A Person Of Action

In my other life, I would understand the movie ‘Heat.’

Photos by Jarred Figgins

More accurately, I would be the kind of person who can understand the movie Heat. It has been three tries, now, and I am none the wiser. The kind of person who can understand the movie Heat is able to understand why several men with haircuts are shouting at each other and charging in and out of rooms. They are making out with women they have just met in several unsettling locations, and shooting at each other for many hours in the street. Why? To what end? I don’t know, because I am not the kind of person who can understand the movie Heat. In my other life, I would be. The knock-on effects of this would be innumerable, and they would all be good. If I understood the movie Heat, I would be efficient — a person of action, possessed of many tricks and tips regarding how best to manage her time. I would be a different kind of person altogether.

Apparently this saves space.

The kind of person who can understand the movie Heat is the kind of person who can listen when someone says directions, instead of hearing a kind of whistling/roaring in their ears as they wait to get it over with and then wander out lost into the world.

They can have sleeps in the daytime and wake up Refreshed instead of guilty and panicked.

They would have, in general, a healthy relationship with guilt. They would understand its uses, but it would not be the secret motivating force behind nearly everything they did.

They have no strong opinions on Shakira, either way.

They can only work at a desk, instead of sitting on their bed with papers all around like a hamster.

This won’t help, Mark.

They regularly go to the shops to buy groceries and then when they are hungry, at home, they open the fridge and there it is: food. They take it to work in a clearly marked container.

They are patient. They are infrequent impulse shoppers. When they do succumb to the urge, they always buy the exact right thing.

They possess many chargers and double adaptors, and they have a generally respectful and calm relationship with appliances, headphones, the internet, and so on.


They do a sport.

They dress right for the weather.

They know how to make it so their car isn’t so god damn hot, a furnace with many diet soda cans on the floor.

Factor 50 every day.

In the movie Heat, why does Val Kilmer look so different all the time?

What happened to Ashley Judd? In life, and in that movie?

Where is that actress from? You know the one I mean.

People who understand the movie Heat either know this instinctively, which is great, or they don’t care, which is even better.

They are like this about many things. They know what is important.

These are probably Mark’s keys.

They don’t care hardly at all about the princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, or Wendi Deng, or why Jerry Hall’s entire bridal party looked so fucked up. Why did she marry him. Why. Jerry, are you bankrupt or are you literally in love with Rupert Murdoch. He so old, Jerry. He so overtly sinister in every respect. Also his children definitely hate you. Why did you do this, again?

I will never stop asking these questions, because I am not the kind of person who understands the movie Heat. In my other life, I would be.

I see no problem with this.

I would be good at packing.

I would never have sand in my bed.

I would have a number of clean, white t-shirts.

People have been arrested for less.

My New Year’s Eve plans would be good.

I would not remember with searing clarity every embarrassing thing I have ever done.


I would spend money on dumb, practical stuff such as brooms, such as a printer, such as dishwashing liquid and lightbulbs and drain cleaner, and I would not be overcome with sadness at how rubbish it is to be an adult.

When I was thirsty, I would just get up and get a glass of water instead of just sitting here, thirstier and thirstier, waiting for something indefinable to change.

I would be ready for anything.

I would never sit against a wall at a party with a hard plant digging into my back, too immobilized by shyness and discomfort to move.

I would understand the rules of football, cricket, and the road.

Nobody ever smelled a hung-up towel.

I would understand the movie Heat, and how a person goes about having a pristine life, everything neat and ordered and in rows, and I would not project so remorselessly onto other people, telling myself that their ability to understand a long, long police procedural which is not even amazing is somehow indicative of innate superiority, of great wells of inner resilience and peace.

Seems illegal.

I really understood nothing of that movie at all.

I was looking at the Wikipedia summary on my phone while I was watching, even.



In My Other Life, a collection of essays from writers we love, is The Awl’s goodbye to 2016.