In Woody Allen’s opening monologue of Annie Hall he frantically “doesn’t” worry about his age. “I think I’m gonna get better as I get older, you know? I think I’m gonna be the-the balding virile type, you know, as opposed to the distinguished gray, for instance, you know? ‘Less I’m neither o’ those two. Unless I’m one o’ those guys with saliva dribbling out of his mouth who wanders into a cafeteria with a shopping bag screaming about socialism.”
I have always related to this line because I too think I will get better with age – maybe finally grow into the uncomfortably hairy body that was bestowed upon me. And though I don’t think that I will bald, I do assume the only thing stopping me from becoming the comfortably cynical wrinkle-bag is the possibility that I become the shopping bag holding crazy ranting about socialism. Halloween night had me dressed as Trotsky with my friends as Marx, Lenin, and Stalin and we were showing off our newly purchased facial hair at a lower Manhattan bar. I’ve found a new appreciation for Halloween after celebrating it in New York because with more people comes more costumes comes more silly things to witness. Whether it be Spiderman and a zombie arguing about whose turn it was to go down the vert ramp, or a woman with a knife through her head yelling at her kids in the back of her minivan to quiet down because she had a splitting headache, Halloween is a veritable grab bag of eavesdropping voyeurism.
Another strange event occurred in the form of two eighties aerobic instructors approaching a group of Marxists with the desire to dance. My true bewilderment coming from the fact that women were talking to me. After a quick explanation of our costumes, explaining that I was not Groucho Marx with a pickaxe in his head, I cracked a joke referencing my man under the mask beliefs in the tenants of socialism. The sideways ponytail and leg warmers responded with a scoff and a question of: “you’re not serious, are you?” I began attempting to regale her with my impressive, if limited, canon of speaking points that I had practiced in a mirror serving as Glenn Beck, yet I stopped myself. This was not the place, nor the time to force upon this nubile practicer of Halloween tradition my over spoken views of equality over freedom. So I feigned sleepiness and left to search for an F train.
The next day I was riding the C train over to the poorest part of Brooklyn to tutor a 5 year old how to draw letters and numbers and sit in her chair. Enter man with long beard and even longer windedness. He begins his tried and true speech about how the bible is true and the bible is socialist. He handed out pamphlets explaining that “To the rich God says, ‘Go and sell whatever you have and give it away to the poor people, and you will have treasure in Heaven, and come, follow me’ (Luke 18:22). But the rich, being atheists and blasphemers against the good Name of God that is called on the poor people, hearing about ‘treasure in Heaven’ only laugh in their hearts and reject the path of salvation that God has ordained for them.” And quoting “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24-25) I’m not sure who transcribed an exclamation point when translating the bible, but kudos to them. After a scuffle-stumble up and down the train car, the old man found his way out onto the subway platform and onto another train for yet another recitation of his monologue.
Woody Allen’s line about fears of become a raving lunatic is the last line he says before he introduces his female counterpart and title character, and thus the movie begins. I think that’s significant. Before he begins to tell this story he must first describe who he is in order to present context for which the audience can watch. This description of himself comes to a solid conclusion when he finally comes to his worries of ranting in public places because he realizes that once he’s fully rejected society’s attempts to include him as a part of it, he will no longer truly exist. “Tact” is a word I have described often as the “bane of my existence,” and yet I recognize that without the little semblance of tact I still have I would lose my ability to function in this society – and though I hate without reservation most of my surroundings, I want to have surroundings. Without others to bitch about, I will finally corrode into spewing the same monologue over and over to annoyed people attempting to hide their faces in books they don’t want to read. And I hate saying the same thing over and over again.