Most of the time when I have sleepless nights it's because I'm naturally nocturnal and I can only struggle against my nature for so long. The other main culprits in the case of my stolen sleep are books. If I'm not reading one I just can't put down I'm thinking about the one I just finished or wishing I could talk to someone about it or talking to myself about it. Rarely do movies have this sort of impact on me and even more rarely do television shows. I live with the characters in a book for a day or two for a short one and a week or two for a long one, longer still if it's a series of books. A movie is over in a couple of hours and a television show even quicker. Even a series of movies or a season of a television show don't add up to days. It isn't just the time spent, though, it's where the characters reside and where the stories take place. In a movie or television show everything happens on a screen. In a book it all takes place in my mind and my mind is a crowded, dark place. Once something gets in there it has a hard time finding it's way out.
Tonight, however, is one of those rare occasions where a television episode will be to blame for my struggles at work tomorrow. I've mentioned Louie on at least a couple of occasions in this blog but I probably should have mentioned it more. Any blog about single fathers and dating after a divorce should mention the show. It's one of the few portrayals you'll find of that life anywhere on television and absolutely the most honest portrayal of it, or any other kind of life, you'll find. I never thought I'd find a show I related to more than Roseanne but I have. I'm late to the party on Louie. The show premiered three years ago and I've just finished the first season on Netflix. I don't know if I ever would have watched the show if it weren't for my last girlfriend so that's another positive I can take from that relationship.
The episode that is keeping me awake tonight is the season finale of season one titled "Night Out". I want to tell those of you that read this about the episode and my reactions to it. Yes, this is going to be a sort of review of a three year old television episodes. I know my readers like my soul baring stuff better, but as I told someone last night, I can't do soul baring all the time. Sometimes baring my soul would just be saying I'm hungry. Besides, I have a feeling if you read between the lines of this post, and possibly just read the lines themselves, you'll find plenty of my naked soul to satisfy your voyeuristic tendencies. After all, this episode did affect me so deeply that I'm awake and writing this.
The episode begins with Louie on a date that appears to be going well. His date says she has something weird to tell him but that she wants to tell him because she really likes him. He wisecracks, "You do? That is weird." She tells him that she has a kid but she's always afraid to tell guys because they get weird about it. He asks the kids age and what grade of school he's in and his date is delighted that he's taking it so well. He tells her he's taking it so well because he has two daughters of his own. His date says, ""I just don't think I can take this on right now. A guy with kids? Yeah, I just..that's a lot." I haven't had that exact reaction but I've had single mothers tell me they don't want to date a guy with kids of his own. They want you to deal with their complications but they don't want to deal with yours.
The next scene is an exhausted Louie reading a bedtime story to his girls. He's bored and tired and it makes parenting look like a chore which, as any parent knows, it is sometimes but you rarely see it that way on television. One of his daughters complains, "Daddy, this story is boring." "Shhh," he responds, "It's supposed to be boring. I'm trying to put you to sleep. That's why it's boring." That little moment reminded me of the book Go the F@@K To Sleep. Every parent knows the feeling.
The scene progresses with his girls begging him to sing a song and crying when he won't. Then it cuts to him doing a standup comedy routine where he's talking about putting his kids to sleep. The best line is, "I just want the joy and challenge of fucking parenthood to end so I can eat all the ice cream in the freezer that they have no idea is there." He also jokes about threatening to kill a bird in front of his daughters if they don't go to sleep.
Then the show cuts back to his apartment after he's put the kids to sleep and there's a knock on the door. It turns out to be a babysitter that he's forgotten he even arranged for. He tells her this and says he has nothing to do but he'll try to find something. He walks out of his apartment building, changes his mind, walks back in, and tells her he has nowhere to go so he's just going to stay home but he'll pay her anyway. The babysitter starts crying and lecturing him about his depressing life.
