Josh. It occurs to me, as perhaps it has to you, that in order to be an expert reviewer of things, one must excel at separating the element under consideration from the circumstances under which it was considered. Which is to say that a good review is one that separates the object from the experience.
In this way, John Lahr, writing in the New Yorker, is able to recognize Liev Schreiber’s bravura performance in Cymbeline for what it is: nakedly emotional, a phrase that has nothing to do with the fact that Lahr received an “Off-Broadway Obie” from his 19 year-old P.A. in the back row during the third act.
Or, to put it in language a bit closer to your vernacular: when we used to drink Country Kwencher Boone’s Farm every Friday night down in your mom’s basement, the fact that your older brother kept calling me a dickbag for not agreeing to arm wrestle him in no way colored my ability to cherish the time you and I spent together.
The truly accurate review is the product of a culture of calipers and hairnets: delimit the stimuli and disregard outlier emotions. Equality in pursuit of objectivity. Every new experience approached as though it were a SaniTaco. I believe there is value in the cultivation of this ability, and I’m glad there are people who do it, but I don’t think I need to tell you I have no interest in living my life that way.
Josh, I’ve been really stressed and sad lately. I know you could tell from my last post, and the sob-choked messages I leave on your voicemail every night around 2 AM, which you do not return, but I know that’s just your way of helping me remain strong by teaching me to lower my expectations.
So the other night, after another long day of being stressed about work and the environment and the political and economic situations and the near-constant threat of zombie attack, we decided to skip our family’s normal evening routine, and threw everyone in the car for a trip to Sonic.
It was suddenly fall in the Midwest, and it was one of those evenings where the setting sun was so immense and red that you can’t help but realize that we are hurtling through space. We got to Sonic, pulled in and ordered, and the car hop waitron brought out our drinks. I of course got to do my thing where I taste one sip of whatever everyone else in the car has ordered, despite their objections. This is not hegemony; it is science. As I vowed to you when we first started this site, I am a bevpert first, a decent human being second.
Like I mentioned up above, I ordered the Peanut Butter Fudge shake. You know, as well as anyone, my thing about dairy, but careful application of sugar and dairy can greatly dull the pain of living. Penicillin is made of mold, and sometimes the things that are best for us are the things that are worst for us.
So I sat there in the car with my family at the Sonic in the cornfields, and we all had our drinks, and the sky grew dark and the neon lights blinked on. There were other families there, talking and laughing. We had the windows open, and there was a sense that this would be one of the last warm nights of the season. We watched the stars and planets coming out over the fields, and the trains hurtling past on their way to the cities.
And here is my review: everything about that evening was amazing, and just exactly what I needed from the universe that day. And I wished everyone I loved could experience this, in whatever way would hold the most meaning for them: this overwhelming appreciation for being in a certain place, at a perfect moment, with the people who are most important in your life. I hope this happens for you, if it hasn’t already. It was amazing. I can’t tell you. It was amazing.