I watched Secretary again. Have you seen it? I’ve only seen it a few times. Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. Spader was Edward Grey before there was a Christian Grey.
The first time I watched it I was in Oxford. As in England. TV in England isn’t like TV in the U.S. There are taxes, fees, annual renewals, and whatnot, so we had three channels in the Study Abroad House. All BBC channels.
It didn’t matter much. Most of our home time was spent around the kitchen table and two-liter bottles of Strongbow. One night we got put to bed like children. Professor In Charge was hosting a visiting professor and, as the gracious host, had taken the barely-a-closet spare room in the first floor hall. We kept him up.
It’s still funny, all these years later. We were doing what we always did. We listened to music. We told stories. We drank cider. Sometimes we cooked, and left it to clean up in the morning. But this night Professor In Charge wasn’t three floors away.
Five of us were mid-laugh. The throw your head back, cackle and snort kind of laugh that tests the limits of ab muscles and just never ends, and when it finally does you have no idea what you are laughing about, then you think and think until you remember and it starts all over again.
We didn’t get that far though. All of a sudden Professor In Charge appears in the kitchen door, his robe wrapped around pajamas, his hair all askew, his face gnarled with anger.
“Empty your cups and go to bed,” he said, and turned to return to his room.
We sat there.
He turned back. “Now.”
We did as we were told, and to this day, when we get together, this night remains the number one re-lived story. And we laugh that kind of laugh that just never ends.
It rained the next day. Most skipped the planned trip to Winchester. Three of us had no intention of being in the house when Professor In Charge returned from taking Visiting Professor to the train station. We went and were greeted with the sun breaking through the clouds.
To escape, the poor souls who dared bask in the sunlight of the bay window to read a chapter of Chaucer, they walked the neighborhood, for hours, and found a video store. Like actual video. Like VHS. There was a VCR at the house. Though we weren’t quite to smartphone-era, we laughed at the VCR – until we were reminded to be grateful there was a TV because taxes, fees, annual renewals, and whatnot, and the University was under no obligation to provide this amenity.
Movies were rented, and Secretary was selected for that evening. It was raining again. No one had gone to the store to buy the Strongbow for the night. No one had seen the movie. It was awesome and uncomfortable and we retreated to scholar-mode – we were in the Oxford program, afterall – and analyzed the storyline, the imagery, and the symbolism.
But, for whatever reason (because I love that movie), I didn’t watch it again for over a decade. It’s still watched only few and far between. It’s to be savored.