One of my favourite scenes of all time from the movies is from the film The Town starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner as best friends and bank thieves who get into a seriously bad situation in Boston. Ben has just learned that the girl he is interested in – who happens to work at the bank they robbed – is being harassed by some skeevy dudes that live near her. Ben goes to see his best friend.
Ben: “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we’re going to hurt some people.”
Jeremy, after a moment’s thought: “Who’s car are we gonna take?”
Jeremy Renner was nominated for an Academy Award for this role, and this single moment right here is why. The Academy, just like me, is a sucker for loyalty. I just love characters who stand by the hero, the sidekicks who offer unquestioning support, the ones who got your back. A few years ago, there was a meme going around where you had to pick three values that you cared most about, and for me, loyalty was at the top of the list. It’s almost physically painful for me to cut anyone out of my life; once you’re in, you’re in.
This scene came up between me and Sir Monkeypants this morning as we were chatting about our middle kid. Gal Smiley just turned 12 and she’s becoming a little harder to reach, a little farther away. She’s usually buried in a video game or a book, hiding out in her room with headphones on. We only see her at dinner and even then she’ll pout if we aren’t watching a show. At bedtime she’s moved past the tuck in and chat phase, and now just puts on her headphones and listens to music until she falls asleep.
I miss her, and I worry that when she starts running into teenage troubles we won’t have a good foundation for her to come to me for conversation and advice, so we’re going to work on that. But one thing that Gal Smiley does have is my own sense of loyalty, in spades. For her friends, she’s their rock, their Jeremy Renner, the one who is willing to punch someone in the face in revenge for a mean comment made to one of her inner circle. She’s the one who still invites kids to her birthday party who she hasn’t seen since they moved away two years ago, because they were friends once, and so therefore still are. Once you’re in, you’re in.
Luckily for me, I was already in with her from day one. I’ve got her back, and I know she’s got mine. We just need to find our way back, and I know we will. We just need to figure out who’s car we’re gonna take.