What’s Your “milkshake”?

In the movie “Before Sunrise”, Jesse and Celine agree on “milkshake” when asked by a beggar to provide a word so he can write them a poem in exchange for money. The chosen word struck me as both simple and whimsical, yet apropos for a couple whose relationship is barely a day old.

The real test for the beggar poet would be that of a couple whose relationship has seen ups and downs over the years, or even just over the course of a shared day, either doing mundane tasks or out on the town. Unless they’re totally in sync, the odds of them finally agreeing on one word might strain the beggar’s patience. If they’ve had a bad day, the word might be divided between “fool” and “nag”, or they may eventually settle on an agreed word – perhaps “insufferable”. But none of these words would help give life to the poem, let alone provide the couple with a positive moment of both unity and clarity regarding their relationship status.

Jesse reasons the beggar has a ready-made poem, and the only word not included is the one provided by the couple. That said, the beggar might struggle less from the indecisiveness of a seasoned couple by asking each for a word. It might be interesting to see how the two words would appear together in that one line in the poem. In any case, both words need to be spontaneous, rather than thought out, in order to give the exercise credibility. Probably easier said than done.

Most couples, invariably, fall into a groove where each person’s orbit intersects with the other out of routine, like a mechanism created from the safest parts imaginable and lubricated with something of a consistency of repetitiveness. Once in a while, there needs to be words, granules of a certain spice, that challenge the gears, providing a hiccup in the mechanism, and begging the couple’s attention. I’m sure those words could be as absurd as “milkshake” or “platypus”. But in the case of two people with a history dating back to days of struggle and success, pain and joy, shouldn’t those words represent a glimpse of the sum total of a mutually-constructed identity?

As I write this, I know I’m over-thinking the words I’d like my wife and I to share, should ever the occasion arise. But for now, and as incongruous as they might appear in the poem, the quite shallow and carnal part of me knows I would always find favor with “Agreed!” in response to “Wow!”.

Daydream delusion, limousine eyelash
Oh baby with your pretty face
Drop a tear in my wineglass
Look at those big eyes
See what you mean to me
Sweet-cakes and milkshakes
I’m a delusion angel
I’m a fantasy parade
I want you to know what I think
Don’t want you to guess anymore
You have no idea where I came from
We have no idea where we’re going
Lodged in life
Like branches in a river
Flowing downstream
Caught in the current
I carry you
You’ll carry me
That’s how it could be
Don’t you know me?
Don’t you know me by now?


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