I hit a bad patch this summer when my father needed surgery. He took a while to recover, leaving us both crabby. My friend Gabriel sent me a fb note. Did I know Judy Blume was going to be on the Castro Sunday showing Tiger Eyes, the movie based on her book? Ears perked up. No, Gabriel! Did not know that! I ordered my ticket.
Sunday I was so excited. I ended up sharing Lizzie Skurnick's Judy Blume covers on facebook and women my age oohed and ahhed. I'm telling you, if you say "We Must We Must Increase Our Bust!" to any forty something old woman, they'll yell "Margaret!" Trust me on this.I first read Tiger Eyes on vacation in Wyoming thirty years ago. I still had the same copy, and tucked it in my purse before I left.
I went on BART then Muni, picking up the ticket at the Castro. Immediately I started taking photos. It was a typical Sunday; couples of all ages and genders were holding hands. I had a slice of pizza at Escape from New York, then waited in line outside.There was no problem getting in; however there was a LONG line for the bathroom. I pretty much had to do the hopping deal by the time it was my turn. In true SF fashion, I heard several women saying they were going to stage a protest that the theater should've been more prepared for restrooms. All we're saying man is give us a place to pee!So when I walked in the theater there weren't many seats left. I ended up in the second row with several reporters. Annoucements were made about the Jewish Movie Festival (which Tiger Eyes was a part of) I wondered what would be in a Catholic Movie Festival. Probably The Trouble With Angels, The Passion of the Christ, Dead Man Walking, and The Sound of Music.
I loved the movie. Is it exactly like the book? No. However, the emotional essence is still the same. Willa Howard as Davey was absolutely wonderful; I want to look up to see what else she's done. I'm hoping she'll be nominated for Best Actress, along with Cynthia Stevenson as Bitsy(for Best Supporting Actress) The screenplay by Judy and Lawrence Blume was wonderful. You have to love an audience that claps when Davey's mother (Amy Jo Johnson) announces she will not marry her boring suitor. I was doing okay until the ending when Davey takes out a paper bag she brought from Atlantic City. (For those of you who haven't read the book, skip this part and go to the next paragraph)
The paper bag has Davey's clothes that she wore the night her dad died. When he was shot she held him until the ambulance came, blood soaking her jeans. Davey took the clothes to a special cave she and love interest Wolf (Tatanka Means) visited on several occasions. In the cave she said goodbye to her father, then buries the clothes under rocks. I thought of my own father and my grandfather--whom I dedicated Ella Bella to--and sobbed.
When Judy and her son Lawrence came onstage, the appaluse shook the theater and continued for several minutes. Finally they had a question and answer period, where Judy said that she was working on a new novel and it was in its first draft. Suddenly I wanted her to have a copy of Ella Bella. But how? I couldn't physically give her a copy. I had an idea. I took out my phone and generated a coupon. I also had a old copy of Deenie with the back cover that finally fell off on the way to the theater. I wrote my whole name on the back cover: Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons, as neatly as I could. I wrote the name of the book, then the coupon code. I also wrote my red room email address and twitter ID. What I wanted was to tell her thank you, you inspired this, even the cover of Ella Bella was inspired by Tiger Eyes. I decided to do the Q&A, ask her something about the character Walter (who's even more of a jerk in the movie than he is in the book) then ask if I could give her the info. It would be perfect.However, someone jumped ahead of me in line. No problem! I'm mellow, I can wait. But the Q/A ended. I just stood there thinking wait a sec! I need to talk to Judy! Are you there Judy? It's me Jennifer, and I want to tell you thank you. You were one of the first authors that made me want to be a writer. I read all your books front and back. I want to be part of the solution like you are to all these girls in this theater.Wait! I'll wait and tell her! In the meantime I congratulated the actress who was Jane, then kept on waiting.
But before I could give her my info, she was whisked away. I stood there holding the back cover of Deenie, feeling sad. A woman was standing there. "Did you have something you wanted to give to Judy?"
"Um, yeah." I gave her Deenie's back cover. "I wrote this book, and it was inspired by Tiger Eyes."
"Oh, wonderful!" She looked at it. "Ella?"
"That's the title. Ella Bella!"And then a beautiful girl with brown hair said to me "My name is Ella!" She looked at me with wonder. I realized she was the woman's daughter.
"Then you get the coupon code and read it too." I said. I thanked them and made my way outside.
Of course this being the Castro, there were several naked men reading the paper outside. Needless to say, they were not used to many middle aged women from the suburbs staring at them. I tried to be mature and not giggle. All I knew was God, I loved the City, I loved Judy Blume, I loved the real Ella in the theater, I even loved the naked men (Although I hope they were wearing sunscreen, it was a warm day) I walked towards Muni. I wanted so much to give the info to Judy myself, but I remembered a quote by Gilda Radner (written months before she died of cancer) "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” Yes, oh yes. Thanks Gilda. Thanks Judy.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries