There are times when we don’t want to finish a book we’re reading, or a film we’re watching. Maybe the prose is so delicious that we want to savor it, like a fine meal. Maybe the characters – especially in an epic – have come to feel like family, and we don’t want our time with them to end. I bet we could all name books that we didn’t want to finish; stories so wonderful that we teased out each chapter, each scene, each page, to make the experience last.
But there are other reasons we don’t want to finish a story. This has been my experience the past week.
1) The film sucks harder than an F5 twister. It sucks so hard that it’s not watchable, not even in a so-bad-it’s-good way. Not even with friends shouting out alternate dialogue. Sigh.
I had this unfortunate experience last week watching Category 7 – a television disaster movie that should have been guaranteed to entertain. It had all the required elements: First of all, it was chosen by my daughter Kate, who has a nose for excellent bad disaster movies. Second, we were watching it with Snart, who can sling alternate dialogue with the best of them. The movie itself had wild special effects: extras fleeing a trailer park ahead of huge twisters; New York City being drowned by a giant storm surge. And it had the requisite awful stock characters: a politician (the vice president) who refuses to believe disaster is imminent; and the all-important maverick discredited scientist (a meteorologist!) whose crazy theories just might save the world. Unfortunately, it also featured scenes beyond the realm of the wildest possibility. E.g., paparazzi ambushing the sexy head of FEMA as she strolls with the sexy maverick meteorologist (to whom she has given the government’s entire disaster-relief budget), demanding to know if they’ve resumed their sexy college love affair. I mean… FEMA. Please. Then there’s the time warp: the cute investigative journalist – who’s being chased by the deranged televangelist – dials 911. Cut to the Brave But Doomed air force pilot saying goodbye to his grandson in San Antonio. Cut back to Cutie. She has dialed 9. Cut back to Brave But Doomed, flying his SR-71 Blackbird into the storm. Over Buffalo. Back to Cutie. She finally dials 11.
At this point, I think I fell asleep, or dropped into a coma. But several minutes later I heard Snart shout, “I can’t do this.” I opened one eye. Snart was on her feet. “Make it stop.” I squinted at the screen. The US was about to be destroyed. Maverick Meteorologist’s wife was at a power plant. “Hi, I’m Debbie. Who are you?” “I’m Joe. I work here.” “Are you in charge?” “No, that’s Stan. He works in the control room.” “Oh, good! The guy who runs the control room is just who I want! Can you take me to meet Stan? I need to turn off all the power in Washington, DC.”
At which point Snart charged at the screen and shut off the power herself. For all I know, the US was destroyed. But we couldn’t stand to find out.
The second reason I don’t want to finish a story is quite different:
2) The book is wonderful, and I adore the characters, and I can’t stand the idea of seeing them hurt. But the book is by Stephen King. So I have a bad, bad feeling that the folks in the book won’t all be standing at the end.
I’m in the middle of Duma Key, and right now I’ve set it down for a few days, because I want to hang onto the image of these fabulous characters – these wonderful people – enjoying their last moments of happiness.
Last year for Lent, I gave up snarking. This year, maybe I need to give up the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
Nah. I might as well give up breathing.