I have a confession to make today: I’m sad. Very, very sad.
I missed the Oscars last night.
I can’t even bring myself to listen to the radio today to find out who won or log on to You Tube to watch the various acceptance speeches. That will just drive home the fact that I missed them.
For me, this is one of the major downsides of living in London. Unless I want to stay up and watch the show live from 1-4 a.m., I am forced to skip it altogether. A few years ago, one of my husband’s colleagues took pity on me and acquired a bootleg copy of the show from a Finnish television program. I’m still not sure quite how she did this (some wonder of modern technology, no doubt). All I know is that a few days later I was sitting in my bedroom clutching a cup of tea as I fervidly watching the results pour in. At each commercial break, the network would cut to these three incredibly intense Finnish movie critics all speaking furiously about the nominees, of which all I understood was the word “hei hei” (good bye), thanks to an erstwhile Finnish roommate.
But no matter, I still loved seeing them.
Before I moved here I was an Oscars fiend. On the night in question, I literally locked myself into my bedroom for the entire four hour period, emerging only during commercial breaks to consume snacks and beverages that required three minutes or less to prepare. My husband was instructed not to let any phone calls through. I even gave up attending “Oscar Parties” because I couldn’t bear being the only person in a crowded living room whose eyes were glued to the screen.
I wrote an essay about this once for Chicago Public Radio (scroll down to bottom of the page and click on the very last entry to listen to it). The thrust of that piece was that I don’t love the Oscars for the fashion, or the red carpet or the cheesy musical numbers. I love them for that one brief second when the camera zooms in on the actors right after their clips are played and we get – for one instant – to watch them reconnect with their artistic alter egos. It’s as if, in that brief moment, we get to see the actors as artists – reflecting on their work – rather than as the pre-packaged media images we normally consume. And I actually…gulp…find this moving.
(Or, at least, I like to think that’s what’s going on. Maybe they’re just faking it.)
As we grow older, we begin to develop these bizarre affections for things in life that just…make it more fun…or offer us something to look forward to at the same time each year. For some, it’s the Super Bowl. For others, it’s Halloween. For me, it’s the Oscars. It’s like a little private treat that we give ourselves that also marks a tradition.
What can I say?