by Lisa Gorsuch
Maybe no one has mentioned this, but when you reach your 40s, you gain superpowers. You become invisible to asshole hipster dudes in their 20s. You can lay waste to a full field of fucks with a mere roll of your eyeballs. You can incinerate white supremacist trolls with the smallest of your hot flashes. It's all pretty great.
But there's one thing that even the most amazing middle-aged badass can't do: Smack some sense into her younger self.
I often find myself attempting to reach back in time to give myself a good shake. "Seriously," I want to ask her, "WHAT THE EVER-LOVING FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?"
Some of Younger Me's decisions are more entertaining than painful, though — such as the Target bag full of Duran Duran mix tapes hiding under my desk. I enjoy playing YouTube '80s playlists on full volume while I work. The screams of my children simply make me chuckle. Who says you can't have fun after 40?
Movies are another hilarious time-traveling adventure. Despite my attempts to make their ears bleed, my two teenagers are pretty good sports and are usually willing to watch "old" movies with me. This has led to family bonding over films that Younger Me, who was apparently the most naïve white girl on the planet, had no idea were problematic.
Me: Let's watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s! You'll LOVE it! It's a classic!
My kids, 10 minutes in: Uh, Mom? This movie is racist. Like... super, SUPER racist. And sexist.
Me: Hooooly crap.
My youthful lack of insight was on my mind when our local indie cinema announced a showing of the classic rom-com Moonstruck — one of my all-time favorites. I first saw the film in college, with my friend Lisa N., the child of French-Italian parents. She laughed hysterically (maybe a little too hysterically) through all the parts with yelling — so basically through the whole thing. I was the only child of a kind but repressed mother and an emotionally abusive stepfather. I dreamed of finding love and having a jillion kids and a lot of expressive in-laws.
Younger Me friggin' loved that movie.
I hadn't seen it in years, not since my kids were little. I immediately roped my BFF and 13-year-old daughter into buying tickets. Would it be as good as I remembered, or would this be yet another "WTF, Younger Me" moment?
The good news: Overall, the movie held up pretty well. Maybe some of the jokes were over the top, but the film still glows with good-heartedness and the kind of oddball hilarity that adds a lovely patina to my own crazy family life. And I will never not love Olympia Dukakis' Rose Castorini.
This time around I found myself identifying more with Rose than I did with Loretta, the main character played by Cher. (I was too young to get Loretta the first time around; I'm a bit too jaded to get her now.) Rose will cut you with the sharp remains of her very last fuck. I aspire to her level of disdain.
But. Although I'm still glad that Loretta dumped that big man-baby Johnny Cammareri, bought those killer red shoes, and discovered her love for Puccini, we gotta talk about Ronny Cammareri. Not unlike a certain sparkly vampire naughty billionaire every supposedly romantic ideal everywhere, Ronny is a totally unstable psychopath. The only time he's anything approaching normal is in the final kitchen scene. That guy I could almost begin to like — if he didn't pull a marriage proposal out of his ass after literally ONE WEEK of stalkery pseudo-dating. Seriously, Younger Me, how did you ever find that romantic?
Even after a $4 mimosa and a hearty helping of nostalgia, I can no longer give Ronny's behavior a pass. Granted, Younger Me, you hadn't had a lot of dating experience, but come on. Even you should know that a happy long-term relationship rarely begins with table flipping and hate sex.
Question, Younger Me: Does Cher have no friends in this movie? I mean, I still love you, Moonstruck, but a Bechdel test success story you are not. When my husband left me, I got ill-advised tanning that my sun-damaged décolletage and I are cursing to this day — and that was the best of my emotionally-based bad decisions. Thank God I had friends to bring me vodka and talk some sense into me. I can just imagine the conversation if Loretta had some decent friends:
Loretta: I met the greatest guy. He screamed at me, threatened to kill himself, and then flipped a table before sexing me.
Loretta's friends: What. The actual. Fuck.
Loretta: The only way I got him to promise not to stalk me or tell my fiancé about the sexing was to go out with him again. But it's to the opera so I'm pretty sure that makes it OK, right?
Loretta's friends: ...
Loretta: And then when I said I wanted to go home, he took me to his place instead and explained how absolutely wrong I am about EVERYTHING and how I don't even know my own HEART or how to LOVE. I think I'll marry him.
Loretta's friends: Are you on drugs? Are you seriously on drugs right now?
Once again, I found myself siding with Rose. WTF, Loretta? WTF, Younger Me?
Overall rating: It's no Breakfast at Tiffany’s, thank god, but I'm disturbed by the messed up image of "romance" that Moonstruck put into your head, Younger Me. Let's grab another mimosa and have a little come-to-Jesus.
Lisa Gorsuch is a freelance writer and editor who is also the world's foremost authority on avoiding housework. She lives in Colorado, where her natural enemies include voles and the middle-school kiss-and-go lane.