Now, dearest of readers, I found all of this quite astonishing, because the Shawshank debate is not new to me. Whatsoever. I just never realised that anybody else, in the whole entire world, would ever have a Shawshank debate. I thought it was unique to my tiny circle of friends.
So now for the story.
About 7/8 years ago (I am not very good with dates) my fabulous friend Sarah, and equally fab friend Dominic, had a disagreement. The disagreement soon escalated into what I soon understood to be an obsession. Sarah claimed that Shawshank was simply the worst movie ever made in the history of film. She liked to claim this by using Shawshank as a yardstick by which all other films she saw were measured. She might describe a film as being "so bad, it was even worse than Shawshank," or she might say "I love that movie as much as I detest Shawshank." Meanwhile, Dominic felt, passionately, that Shawshank was simply the best film ever made. He liked to relive certain scenes by describing them in detail. He knew much of the dialogue off by heart, and would recite it to Sarah as his eyes misted over with emotion.
It was not much fun to go to the movies with them.
And this lasted for at least a year or two.
Now, if this story is to proceed as it should, I am going to have to tell you something about my fab friend Sarah. Sarah was very special:
- She was an English lass who fell in love with all things Australian.
- She would take her 4-wheel drive into the back of beyond and sleep in her swag under the stars.
- Her swag had a plastic window where her head rested so she could see the stars.
- She always wore Blundstone boots.
- She had ginger-coloured hair.
- I always thought that she must have looked like Alison Lester's Rosie when she was young (Rosie is the one on the left wearing the cowboy hat).
- She loved my children as if they were her own.
- She comforted me the entire year I spent trying to toilet train my son, by insisting that many of the greatest philosophers suffered from incontinence (she had majored in philosophy so I took her word for it).
- She had a giant tattoo of a dragon over her mastectomy scar.
Ok, get over it, it was not one of those really tacky dragons, it was very beautiful and also a little frightening. She liked to shock the conservative doctors and boring nurses she had to see in that depressing box of a hospital.
Yeah, so Sarah was sick, but that really only intensified her hatred of Shawshank. She seemed to actually gain strength from seeing the pain she could inflict on poor Dom as he still, hoping against hope, begged her to admit that there was at least one scene she might have enjoyed. Arguing about Shawshank became their comfort zone, and, by default, mine.
It's now a little bit later. My son is finally toilet-trained, Sarah is quite a bit sicker (bugger), and she and I get into a habit of sitting together on the sofa late at night with some really good scotch. Sarah had been a very naughty teenager, while I had been a goody-two-shoes, so I really loved to hear her stories, and she really loved telling me at the end of each one - "you see, you didn't really miss out on much at all." Which wasn't true, but that's another story.
One night, after several scotches, she leaned towards me and said "hey, Eleanor, I'm gonna tell you a secret now." Ok. "But you have to promise not to tell Dom, because I'm saving it, to tell him on my deathbed." Ok.
She now leans so close to me that I can see each and every freckle on her milky skin, and I can feel her pale, ginger eyelashes fluttering against my cheek, and she whispers:
"I've never seen The Shawshank Redemption."