In case you hadn’t heard, I’m officially in my Jim Parsons era. We’re basically destined to be BFFs…We were born at the same hospital in Houston on March 24 (exactly 7 years apart) and both went on to graduate from the University of Houston. Our lives obviously took very, very different turns from there.
Like everyone else, I loved watching Jim play Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory – but in what may be a hot take, I’ve equally enjoyed seeing him in some of his more recent, dramatic (and even singing!) roles. I was lucky enough to see him twice as Alfie Byrne in the Terrence McNally musical A Man of No Importance at Classic Stage Company last fall. In such an intimate theater, I could have quite literally reached out and touched him (don’t worry, I know the rules).
Not long after that, I visited the 92nd Street Y for a screening of his latest movie, Spoiler Alert, with a live Q&A following with Jim (who plays Michael Ausiello) and Ben Aldridge (who plays his partner Kit Cowan), joined by Michael Ausiello (who wrote the memoir on which the film is based). As I did with A Man of No Importance, I went in blind. So, when they introduced the film and mentioned the book by its full title – Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, I did a real-life double take.
It was in that moment I realized I’d sort of subconsciously assumed I was in for a cute, fluffy romantic comedy situation. As I picked my jaw up off the floor, the lights go down and the movie opens with Kit at death’s door. We then go back in time to learn how we got to that point – and are simultaneously entertained and emotionally ripped to shreds in the process.
Following Michael and Kit on their relationship journey from meeting in a bar to saying goodbye in a hospital bed years later made me reflect on my own life, and life in general. It dawned on me that we’re all living out this plot line every single day. From the moment we’re old enough to understand what’s going on here, we know that we are all going to eventually die. Life is one big choose-your-own-adventure that will always end the same way. Death and taxes.
If there’s no getting out alive, then there must be something within the human mind that can block out this bit of knowledge on a daily basis, or there’s no way we could all function the way we do. Getting caught up in the little annoyances of everyday life, letting work stress consume you, lashing out at a loved one, the list goes on and on. None of the mundane minor inconveniences truly matter, and yet there are definitely days I find myself believing they’re all that do.
At the same time, that human coping mechanism is also one million percent necessary. How else could any of us to go about our daily routines of coffee, emails, traffic, meetings and such in the face of the debilitating fact that none of it makes any real difference and could all be over in an instant? In the movie, it’s Kit’s terminal cancer diagnosis and awareness he’s so close to death that allow him such freedom to really live.
We have no choice but to prepare for the future as if it’s promised, while also living in the moment as if it’s all we have. An honestly impossible balancing act that we’ll never actually master…But we have to keep trying. Because, Spoiler Alert: Knowing how the story ends doesn’t make it any less worthy of writing.