I’d Rather Make Out, Too

Seinfeld Schindler\’s List — watch the episode

I’m leaving Friday for a 10-day residency at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, part of the coursework for a Master of Fine Arts in Writing.  One of the assignments I had to complete prior to showing up in Louisville was to watch Schindler’s List.

I have a list of movies that I would rather be poked in the eye than ever see again.  Disney’s Wall-E is on that list along with Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, the kid’s movie about horses, because of the lack of dialogue in each film.

From what I remember, the only word in the Wall-E film is “Eva.”  And the only “word” in Spirit was the horses’ “Heeeeeeeee!”  I hate those movies.

Schindler’s List, however, is the best movie I’ve ever seen that I did not want to see again.   It’s brutal to watch.    And apparently, it was just as hard to write and to make.  Stephen Spielberg has said that he got so depressed while making the film that he went home at night and watched Seinfeld reruns to make him feel better, which is why Jerry Seinfeld says he wrote the episode about making out during Schindler’s List.

Oskar Schindler’s story had been around for almost 50 years when Steven Zallian decided to write the script.  And according to David Kipen, author of The Schreiber Theory, no one – screenwriter or director – wanted to touch it before that.  And the reason is  that Oskar Schindler went kind of crazy after World War Two.  It was hard to reconcile his greatness with what he became – a falling down drunk who failed at seven businesses and his marriage.

Zallian solved the problem with five words, Kipen writes.  The war had ended, and Schindler told the Jews in his factory that they were free to go.  As a member of the Nazi party, he was forced to flee Czechoslovakia. In the movie, as he says goodbye to “his” Jews, he begins to sob and say, “I could have done more.”  He points to his car and says, “It would have been worth ten more people.  I could have saved more.” He pulls a pin off his lapel and says, “This would have been worth one life.”

I realize that my take on the scene is odd, and I certainly mean no disrespect to the amazing story of Schindler and the 1,100 people he saved.  But I also can’t helping comparing Oskar Schindler to almost every mom I know.   We get up in the morning and feel guilty for taking the time to brush our teeth and change out of our pajamas before packing lunches, making a nutritious hot breakfast, and driving carpool or beginning the day’s homeschool lessons.  We sport ponytail hair because washing it takes too much time, time we need to make caterpillars out of egg cartons and to bake homemade cupcakes for the sixteenth class party this school year.  We eat the leftovers from our kids’ plates while simultaneously having a conference with the teacher, doing a load of laundry, and mopping up dog vomit.

But somehow, we fall into bed every night beating ourselves up because Stilton went to sleep without a bedtime story and Angelica will have to wear a store-bought Halloween costume because there was no time to sew one.

“I could have done more” is bullshit.   And thinking that way can make you crazy.  This evening, why not pour yourself a glass of wine, find a good Seinfeld rerun, and tell Gomek and Gwendolyn to put themselves to bed?  They’ll survive — I promise.

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