Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Drop Dead Fred

Do you remember the movie, Drop Dead Fred? I haven't seen it in years, but I remember it being hilarious.

Elizabeth ("Lizzie") loses her money, car, job and husband on the same day. She returns home to her mother (Polly) and finds her old jack-in-the-box in the closet. Untaping it releases her childhood "imaginary" friend - Fred.

The movie flashes between childhood scenes of Lizzie and Fred, and adult scenes.

Lizzie has a "makeover" at the behest of Polly. With this new look, Lizzie woos back her husband. After Fred causes Lizzie to "Have absurd conversations with thin air" as well as repeatedly hit a violinist at a local shopping mall, Polly takes her to a psychiatrist who prescribes drugs which will rid Lizzie of Fred. (Fred is seen to behave in a lethargic manner in the presence of Lizzie while she is on this prescription.) Just before Lizzie takes the last of these pills, she learns that her husband, Charles is still cheating on her. Heartbroken, Lizzie turns back to Fred.

In a dream sequence, Fred helps Lizzie face the two demons of her life: Charles and Polly. In her old room, Lizzie finds her childhood self taped to her bed. Lizzie tears the tape, releasing her young self and, in the process, frees her present adult self. Fred tells the reluctant Lizzie that, after all these years, she no longer needs him. He kisses her goodbye and disappears.

Some of the best quotes in the movie are -

[Polly has just finished reading a Fairy Tale]
Young Elizabeth -Did they live happily ever after?
Polly - Of Course Elizabeth.
Young Elizabeth - How do you know?
Polly - Because, she was a good little girl, if she would have been naughty, the Prince would have run away.
Young Elizabeth - What a pile of shit.

Fred - [sitting inside the refrigerator] [about Charles] Snotface, he's the wrong man for you.
Lizzie - I don't want to hear it
Fred - You're not happy. [Elizabeth closes the fridge door]
Lizzie - Yes I am.
Fred - [crawling from underneath a counter] Well, if you're so happy, then why I am still here, hmm?
Lizzie - I can fix that. [she pulls out the pills]
Fred - Oh no, don't do that. No, please, don't do that. Do- [Elizabeth takes the pill, he dubs over in pain. While grinding pepper, Elizabeth sneezes and sends Fred bouncing against the walls]

I can relate to this movie on so many levels. On the surface, it is just a comedic movie. But when you look further, it has a much deeper meaning.

In the movie, "Lizzie finds her childhood self taped to her bed. Lizzie tears the tape, releasing her young self and, in the process, frees her present adult self." In therapy language, this is akin to connecting with your inner child.

So I can't decide - does connecting with your inner child mean re-connecting to imaginary friends? Or letting them go?

My real childhood ended too fast. Even my imaginary friends grew up too fast.

I used the "friends" to bounce ideas off and make decisions. I would talk to these friends as if they were really there. I'd hear them respond and then respond back. It is how I made decisions. I'd act out the various endings. Play out the scenarios.

I grew up way too fast. I put away childish things too soon. The imaginary friends were hidden. I played it off as just "talking to myself." When I began looking back at my childhood and processing things, I wasn't sure what to do with these "friends." I still need help processing heavy decisions.

Most recently I had to decide about switching jobs. I "talked" to my "friends." I explained to them why I was thinking about leaving, staying, etc. I'd weigh the pros and cons. In talking to these people (all in my head), I began to see the path I should take. It is my version of a plus/minus sheet.
I'm not sure what talking to people who aren't really there means. Maybe I need some of Lizzie's pills. None of mine seemed to make a difference. I do know these people aren't really there. But on the other hand, if you see me going down the road, talking and gesturing to an empty passenger seat, you'll know I'm talking to a "friend" who is riding along with me.
Sometimes I wonder if online forums and blogging is a version of an imaginary friend? You can create fictionalized personas on forums or a blog. You develop relationships with people who you likely won't ever meet. Often people blog through a particular season of life, then set it aside. Sort of like Lizzie did with Fred.
So what do you think? Did you (do you) have imaginary friends? What form?

(from Postsecret)


dm said...

no imaginary friends...BUT, I definitely use my blog to do what you're describing...think out loud, and looking for input from a diverse group of people.

Ethereal Highway said...

Drop Dead Fred is one of my FAVORITE movies. And frankly, Enola, if your pills got rid of your friends I would worry that they're bad for you. Fred, huh? Cool. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees deeper psychological themes in kiddie movies. Sometimes it's even a little frightening or heatbreaking for me, like a movie called Pixel Perfect.

Ethereal Highway said...

I meant I would worry that the pills were bad - not the friends. Just wanted to clear that up.

austin said...

My favorite line in that movie is when she goes to rescue her young self but her mother tries to stop her. She turns to her mother and yells, "I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU ANYMORE."

Oh I love that!!

She'd gone up that long stair case to find her young self all tied up. Like you said, the movie wasn't just comedy it had a lot of depth to it.

I don't remember if I had an imaginary friend as a child.


Kim said...

I don't think I ever had imaginary friends as a child. But I don't think, even as an adult, they are a "bad" thing. I think they are basically just aspects of yourself that you find easier to reach on an outward, as opposed to internal, level.

April_optimist said...

Hey, I'm a writer. My characters regularly argue with me and if they don't I worry. Why not imagine someone trustworthy to discuss things with when you're trying to make a decision?

My theory is that if doing so consistently leads you to make better choices it's a good thing. If it lead you to make worse choices then and only then would I worry OR if you didn't know they were imaginary.

I've even seen it suggested that clients in therapy be encouraged to imagine "wisdom" figures who can help them feel safe and to whom they can talk when they need to so....how bad can it be?

Anonymous said...

I dont think its imaginary friends that I talk to..but I do talk to myself..especially while driving. I have often wondered what passersby must think. Maybe they think I am singing along with the radio..who knows.

I know that I process very similar to you Enola. Sometimes there are..lol..several voices going on in my head at the same time.

I am doing well now...but you should have seen some of my manic days with bipolar. Quite a hoot...if you werent someone who loved me.

You are doing so well.


lawyerchik said...

I remember watching this movie shortly after it first came out (back in the days when I'd watch stuff on HBO or Showtime). I remember totally loving most of it, but the last bits were kind of ... disturbing, and I just didn't want to watch it after that. Maybe it was Fred's refusal to let go - that was a little scary..... I don't know.

But I DO talk to myself about decisions, about general stuff that happens, etc., because if I don't, I'm afraid my head will explode. I never directed any of those conversations to anyone specific - I was just talking out loud to myself, and (weird though it might be) that just helps.

I don't remember having any imaginary friends, though. In our family, we used to joke about "Mr. Nobody" doing stuff that nobody would own up to, but that was about it.