This past summer, I posted in this space a shorter-than-short story derived from one of my dreams, about an unlikely romance with a woman I literally could not see. A passage therefrom:

"I went to one of those soothsayer types. Fortune-telling. That sort of thing. And she said that there would be someone for me, but that he would not be able to see me."

"That could have just meant some blind guy," I said, and regretted it instantly.

"That's what I said. But no, she said, he would come to me, and he would not be able to see me, and that's how I would know it was him."

I shook my head. "And every other person on earth sees you normally, but you're invisible to me?"

"Looks that way," she said. "So to speak."

It didn't surprise me at all that I might have a dream like this; while I work diligently to push romantic thoughts out of my waking hours, they'll always find some way back, and invisibility as a component of fantasy has been part of my life for most of my life. (I attribute this to a girl in the projects who had me convinced, when I was about eight years old, that she could vanish at will. Certainly she'd mastered the art of concealment. I assume she drifted into ninjahood.)

Normally I am distrustful of assigning too much meaning to dreams, since I have some every night and they can't all have significance, but the fact that I remembered this one in detail, something that is true of maybe one dream in fifty, told me that I might want to pay attention to it. The conclusion I reached: "Am I being told here that if I'm actually to find True Love, I will have to give up something wholly unexpected? And if so, what might it be?"

Enter, stage right, or perhaps from left field, actor/writer/director Alex P. Baack, who in 2001 shot a motion picture that seems literally aimed right at my head. Untitled: A Love Story, released in 2003 and to my knowledge never screened in this part of the world, is the tale of a fellow (played by Baack) who embarks on a relationship with an invisible woman (voiced by Heather Aldridge). I have yet to see this film. However, the trailer and three clips are available in QuickTime on Baack's production-company site, and after watching these eight minutes of excerpts the film runs 80 minutes total I am convinced that quite unintentionally, Baack has made a movie that could just as easily have been about me.

The pertinent fact here is that the woman (she is never named), despite being invisible, is the normal person in this relationship; she has verve, she has joie de vivre, she has a life. The guy (also unnamed) is introverted, withdrawn, and just this side of paranoid. He's probably nothing like Baack himself, but he's a lot like I am, and it took only a few seconds for me to discover how well that persona actually fit. So when they break up, which doesn't appear in any of the clips but is indicated in a segment in the "making-of" compilation, it's a scene I find almost frightfully familiar despite not actually having gone through the process myself. (I tend to do a, pardon the expression, slow fade.)

It doesn't help that She Who Is Not To Be Seen is cheerfully matter-of-fact about her condition. There's a scene early on (the "First Date" clip) where he's given her a gift a copy of Camus' The Stranger, which to me seems perfect for a twentysomething New Yorker and she's dropped it into her purse, where it promptly disappears. He is taken aback, and she explains:

"Well, any clothes I put on, you can't see; when I take them off, you can see them, but when I put them on you can't. Follow? See, you saw me put the book in my bag. Now technically, a bag is not a piece of clothing, but, being a woman, I obsessively carry my bag everywhere and it is basically a part of me, so it's considered a piece of clothing, so you can't see it, therefore anything I put in my bag you can't see." [She reaches into the bag.] "See? Here's my lipstick, my driver's license, some Kleenex, all my shit. Follow?"

To be honest, she had me at "Well".

"Neat, huh?" she says, and something inside of me starts to scream. I want her. And I want her, knowing full well that if I had her, I'd lose her the way the guy in the movie loses her.

Alex P. Baack, you're a freaking genius, and not just because you brought home a full-length feature for four figures, either. I'm just paranoid enough to wonder if he knows me from somewhere. And I still have to figure out a way to see this entire film.

Update, later that same weekend: Mr. Baack to the rescue. I will own a copy of this film.

The Vent

  1 October 2005

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 Copyright © 2005 by Charles G. Hill