Monday, March 8, 2010

The Power of All Things Make-Believe

I had a dream two nights ago about Johnny Depp. I was surprised – I never dream about movie stars. But there he was, in all His Deppness. Not the red carpet royalty and eccentric pirate we know now, but Johnny Depp the person – original, full of character, highly creative, the height of coolness. We were supposed to be hooking up for a sort of a date. Sort of.

Now I say “sort of” because my sense of who I was in this dream is vague: my age, state of physicality (which has varied greatly in my lifetime), my nature (I am multi-faceted) and even my societal status are not defined in any real way, so I don’t really know which “me” His Deppness is into. In any case, we are supposed to meet in this public place, where he is going to take me to meet some Very Cool people, and somehow, I manage to not make it in time. And being the Very Cool guy that he is, he leaves me this phone message extending me the benefit of the doubt, and telling me where they’re all going to be.

Except I don’t know how to find this place.

Well suffice it to say that I wake up in a state of utter frustration at (what seemed like) a missed opportunity. It’s funny how dreams work. Even after you come to and realize it was “just a dream”, you still can’t seem to shake the feeling, which was strong enough to wake you up – and you walk about your apartment or loft or wherever, telling yourself how silly you’re being and to just forget about it, but it’s already crawled under your skin. Part of you struggles to put it out of your mind; the other part keeps trying to grasp the fragments, make sense of it, translate it somehow to your real life.

My friend Amy Ferris has a thing for George Clooney – she even put him in the title of her book. Me, it’s Johnny Depp. Not so much in a sexual or romantic way, but in a creative longing sort of way. His extraordinary trust in the power of the imagination; his courting of all things odd or offbeat – both, I find deeply stimulating. In Benny & Joon, he climbs trees in a top hat, and makes french toast with an iron and an ironing board. I am drawn to, and delighted by, this kind of strangeness in others; people who are a little bit mad, but who always maintain a good measure of sanity when it’s called for. People who can balance living on the edge with finding their centre; who experiment with re-contextualizing stuff for fun, or to see how it challenges their perception of things. Those who see life in the so-called inanimate, or who flirt with mythical creatures in some way. People who question their own assumptions, test the boundaries of reality, indulge their idiosyncrasies or abandon the need to be socially acceptable.

Like performers. Or artists. Or menopausal women.


saraleh said...

Living on the edge and living in touch with the center ... what a beautiful combination. I've been blogging for a little over a year about women entering retirement; this is the first cohort of women who grew up with the benefits of feminism and many of us really did define ourselves through our careers as well as our families. And then we retire! Our experience - as women - is unique I think and there's so little support for finding our way. Glad to have found this connection and hope you'll visit me at

caroline_hagood said...

I loved this post. If they are all this clever and likable, I have a feeling that his Deppness was into any number of your "mes."

ND McCray said...

Since I was a kid I've always loved reading and writing, and watching the stars and listening to the music my parents loved; needless to say, my teenage years were socially ackward (in truth, some of my adult years too!). But I've always connected to those artists who are somehow cool without "really" knowing it. Johnny Depp is just one of countless others who make the "make believe" world a better place for rest of us to live in our own.

Jesse Mendes said...

Thank you, all of you, for taking the time to comment -- I am heartened.

Women should indeed visit -- a blog about "Feminist Women Retiring with Gusto".

Also, one of the most original blogs I have ever come across is -- specifically a post on "The Cult of Beauty" at Courtesy of @Caroline_Hagood on Twitter.

And "ND" thank you for taking me back to my teenage years....:--)


Anonymous said...

I do like the idea of the creative longing thing here.

When I get a bit of a crush on a male celebrity type, it's more a longing to be that person, rather than just admire them. I want to do the cool stuff, to act their roles and feel that no-one every quite knows who I am. I think this is the gender gap in action. As a woman, no matter what we think, we have to behave in certain ways, and get pigeon holed as such. Men just have so much more freedom. It's funny I had a dream last night about a man who's work I vaguely admire and he was there in the dream being forceful and charming. But as in your dream, something invariably intervened, the disaster struck and the connection that seemed possible wasn't made. Very odd.

I think these figures are almost like muses for women writers - which is why we find ourselves dreaming about them. But what is fascinating about dreams is that we do seem to build in the self denial, the restraint of not getting what we want because it would be too exciting/not right/not good for us really. When do dreams ever let us get what we want? You don't even get to eat. It's very odd.

Jesse Mendes said...

Hello (is it Harriet?)

Many thanks for your thoughts here. I resonate with much of what you have to say, and share much of your sentiments. Two things came to me as I read it, neither stream of thought logically connected to the points you made, but I felt moved to share them just the same.

The first is something educator Stephen Jenkinson told me: that "the absence of the thing you long for is your teacher."

The second is a quote I read once from Naomi Wolf:

"It is true what they say about women: women ARE insatiable....If they believed they could get away with it, they would ask for more love, more orgasms, more money, more commitment to children, more food, more care. The force of female desire would be so great that society would truly have to reckon with what women want, in bed and in the world."