October 22, 2008

Wherein Rebecca Weiss Stalks Leonardo DiCaprio

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There’s a whole laundry list of songs from the late 1990s that I only associate with the movie Titanic. They have zero to do with the film, but the late-90’s techno craze coincided with the time period in which I learned what love truly was (Titanic taught me that). Every night for, like, I’d guesstimate about six months, I’d make sure I was in my room, listening to the radio. (Wow, times have changed — now my radio consumption consists only of Bay Area AM talk radio, and only when I want to set a romantic mood.) Every night at 9 p.m., I listened in for the Z95.7 top 9 at 9. Or was it top 10 at 10?
It really doesn’t matter — every night Celine Dion would be at #1 and I’d stare at the ceiling thinking about the end of the movie, when Kate Winslet comes down the stairs and Leo’s not dead anymore. Crystal Waters “100% Pure Love,” Real McCoy “Another Night” and anything by LaBouche would precede Celine, pumping me up and even sometimes matching their lyrical theme to what I envisioned Kate Winslet’s life was like post-Leo.
“Another night, another dream It’s always you / It’s like a vision of love that seems to be true.” It’s like Real McCoy was speaking directly to me, Rebecca Weiss, in my Gap Kids Khaki overalls.
I swear I saw Titanic just the one time, and the night we went to see the movie, I probably threw a tantrum because I hadn’t heard of it. By god, there had been no ad campaign during the reruns of Saved by the Bell! How dare they expect me to sit for three-plus hours in a theater when I could be watching TV? Nonetheless, we entered some Westwood theater and my life changed forever. Post-viewing, I was so depressed I couldn’t even enjoy my pot stickers at Mr. Chow’s.
Even when I felt as though my first love had been dangled in front of my face and then killed straightaway, I didn’t cry. Nor did I ever watch the movie again. (I swear.) I was not part of the shrieky mob that saw the movie 28 times and helped to push James Cameron to a billion dollars. Nay, I masked my undying love for Leonardo DiCaprio with a super intense feigned interest in marine biology.
I told everyone the movie made me want to do what Robert Ballard did, and go into tiny vessels, discovering shit on the bottom of the ocean. I poured over books about the RMS Olympic and the RMS Brittanic, the sister ships to the Titanic on the White Star Line. At the end of my fifth grade year, when my mom commissioned the bakery to draw the Titanic in icing on my 11th birthday cake, I decided to put my Titanic times to bed so that I wouldn’t have to explain myself (i.e. lie) anymore at middle school the next year. I had enough stress with the “changing classrooms for every subject” problem looming over my head.
The summer I turned 20, I was sitting with my friend Sarah in my friend Pardis’ room. They both knew me way back when, and when Pardis was flipping through the channels, she saw Titanic and had a fit, basically falling to the floor.
“Becca, this is your life’s purpose!”
“You shut your dirty mouth!” I screamed, as I ripped the remote control from her hand.
You see, I must never watch the movie again. If I watch it, the experience will tarnish the memories I have from when I wasn’t yet jaded and didn’t yet have the skills to analyze things beyond what they were in front of me.
“Dude, you used to be really in love with Leonardo DiCaprio,” Sarah pointed out, as if: a) I didn’t already know that, and, b) she was talking about a condition from which I had been cured (judging by her use of the past tense). No sirree, Sarah Lewis. I’m just as taken by that piece of man-Zeus as I was when I was still wearing my moldy pink jellies.
It was at that moment when I had an epiphany. We were approaching the 10-year anniversary of my undying love for Leonardo DiCaprio. I knew that 25th anniversary is when you get silver, and 50th is when you get gold, so I looked up what you get for a 10th anniversary. After finding out it was “tin or aluminum” (no-thank-you) I suggested to Sarah and Pardis that we go down to L.A. in my mom’s GPS-equipped car, buy a star map and hunt down Leonardo DiCaprio instead.
Always up for an adventure, my friends packed up and we were off dodging onion-trucks on Highway 5 the next day. Pardis goes to UCLA, so we parked outside where her school friends were living and bought the most expensive (and, ergo, more accurate) star map in the city — from the dude in the folding chair outside the UCLA gate across from Bel Air. We ran back to the car, plugged in the coordinates — I won’t tell you, naturally, since I don’t want to invade his privacy or anything — and were off. My cold, stone heart was so overcome with emotion that I drove more erratically than usual, so we had to stop and switch drivers. We headed up to the address, and I put on “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys to set the tone.
It’s not a very easy house to find. I had “God Only Knows” on repeat for at least 45 minutes.
When we finally arrived, behind all the giant shrubs and towering fences with zero vantage point of the house or of the demigod, I played “God Only Knows” one more time. It really meant something … that time.
But about 30 seconds into the song, Danny DeVito strolled by and Sarah started following him with the car because she feels the same way for Danny DeVito as I feel for Leo ever since she saw Twins. Such is life, I suppose.