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The Woody Allen of Neurotic First Dates

The Woody Allen of Neurotic First Dates


We could divide the world into two groups using plenty of dichotomies: There are the optimists and the pessimists, the alpha-types and the beta-types — and, I guess, the people who think that an early Woody Allen movie is an unparalleled cinematic experience, compared to those who just don't understand why anyone would want to watch a short, scrawny, funny-looking guy in big black glasses who thinks too much and talks too fast puttering around on the screen, voicing his unparalleled neuroses and schtupping inordinately beautiful women.

I'm in the former camp. Early Woody Allen is hard to beat, if you ask me. His movies often focus on characters who overcome their existential doubt by experiencing anew the beautiful things in life — like sex, movies, sex, humor, and, well, sex.

In a recent and very enjoyable essay for Slate, writer Juliet Lapidos talks about her affection for Woody Allen's movies, and in doing so, discusses a fantastic little moment of dark comedy. Here's Lapidos:

When an Allen character is in a particularly morose state of mind, he may feel moved to announce that life is meaningless. … Play It Again, Sam (1972), for instance, has a particularly lighthearted one. In this little-seen comedy, the recently divorced Allan Felix (Woody Allen) tries to get the hang of dating. Trouble is, he's romantically self-destructive: Felix (I'll use his surname to avoid confusion) says he's attracted to "emotionally disturbed women," and that's not an exaggeration. The depth of his perverse inclination becomes clear when he approaches a woman looking at a Jackson Pollock drip-painting, and asks what it means to her. She answers: "It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous, lonely, emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos." She's just the kind of woman Felix has been looking for, and he asks her what's she's doing Saturday night. "Committing suicide," she responds. Unfazed, he counters: "What about Friday night?"

Ah, Woody!

This begs the question: Can you please tell us about the craziest person you've ever encountered on a first date?

(Frankly, I think I've probably been the crazy on lots of first dates. But that's another topic for another day. Or, you know, the subtext of my entire blog.)

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