happy for the many years that we were together, how I constantly felt disappointed, how he thought I was too hard on him and had unrealistic expectations, and how our lives were on completely different trajectories. I would have only remembered the good times— our first date at a bar that no longer exists, green chili burritos in New Mexico— and convinced myself that he was my own Cassiopeia-drawing, standing-outside-of-window-with-a-radio-over-his-head, mixtape-making John Cusack.

Of course, with age comes wisdom, and I know that this is not a sign. I am not in love. We probably stayed together for as long as we did because of our similar interests in pop culture, our tendency to revert to the familiar, and our inhuman ability to lie on a couch for a ridiculous amount of time. Yet we broke up because of the previously mentioned very fundamental problems in our relationship that could no longer be overlooked, not unlike Kate and Aidan or John and Natasha. So I wrote back “HOLY SHIT! ME TOO! THAT’S NANAS!” He then asked me why I end all my sentences in exclamation points and then sent of barrage of texts about what a creepy coincidence this was. It was a coincidence, but not so much creepy as nice. There was a reason that we dated so long, and I was happy that we were still friends sort of.

I wrote back a few quotes from the movie to keep it light and prevent Mr. Nostalgia from asking what could have been. Once he calmed down a bit, I put my phone on silent, stopped writing back, and went to bed. And yet, Serendipity keeps popping up everywhere, so much so that even Jeremy Piven would write me an obituary.

First off, I went ice skating at Wollman Rink yesterday. Anyone who has seen Serendipity knows that the movie— spoiler alert?!— basically starts and ends there. (Actually, it starts and ends at Bloomingdale’s but I like ice skating more than capitalism.) Speaking of capitalism, it’s a sign of our New New York that Wollman Rink is actually not even called Wollman Rink anymore; it’s called the Trump Rink. The Donald Effing Trump Rink. Because if that man loves anything it’s ruining a completely perfect New York institution by skyrocketing the price of admission— in cash, no less— and supplying ice skates in only half sizes. This latter issue is not a problem for me because I own my own skates, obviously, but it still makes me super angry to the point where I want to ram a toe pick into Donald’s eye.

Have I told you that I was a figure skater as a child? Is it because I have a secret love of tan stockings and scrunchies? Or because the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding scandal was the greatest of all sports scandals in history (aside from maybe OJ)? Or because deep down, I really just want to be a rich white girl from Connecticut, kind of like Kate in The Cutting Edge? Yet despite all my own racial insecurities, as an Asian American growing up in the 1990s, the only female role models out there that even vaguely looked like me were the figure skaters. Michelle, Kristi, and Midori were on the cover of Sports Illustrated, were featured heavily on Saturday afternoon sports programming, graced the covers of Seventeen Magazine, and were maybe even on a cereal box. And they looked awesome in sequins, to boot. So to them, I say thanks. Also this is the best.

Sorry, I’m off track. Let’s get back to Serendipity. So there are three songs that are featured prominently in the movie— Annie Lenox’s “Waiting in Vain” (when Kate gets engaged to Aidan and comes home to a houseful of rose petals and a ring that doesn’t even fit her— all I can think is, what a mess to clean up and what a waste of wrapping paper), St. Germain’s “Rose Rouge” (when they’re showing the hustle and bustle of Kate and John’s bicoastal lives), and Nick Drake’s “Northern Sky” (at the end, when they finally smooch, while at the Trump Rink). These are three super weird and random songs, and I have been fucking hearing them everywhere. I haven’t heard them in years, probably since the last time I watched the movie, and yet in the last few days, they’re on in the cab and on in the bar and like it’s not a sign right because I stopped believing in soulmates when I quit smoking pot and had significantly less time to wax philosophical about what does it all mean? I also am now unarguably in my mid-thirties and the concept of soulmates seems a bit a pathetic, particularly as I sit here alone with no pants contemplating eating a second dinner and googling if it is at all possible to purchase my very own nacho cheese dispenser. The answer is that while you can find anything of Amazon, there are a terrifying amount of calories in a 164 ounce bag of cheese.

And, lastly, I recently had a very serious conversation about the merits of hot chocolate and if the world needs more of it. I mean, we were going deep— debating types of chocolate to use, its perfect temperature, if it is an appropriate mixer for alcohol, and if there really is a market for a stand-alone hot chocolate shop. The debate continued until my very foreign and esoteric friend who initially was only observing from afar turned to me and said, “It’s like that place on the Upper East Side. What is it called? Serendipity?” Okay, maybe I brought this one on myself because there is only one place in New York that is famous for frozen hot chocolate, and it is indeed called Serendipity and is, of course, in the movie. I guess my point is that I cannot escape this freaking movie. As Molly Shannon says, “I feel it in the air.” And that’s okay with me because the movie is excellent.

So, Modellian, clearly my multi-month writing hiatus has not made me any more logical or sane or intellectual. Have you seen Serendipity ever or lately? What do you think about frozen hot chocolate? How about black cashmere gloves? Particularly for men? Doesn’t it seem like they might pill and attract fuzz? Do you still call the actors from Sex and the City by their characters’ names? Isn’t it weird that Aidan and Natasha are in a movie together? I mean, that’s crazy, right? Could you ever date someone who is professional New Age flute player? And someone who wears a lot of rings? Particularly, again, for men? If your friend bought you a last minute plane ticket to New York, would you assume that they were also paying for the hotel as well? Isn’t the Waldorf Astoria a little pricey for someone who is a therapist-in-training? Why doesn’t Kate Beckinsale ever button the lower buttons of her shirt? How did she not notice that she had taken Molly Shannon’s wallet, as even though this was shot pre-9/11, wouldn’t she have at least needed her ID to board the plane? Speaking of planes, is it really possible that John Cusack and Jeremy Piven flew from New York to San Francisco and back again, all between the hours of 8pm and noon the following day? Are we pretending that Molly Shannon is really only three years older than Natasha? What’s up with her chin? Have you ever actually read Love in the Time of Cholera all the way through? Do you think John feels at all bad for leaving Natasha at the altar because that’s kind of a dick move and a lot of work and money and emotions for everyone involved? What’s your stance on soulmates? And, like, general ineptitude? And finally, I guess I only have one more question: Do you have passion?

I miss us. In the parlance of another excellent Christmas romcom of yore, “To me, you are perfect.” Except when you don’t like my soup and make fun of me for showing up to a party wearing the same dress as another girl.

Hope to hear from you soon.


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