"Do you want the girls to know that you're alone? Do you want to teach them that a good man just has nobody? You have to be whole for them. You need to be with somebody that's going to care for you. A man needs that. And it's none of my business but I can't just sit here and watch you waiting to die. Just get out of here, try to get laid. Just have fun. You need someone, you know? If you don't give a shit about yourself do it so the girls won't have a depressing loser for a father. Just go."
I'm not quite as bad as he is. I go out. I go out quite a bit with Brad gone this summer. The thing is I don't really feel like I need to. Sure, I would like someone but I'm actually more than content with a life of just being a dad and working and reading my books. Most of my life I've wished for more solitude and now that I have a buffet of it in front of me I could happily gorge myself on it. Brad doesn't need me to be like that, though. An eight year old wouldn't understand. Besides, if he thought he and my few friends and family were all I have in life he might feel pressure to take care of me and he shouldn't feel that way. He needs to know too that it is possible to have an emotionally fufilling relationship with a woman and maybe someday I can teach him that by example. So I date mainly because of my son...and because I enjoy sex with others more than I enjoy sex with myself.
Left with little choice Louie ventures out. After wondering the streets for awhile and seeing kissing couples everywhere he ends up drinking with some fellow comedians. They watch a couple of young, black comedians hit on women and marvel at their skill. One comedian tells Louie, "You've got to be like that. Be confident, black, handsome, not boring, don't wear that shirt." Louie ends up asking the black comics if he can hang out with them and they promise that it's a big world out there and they're going to find something out there for him and get him laid.
They end up at an urban dance club that Louie is obviously uncomfortable at. The guys try to introduce him to some women but he can't hear them over the music so they're soon ignoring him. He watches them approach some young women and decides to try their approach himself. He awkwardly approaches with his hands out and the young women scream and slap him. He makes his escape from the club as the guys laugh at him and wonders to an almost empty comedy club and asks to do a set. He ends up rambling depressed about divorce comparing it to being freed from a long prison sentence where you get dropped out at the bus station with eight dollars and all your belongings in a brown paper bag.
"I'm forty-two and I'm really good at masturbating. I'm like the best masturbater on the planet Earth. There is nobody better at that than me. So I'm going to continue to excel at that. I'm going to focus on that and raising my children. I know it's not nice to say both those things in one sentence but they happen to be the two things that I do the best."
As you know if you read this post I'm not the best at approaching women in public. They don't usually scream and slap me but that's probably because I never get up the nerve to approach them in the first place. That's why I use internet dating sites. As you can tell there's not much I'm afraid of saying when I'm on the other end of a computer screen. I find myself wondering why Louie doesn't use the internet in the show but prehaps that's coming in the season I haven't watched yet. There's comedy gold waiting to be mined in the internet dating experience. Trust me, I know.
After his set, Louie runs home. He wakes up the babysitter, pays her, and lies to her about how he made out with a woman with big tits. He doesn't lie very convincingly but she gets this look on her face like she accepts the lie because she wants to believe it. He sits on his couch alone at four in the morning about to fall asleep when his daughters wake up. They're hungry and want to go out to breakfast. He says, "You want to go out to breakfast now?"
Then we see him sitting at an all night diner with his girls having breakfast in the middle of the night. The whole night he's been trying to find some sort of peace and happiness and he finds it cutting up his daughters' pancakes. A beautiful, funny song that Louis C.K. wrote himself, performed by a band called Sweetpro, plays as we just watch a father having breakfast with his daughters. I encourage you to listen to the song.
It's a beautiful song and a beautiful scene and that's when I started crying. Don't worry Mom. They weren't depressed tears. Your baby boy is fine. I just miss my son. I'm know you understand that feeling. I wasn't crying because I was missing Brad either, though. I was crying at the joy of having a child and how well the show illustrated that joy. Louie is an uncomfortable, awkward show that will make you cringe from it's unflinching reality as often as it makes you laugh outloud, and that's pretty often, but then when it has you off balance it will hit you with some genuine emotion. It's brillant and if you like brillant, bald headed men with ginger beards you should be watching the show. If you don't like brillant, bald headed men with ginger beards then why are you reading this blog?