(First published in Le News edition 17, 6-12 March 2014)
The recent excitement about the Academy Awards has got me thinking – if our lives were movies, what genre would they be? It’d be really useful to know exactly what you’re starring in, right? Because you can make all sorts of decisions based on that. Should you investigate the strange noise in the basement (Adventure) or should you run the other way (Thriller)? Will your new neighbour come after you to win your heart (Romance) or come after you with a chainsaw (Slasher)? Should you carry on with French lessons (Mystery) or has Switzerland doffed its immigration cap at you (Weepie)?
As I sat in the lounge the other night, listening to the unearthly thumps and wails coming from upstairs – the usual sounds of my children falling asleep – I thought, maybe my genre is Supernatural Horror. Only last week the smaller child was shrieking, vomiting and levitating a metre off the floor. Of course, in her case it wasn’t a sign of demonic possession; it was a sign that she wanted to wear the pink tutu that I’d just put in the wash. And the gory little handprints that keep appearing on the walls are only jam, not blood. Although they’re so sticky that nothing short of Holy Water is ever going to get them off.
Perhaps, then, my genre is Adventure. See the Mommy Housewife stash her bullwhip in her handbag and venture into The Supermarket. Watch her carefully weighing the precious Golden Mango in one hand against the pile of Francs in the other, before braving the icy stare of the terrifying Manicured Checkout Lady …
Or maybe it’s Disaster. I like holidays and, in the movies, holidays always lead to disaster: cruise ships sink; aeroplanes are sucked into the Bermuda Triangle; people picnicking in the countryside are attacked by killer bees or giant mutant ants. But no one is ever shown coming home from two weeks away to find that they left a load of dirty plates in the dishwasher. Not disastrous enough for a big audience, I suppose, although goodness knows it nearly killed me.
‘Aha!’, I thought, as a small, angry face appeared at the lounge window. ‘It must be Science Fiction!’ But it wasn’t an alien. Just the cat, which someone had shut outside by mistake.
I’m not sure how to rate my movie, either. It’s mostly Family Viewing but does contain some Mature Themes (‘That bit where the mother tries to do yoga again after sitting at a computer for 10 years … ouch!’) and has Scenes that Some Viewers May Find Distressing (‘Did you see the part where the father collapses into bed and impales himself on a toy triceratops?’). There is also quite a lot of Strong Language and some Violence (when there aren’t enough cherry tomatoes to go around, the Guinea Pigs can get quite huffy with one another).
So I really don’t know what genre my life falls into. However often it makes me want to scream and run away, it isn’t Horror. It’s too small-scale to qualify for Adventure or Disaster. It’s definitely not Drama because nothing ever happens. Nor is it a RomCom because there’s precious little Rom and the Com isn’t that funny. And, despite the fact that a lot of it is boring and incomprehensible, it’s not well-composed enough to be Art.
I suppose, for now, I’ll just have to call it Reality.