lovelife, meaning of life, screen

Misery is Wasted on the Miserable

it happens all the time

The comedian Louis CK‘s TV show, Louie, has been a boon through the break-up (like the doorstoppers from Knausgaard – but that’s another blog). Louie is a slightly grumpy single dad of a ripening age who doesn’t get enough sex – he doesn’t remind me of me at all.

Vela used to complain that I always picked films about whingey, schlubby guys with permafrowns on their face. She was exaggerating the condition, but had a point – Sideways, American Splendor, Synecdoche, New York, best of Woody Allen, George on Seinfeld, Curb your Enthusiasm…. Louie is yanked from the same twisted comic yarn. 

I actually started watching the show when me and Vela still lived together – although the breaking-up part had begun its long, winding course. It was during the bad times, when not only had we stopped sleeping together, we’d also stopped sleeping together. I was spending my nights in the lounge on the fold out, while she had the double bed to herself upstairs. 

It was a ‘luxury’ fold out, from Muji, that Vela said cost way too much. I bought it on the joint account, when it seemed like a long term residency in the lounge was what I was facing. Each night, I would lay the fold out down on the rug, bend over to the hitch the sheet over the bottom end, and mutter ‘this is the bad time’. 

regrets, I have a few

It’s a line from Goodfellas; what Henry Hill mutters ruefully when he thinks he’s about to be killed – by his friends! – as the high-rolling gangster lifestyle turns homicidal. ‘This is the bad time.’ The line often repeats in my head – it’s almost a comfort.

I’d lie back on the fold out in front of the TV and watch shows late into the evening. I scarfed a series of Louie in a couple of nights. I don’t think this is the best way of watching his shows, but I’m greedy. 

In series one, Louie is newly single and slowly facing up to what a profound change this represents for him: that he’s really alone again, and a single parent too. The mood is funny, but awkward, dark, and moving in places. 

Louie on the loo

I’m going through series four currently. I was telling a colleague. He asked if it was still funny and I replied, not really, that it’s more about personal development than gags. In truth the show has only ever made me laugh in bits. I think it’s the nature of the schlub-genre.

Louie and Pamela

The mid-section of season four concerns a doomed romance between Louie and a Hungarian woman visiting New York who doesn’t speak English. It’s an ambitious set-up that doesn’t completely work, with too much of Louie soliloquising. Louie is best as part of a dialogue: with his fellow comedians; Pamela the vamp; or lately the Socratic, meaning-of-it-all disquistions with a wise neighbour doctor. 

Like this one walking the dog. The Hungarian romance is over and Louie’s heartbroken:

Doctor: So, you, you took a chance on being happy, even though you knew that later on you would be sad?

Louie: Yeah.

Doctor: And now you’re sad.

Louie: Yeah.

Doctor: So, so what’s the problem? 

Louie:  I’m too sad… I liked the feeling of being in love with her, I liked it…  I didn’t think it was gonna be this bad.. Why even be happy, if it’s just gonna lead to this? It wasn’t… it wasn’t worth it.

Catch me on a bad day and this exactly how I feel about happiness: that maybe it’s just not worth it, if it’s going to end and leave you feeling miserable. 

And then there’s memory – unhappiness’s cruel sidekick – with all of its rewind horrors. I tell the Annoying Son be glad for the good times he’s had in the past. But I’m not sure I believe what I’m saying. Why be grateful for having pin-sharp memories of things that no longer exist? To be reminded of the fact that they’ve gone away? Great.

‘Doctor: Boy, misery is wasted on the miserable. 

Louie: What? 

Doctor: You know… you are a classic idiot. You think spending time with her, kissing her, having fun with her, you think that’s what it was all about? That was love? 

Louie: Yeah. 

Doctor: This is love, missing her… Sweet, sad love… You’re like a walking poem…  this is the good part.

Louie: I thought this was the bad part.

Doctor: No! The bad part is when you forget her.’

I beg to differ.



    February 5, 2015

    Try to look at it like this….(or don't). The very best moment is right BEFORE something awesome happens. This is your before. Enjoy it!

    Dude, you need a person. Who is your person? You need someone in your corner. Not to boost you or hold your hand daily or anything as co-dependent as that. But I mean someone that you just know is there to remind you of what you already know.

    Renlau Outil

    February 5, 2015

    Thanks for your comments. It is great to hear back.

    I like the idea of this being my BEFORE. I am working on enjoying it.

    I don't have that person you're talking about. Not quite. Bits and bobs, spread around, but not the whole thing. I need it. We all need that person. I have tended over the years through two big relationships to put all my eggs there. A mistake. That's part of the problem, why I have been feeling a bit empty, partly why I'm bit writing this. And just writing it, and the time it takes up – that helps.