Friday, October 5, 2012

My Perks of Being a Wallflower

Guys. I'm about to get a little emo on you. I can't help it; it's my nature.

I read this book when it came out. I don't know how I found out about it. I can't remember if I learned of it myself or if someone put it in my hands. This book has stayed with me. It retains meaning in new ways each time I read it. It might (and probably most certainly does) make other people cringe. But it makes me happy. Because it's kinda about being sad. Feeling awkward. Being a little lonely. (I told you this was gonna get a little emo.)

When I found out there would be a movie made of the book that was pretty integral to my adolescence, I worried. If I'm anything other than a amateur Pittsburgh scholar, it's television and movies directed at teens I'm an expert in. But, Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the book, also wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. A very good thing. What you see during the film's 110 minutes is something very close to the actual experience of going to high school. It's the perfect adaptation from page to screen. 

What does this have to do about Pittsburgh?

Perks of Being a Wallflower takes place in Pittsburgh. It is full of Pittsburgh things. One of its most important scenes takes place going through the Fort Pitt tunnels. Perks of Being a Wallflower was filmed in Pittsburgh. It is full of Pittsburgh things. It makes Pittsburgh look beautiful. It made me feel bad for anyone who sees this and doesn't live here. (It was also full of references only a Pittsburgher would know: the O, Eide's, "jagoff," and the Fruit Loop to name a few.)

You can catch some of those lovely sights and references in the trailer:

Before I went to see it with my brother at the beginning of the week, I reread my dog-eared, underlined copy. There might be no paragraph in fiction that has ever called out to me like this one:

Anyway, Patrick started driving really fast, and just before we got to the tunnel, Sam stood up, and the wind turned her dress into ocean waves. When we hit the tunnel, all the sound got scooped up into a vacuum, and it was replaced by a song on the tape player. A beautiful song called "Landslide." When we got out of the tunnel, Sam screamed this really fun scream, and there it was. Downtown. Lights on buildings and everything that makes you wonder. Sam sat down and started laughing. Patrick started laughing. I started laughing. 

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
- Stephen Chbosky

Treat yourself to a couple hours in the movies with Perks of Being a Wallflower. If you take it in at the Manor, you can also take in a beer. Celebrate adolescence with a cold one now that those awkward years are behind you.

1 comment:

  1. I was struck by another tunnel passage:

    There’s something about that tunnel that leads to downtown. It’s glorious at night. Just glorious. You start on one side of the mountain, and it’s dark, and the radio is loud. As you enter the tunnel, the wind gets sucked away, and you squint from the lights overhead. When you adjust to the lights, you can see the other side in the distance just as the sound of the radio fades because the waves just can’t reach. Then, you’re in the middle of the tunnel, and everything becomes a calm dream. As you see the opening get closer, you just can’t get there fast enough. And finally, just when you think you’ll never get there, you see the opening right in front of you. And the radio comes back even louder than you remember it. And the wind is waiting. And you fly out of the tunnel onto the bridge. And there it is. The city. A million lights and buildings and everything seems as exciting as the first time you saw it. It really is a grand entrance.