I show up for Opening Night of the Film Festival the way I show up for most things in life: unprepared, awkward, and not sure if I remembered to put on deodorant. Had it been a normal night, I wouldn’t sweat it (pun intended), but tonight is big. I’m not only wearing a dress and hobnobbing with Sarasota’s finest; I’m also introducing my secret boyfriend to the world.
Thank goodness the opening film is a comedy.Before I proceed with the night’s events, allow me to introduce the secret boyfriend. Friday night taught me that it’s best for my nerves to get that out of the way early on. His name is Sam. You may remember him from my Sam article, which, believe it or not, was written before he realized his life was incomplete without me (my words, not his). Because my brain is a chaotic place, putting down his attributes on paper made me realize I was smitten…and only acknowledging it as he was moving from town. This, combined with a few sticky situations, kept him a secret until this point.
He falls asleep every time I talk and has not yet figured out how to text. He refuses to call me the most charming individual on the face of the Earth, and is not afraid to point out when I’m being delusional. He also brings flowers and Kalicious smoothies before dates, wants to learn about my family, and kisses me on the forehead. I’d say he’s great, but “Dating Keely Rules” obligate him to read everything I write and I don’t want him to know how highly I think of him.
Ick. That was on the verge of getting mushy. So moving to important things…Emily Harris, my hilarious #hash tag obsessed friend and woman behind ems b. jewelry, comes to my rescue with a handmade necklace to tie together my outfit for the evening. Although my descriptions of myself would surely lead you to think I have glamour down, my wardrobe and jewelry collection are not quite up to socialite par. And slovenly will not do for Sarasota events. (If there were anyone who wants to bribe me to stop writing about him, some ems b jewelry wouldn’t hurt the cause…)I’d like to say that I arrive early and strut my stuff down the red carpet, like the celebrity that I think I am, but I do not. I arrive late with barely enough time to gaze in awe at the Van Wezel lobby before being ushered into the theater. I fall even more in love with Sarasota when a short plays, showing how the town came together to save the home that now houses the FSU College of Medicine. Then I choke a bit on my own saliva when Dr. Bruce Berg, the Regional Dean, brags that Sarasota is home to the only medical school in the country that is housed in a pink, three story, doublewide mobile home.
Not to be outdone, Tom Hall, Director of the Festival, welcomes everyone and gives a brief history of the SFF. He wisecracks that the Festival has “grown like [his] waistline,” in the past 14 years.
The Festival officially begins when 'Robot and Frank ' starts. As can be expected, I had no idea what it was about and was pleasantly surprised. Any sort of movie review from me always ends up spinning into a parable about my life, so I’ll just say that I’d be down for having a robot like Frank’s.
After the credits roll, Frank Langella charms the crowd with my kind of humor—my personal favorite is when he calls the director “kid,” tells him not to interrupt the grown ups, refers to himself as a whore, and tries to hock his jacket to the crowd.
But his humor must end at some point. And then it’s go time. Time to introduce Sam to the world. And by the world, I mean the four or five people that will be there that know us both and will be surprised to see us together. Their reaction: hugs all around. No one halts the whole party, goes to the microphone, and announces this life-changing tidbit. They just say that they like the match and move on with their evenings.
My mind is blown.
What also blows my mind is my inability to share with the world anything that does not revolve around me. Entering the week, my goal was to figure out what this Film Festival thing was about and why it had become an institution in town. Maybe find out a few things I didn’t know and pass some knowledge on to eager readers. Alas, eager readers (I refer to you as Keelyites when I’m talking to myself), my mission remains incomplete. I’m still a novice to Film Festival Mania. But the week is not yet over. Not quite, anyway.
I’ve seen some films and heard about the events and am letting a theory percolate. It involves a town-wide identity crisis that is relieved only by combining entertainment with poshness. How I’m going to confirm this theory, I don’t know. My chance at attending everything has passed; I’m spending the weekend in Denver with my no-longer-secret boyfriend. That is, unless he reads this and decides to dump me on the spot. In which case…I'll smell ya all at the closing events. Or, more accurately, you'll smell me.