There’s been a lot of talk about the movie Sliding Doors in these parts of late, mostly because the movie seemed to really speak to FJ, and last night, out to dinner with a friend from highschool, I was reminded of my own Sliding Doors moment.
Some time in year ten I was sitting in front of this girl Bec on the bus back from Horsham. We’d been on a German excursion, and had just recited some German poetry and learnt about Black Forest Cake. I was dating a different girl at the time, but I had just met this girl in Horsham, whom I would – unbeknownst to anyone at this point – go to visit and hook up with a week later. So I was feeling pretty good. Bec, however, was having another of the crises of confidence that regularly beset 15-year-old girls, and was talking about how ugly she was. Doing what I thought was the right thing, I told her that she was indeed far from ugly, and if she hadn’t had been dating my best friend Richie at the time, I would’ve considered making out with her. So much for doing the right thing. The next day at school Richie accused me of trying to kiss his girlfriend. This was, of course, utter shit, but he and I were never real friends again, which kinda sucked.
I told you that story so I could tell you another one. About three years later I was at another party, and was dancing around with a different Bec – for clarity, and because google means I shouldn’t use last names, let’s call her Bec #2. She too had been dating Richie – who, in hindsight, perhaps had a thing for Becs - but their relationship had been faltering, and I wasn’t sure of her status. So, remembering the debacle with Bec #1, I decided that I would make out with Bec #2’s friend Kate instead. It was okay. As I was leaving the party, though, I overheard Bec #2 yelling at Kate, telling her that she had stolen her man. I figured that this situation was pretty sweet – there was another party on the next night, and now there was no doubt as to Bec #2’s relationship status. For some reason, however, I arrived at that party quite late, and upon entry found her making out with this other guy. I’m still not sure why I was late, or what I was doing, but they have continued dating ever since, got married, and recently became the proud parents of twins. If it wasn’t for Bec #1, I tell you, those twins would’ve been mine. I would’ve stayed in Stawell, worked in the mine, played footy for the Warriors and spent the weekends drunk at The Gift hotel.
For me now, and probably for you reading it, that sounds like a totally lame time. But I bet that if I had taken that path, if I had’ve rocked up to that party at nine instead of eleven, I’d still be pretty happy with things. I’d still have a bunch of mates who I crack jokes with in the evenings. I’d still have people around who deliver hugs when they’re needed. I’d still read books and listen to music and have an intense hunger for stories, narratives, historical gossip. And, on a more pragmatic level, I’d still have a house, a job, a family. Some things might even be more exciting that they are for me now, though I can’t think of any off the top of my head. That’s where the movie kinda lies to us. That other life wouldn’t be better or worse. It’d just be different.