Sometimes, I watch a show or movie and the authenticity of the violence is so spot on that it surprises me. Watching this week’s premiere of “Boardwalk Empire” on HBO served up such a moment.
Even though the father of Nucky Thompson had been previously portrayed as malignant, the flashback added an aura of inevitability to the scene. Factoring in that I had told a couple of “you won’t believe how mean my dad was” stories at work that day added a note of surreal to the tv episode. Seeing Nucky’s father act so casual in advance of the brutality seemed real to me. Maybe the writer had experienced abuse but whatever the past circumstances, the chilling expectation of violence shrouded the scene until it happened.
At work, I wasn’t trying to play the “one up” game on my co-workers. But the first of my stories basically slammed the conversation into a wall.. The second anecdote proceeded to burn down the building that the conversation would have been held in.
Infrequently, I forget that not everyone had exposure to such gratuitous violence growing up. Not everyone even really believes such stories, so alien they are to them. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and go on about my day when I encounter doubt.
I don’t live in that house of violence in my adult life. But I certainly drive by it every once and a while and even though I know I should avoid it, I pull into the driveway of my youth and visit old memories stored there. I visit it only because memories are much of my life. Forgetting them is a disservice, just as using them as a crutch would be.