40-Odd Days of Ilsa: Lent in Casablanca, Night 33

In Casablanca, Ilsa is beautiful, no doubt about it.  She has a great heart, and a fierce loyalty to love. Her head believes she’s in love with her husband. Her heart is with Rick. Either way, she’s angelic, radiant.

And I’m amazed how little I’m attracted to her.

Zooey Deschanel, on the other hand…

I slept in Sunday. I’d planned to head to work at 5 to pick up an assload of OT, but I was having too much fun sleeping. I woke up around sunset, and checked-in with my interweb friends.

My friend, Kelly, tweeted that somebody who loves her should buy her “A subscription to Mental Floss or a copy of (500) Days of Summer.”

I’m a fan of Mental Floss, but I’d never seen (500) Days of Summer. I’d just never felt compelled to.

Anyway, off to work. I stopped at the 7-Eleven to purchase caffeinated beverages. There was a line at the counter, so I turned down the first aisle, back toward the coolers. There on my left was this:


Are you kidding me, Universe? Really??

You betcha, I picked it up. That, a cube of Red Bull (sugar free), and a liter of Diet Mountain Dew, and I was set. I texted Kelly the creepy coincidence, and told her I’d watch the dvd then mail it to her.  Her response cracked me up: “Before or after Casablanca?”

Before. Definitely before.

Many moons ago, I bought a brand new Fender Stratocaster American Standard, with a maple fingerboard, and this unusual, gorgeous metallic blue finish.

I named it Zooey; the blue matched Zooey Deschanel’s eyes. It was love at first sight for me.

But it wasn’t to be. I also had this beat-up Epiphone SG (Annie (from mahogANY)) that just fit my hands better and made sweeter music under my touch.

No diss on Zooey D, though. Her character, Summer, was quirky. She told Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character right up front: she didn’t want to be anybody’s girlfriend. She liked being on her own.

His character was smitten. He was thinking soulmate, true love forever, all the pop song greeting card images.

He was thinking of an Ilsa.

An old friend of mine married the same woman four times, at least they were on #4 when he and I lost touch. After divorce #3, he and I were out drinking. About two drinks past midnight, I finally asked him: “Why do you keep going back? It’s always the same damned thing: arguing and fighting and craziness.” He drained the last of his Manhattan and gestured for a refill.

“Tom,” he said. “She’s my Zelda.  Just that: she’s my demented Southern Belle, my crazy, inevitable Zelda.”


Laszlo’s tall and brave, handsome, heroic, and a pretty good singer.  Rick is shorter, a man hiding from the world. On paper, Victor Laszlo is Ilsa’s perfect choice.

And she loves Rick anyway. And he loves her. Their passion sizzles, and yet she gets on the plane with Laszlo.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Casablanca features the song “As Time Goes By.” Rick and Ilsa are perfect “whos,” and their “whats” are compatible.  Their “wheres” have brought them back together, but their “whens” don’t match.

I think about that regarding my own relationships: I’ve never hit that quadrufecta. Maybe I never will. Maybe those four tumblers are clicking now, but I haven’t noticed yet.

Either way, I’m good.

(500) Days of Summer showed me something about how I’ve dealt with relationships. Love never seems to be about swelling orchestral scores and soft focus champagne toasts, but about stolen kisses in the copy room while an indie-pop song plays.

I had to shake my head and smile a lot in (500) Days of Summer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character was named Tom. Every time my Zooey pushed away from the guy in the movie, she said my name; from the other side of the fourth wall, she poked me in the heart.

And I’m okay with that. She’s not my Zelda.

Happy Monday.


5 Responses to “40-Odd Days of Ilsa: Lent in Casablanca, Night 33”

  1. Those darn 4Ws.

    I’m pretty sure the most important part of “truelovetogetherforever” is really the “when.” I mean, all the others are important too, but the when is usually the deal breaker. Two people need to meet just exactly when they’re both looking for the same “truelovetogetherforever.”

    If they’re both looking for it and they find each other, they’re more likely to think, “Hey, they want the same things as me.” The “things” being “truelovetogetherforever.”

    It’s a silly, complicated dance, this thing called love.

  2. The folks in 500Days really bugged me. Quirky? Annoying. And JGL? Get a life, dude.

    • I typically hate movies like this, but I really enjoyed 500. I’m in an odd place, relationship-wise. The last ones ashes are finally doused, and a new one seems to be starting. I truly think the film could have sucked had the actors not meshed as they did. Either way, enjoy it though I did, it will never replace Casablanca.

  3. I gotta get out more. Say Zooey Deschanel and I see Elf in my head and hear She & Him in my ears. I like that young lady. I don’t know when heart run-ins become all that matters. It’s a hopeless situation. Mathematically, to think there is only one person to suit another person on this entire planet of a bunch o’ billions is ridiculous. Hearts are soft and squishy and completely lacking in sense, easily wounded, difficult to heal with the stubbornness of prize fighters. If they’d listen to brains a little more often, everyone would be better off.

    I gotta go punch someone now.

    • I don’t think you can make one rule that fits everyone. I’m a very different person now than I was at 19, and it would be statistically improbable that anyone who liked me then would like me now, and vice versa. Hell, most days I’m not 100% I like myself either, much less anyone else.

      As for your second point, using a ballbat is also satisfying. Băttjr ůp. 😀

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