I enjoyed seeing “Fever Pitch” last Monday afternoon in an actual movie theatre, where the picture was considerably larger than the DVDs we normally watch on our TV and the sound system was much louder.
Apparently hearing aid manufacturers have an under-the-table agreement with Regal Theatres to ratchet the decibels up to dangerous levels instead of forthrightly buying pre-movie ads, because the four thousand or so previews we were forced to view before “Fever Pitch” started made me wish that I had brought along earplugs—which Laurel had, always-prepared woman that she is.
My visiting sister and brother-in-law were ensconced in a neighboring auditorium, desiring to see the Dirk Pitt thriller “Sahara” instead. When we compared notes afterward, the audiologically-concerned side of me was happy that my eardrums merely had to endure the sound of thousands of screaming Red Sox fans rather than countless thunderous desert explosions.
Movie theatres really should consider that when a patron spends $9 to stick fingers in his or her ears for a couple of hours, watching DVDs at home begins to seem a lot more appealing.
That gripe aside, Laurel also liked “Fever Pitch,” notwithstanding how many of the scenes are baseball-related. That’s because the relationship between Ben (Jimmy Fallon) and Lindsey (Drew Barrymore) is the heart of the movie. After they start going out, Ben’s devotion to the Red Sox initially seems innocent enough to Lindsey. But she only had been exposed to the Winter Guy.
When spring training begins, the full dimension of Ben’s Red Sox obsession becomes clear. The Summer Guy has revealed himself. And therein lies the universal appeal of the movie to couples like Laurel and me. Neither of us is a big fan of any sports team (in fact, I’m a Portland Trail Blazers anti-fan). However, each of us is devoted to activities that the other person looks upon somewhat quizzically with undevoted eyes.
Just as Lindsey couldn’t understand why it was so important for Ben to attend every Red Sox home game, Laurel struggles to empathize with my need to update my weblogs almost every day. Right now I am doing just that as nine o’clock rolls around and dinner is yet uneaten. I would rather write a post than eat. Ben would rather go to a baseball game than to a party with Lindsey. We are brothers in compulsive behavior, though one person’s “obsession” is another person’s “healthy normal activity.”
Most days I watch Laurel walk off down a trail, sprayer and pruning shears in hand, eager to tend to the trees she has planted and kill poison oak. She usually stays out until darkness drives her home. Her devotion to maintaining our ten acres equals my devotion to maintaining my two weblogs. Yet all too often Laurel and I focus more on what our marriage partner is doing instead of the why behind the what.
Sometimes Laurel will say, “You spend so much time in front of your computer.” “Yes, I do,” I’ll reply with a touch of irritation. “About as much time as you spend in front of your trees.” It seems perfectly natural to me to do what I love. The same is true for Laurel. So why can’t we as easily accept the love that each of us has for different things?
In “Fever Pitch” Ben passionately describes to Lindsey why he loves the Red Sox so much and enjoys being an ardent fan. She turns to him and says, “Ben, everything you’ve said about the Red Sox, I feel about you.” It’s a great line, and that single interchange speaks volumes about how men and women pursue hobbies, sports, and other interests within relationships.
By and large, when men are zeroed in on their passion, the relationship is out of mind. One thing at a time, that’s the male mind. When I’m writing, rarely do I think, “Maybe I should be upstairs eating dinner with Laurel.” I’ll finish working on my weblog, then I’ll turn my attention to my woman.
Ben was much worse than me in this regard because his Red Sox obsession was much stronger than my blogging compulsion. Still, I closely followed the twists and turns of his up-and-down relationship with Lindsey, finding quite a bit in common with him, wanting to better understand why Laurel sometimes must feel that I love my computer more than her.
I don’t. Yet after watching “Fever Pitch” it’s clearer to me why she might think this at times—including this moment, which is now 9:21 pm.
Another line I remember from the movie is a young student of Ben's (he's a teacher), wise beyond his years, saying something like, “Ben, I know that you love the Red Sox an awful lot. But consider this: have they ever loved you back?”
Hmmmmm. I’m heading up for dinner, right now. I can’t remember when my weblogs said, “Brian, I love you.” I do remember when Laurel said it.