So I selected a five-dollar movie from my Significant Other's cable movie menu and settled in for the evening, having no desire to be arrested for driving after four drinks or to be mangled by someone who's driving after twenty-seven. The movie was Bad Teacher, featuring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. It had nice pungent dialogue and Cameron wears a short skirt as well as anyone in the movie business. It reminded me of the similarly titled Bad Santa, another movie about a member of an occupation that is supposed to attract the morally upright (department store Santa, middle school teacher) who is an absolutely self-centered cheat and wastrel.
Fantasizing about cashing in on a Hollywood trend, I tried to imagine other careers where moral rectitude is demanded and a character with no morals whatsoever could attempt in a screenplay beginning with the word "Bad" to comic effect, but was frustrated that all my emerging seeds of genius (Bad Congressman, Bad Minister, Bad Archbishop of Boston) had already been played out in real life.
The only thing that bothered me about the movie was a tab in the corner of the screen that popped up when I paused it. "2001" the tab read. It didn't seem that I had failed to watch this movie for ten years. Of course, Cameron has been a movie star for some time, since "Something About Mary," which I know I'd seen more years ago than ten. Even Justin Timberlake has been a celebrity for years, long enough so that the teenage girls who used to throw underwear at him when he sang for 'N Sync are now raising teenage girls of their own, who are throwing their underwear at his successor in the field of teen heartthrobs who are named Justin, Justin Bieber.
It is one of the effects of aging, the study of which is eventually forced upon most of us, that the events of latter years seem to blend together while childhood events stand apart. The Vietnam War, the longest war in American history, was starting while I was still in kindergarten. Later, a friend in the lower grades had a copy of the "Ballad of the Green Berets" that I remember spending an afternoon listening to over and over with him, both dreaming of the day we would be old enough to fight in a war. After Johnson implied that he was not going to expand the war but did and Nixon promised to end the war but didn't, it turned out I was only a couple years short of being old enough to be drafted for that one.
The point is that war encompassed my whole childhood, passage through puberty and lasted until I was a legal adult. Like those years of my life, it seemed to last forever. On the other hand, the second longest war in American history, the current one in Afghanistan, has not seemed nearly so interminable, for various chronological, political and social reasons but also for me personally, since I was a middle-aged single father at its inception and will likely still be one for its scheduled end.
It seems like yesterday that Bill Clinton committed the impeachable offense of getting an oral sex act from Monica Lewinsky, although it was four Presidential elections and sixteen years ago. Google thinks it seems like yesterday, too; type in "monica" on the search bar and the first result that pops up is "monica lewinsky." Remember how much fun that scandal was? That's why it seems recent. I'm sure remembering that act of oral intercourse isn't that much fun for Bill, which probably makes it seem a lot longer ago for him. Especially if he hasn't had one since.
Another delusion I suffer from is that my musical tastes are current, when I can probably identify maybe four major pop stars who achieved fame after 1989. Knowing the complete musical canon of Flock of Seagulls hits is no longer a requirement for being hip. In my sober moments, I realize that.
So it just seemed sad to me, that apparently I had ignored "Bad Teacher" for ten years. I didn't feel melancholy for myself, really, but for Cameron and Justin. What had become of them? Was the skin on Cameron's fabulous legs turning to shoe leather, as a result of her baking them in a tanning bed to satisfy the cosmetic demands of her career? Was Justin losing his hair?
Just then my Significant Other, who was ignoring the movie in favor of mastering a thick novel, walked into the room. I pointed out the tab on the screen and said "Did you realize this movie is already ten years old?"
"It is not," she said. "It was out last year. Must be a keystroke error."
I looked it up, and she was right. I was immensely relieved. Nothing like getting ten years of your life back for New Years Eve.