October 23rd, 2012

Dear Stephen,

I am writing to you because you see things. Things that are there, but I can’t see. You point them out and then I see them, like that picture of the pretty lady my art teacher put on the projector. “Look closely,” she said, and so I stuck my neck out and squinted hard until my eyebrows hurt and the teacher laughed. Then she pointed to a couple of lines, and I saw the pretty lady was also an ugly lady, at the same time. The teacher called it an optical illusion. I think most of the world is like that.

You don’t know who I am, but then I don’t think anybody really does. I’m not saying that to make you feel sorry for me. I have friends. But sometimes it feels like you know me better. Especially yesterday.

Yesterday I saw your movie, the one you wrote based on your book, which I read, but that was awhile ago. All day it rained hard, and soft, and stopped, over and over again, like someone was turning the volume up and down on a radio. I was wearing my oldest pair of jeans, the ones my mom bought for my first day of high school. Now there are holes in them. But the holes are 100% natural. They just happened. I got the biggest hole when it was raining, actually. We were having play practice outside and I ran and slipped and fell and my knee ripped through the jeans and it sounded sort of like tiny thunder. Everyone laughed and that made me feel good, even though it hurt.

Before the movie started some nice man got up and talked about other movies coming soon. One was The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I remembered the time my friend who was in the shadowcast (I know you know what that means) invited me. She told me to dress up. So I saved from my job at the store and bought a dress. I went in the bathroom and locked the door and shaved my legs and arms and my mom kept knocking on the door and saying, “what are you doing in there?” I told her I was showering. Then there was whispering. Then my dad said, “Hey buddy? What you’re doing is totally normal, OK? But you need to speed it up.” So I finished as fast as I could, and there were little rivers of blood all over my legs and arms, so I dried off and wrapped the towel around my waist and put my dad’s bathrobe over it and walked really fast to my room. Then I went to my friend’s house and changed. When I was done, she said, “You look like Princess Di.” I didn’t know I was supposed to dress like one of the characters in the movie.

Anyway, your movie was really good. I felt like it was happening to me. I guess that’s what movies are supposed to do. But it was different than a lot of other movies I’ve seen. It made me want to go back and do things again. And it made me want to go on and do new things. Mostly it made me happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.

I guess this letter doesn’t flow, something my English teacher used to say a lot. It seems like I always start telling one story, and before I finish, start telling another. But the other is better, because I’m telling it now. Isn’t it? What do you think?

Love always,


3 thoughts on “October 23rd, 2012

  1. Hi Ben,
    Thanks for sharing that. It takes me a while to get to the point where I can share something personal with someone. In your case it seems like you did that right way with Stephen Chbosky, unless you have a whole series of letters that you’ve written to him. In any case, it takes courage to do that, and I would imagine that he appreciated reading something heartfelt from one of his fans. At some point I would like to hear your take on the film. I only saw it once, and I liked it generally, although I had a few small annoyances with it that I can no longer remember. That being said, I’ve heard enough positive commentary about the film to feel that it deserves another viewing at least. As you suggested, the film did beautifully capture the sense of transience that comes with growing up. Hope all is well.

  2. I loved the book and I was thrilled to be able to love the movie as well. I think that’s the only way a book can be made into a film: if the author writes the screenplay and directs it.

    I enjoy all of your stories, regardless of flow.

  3. It makes me feel more normal reading this letter to the creator of a film that resonated with you. I don’t really get how other people I know can walk into a film talking about other things, then walk out of a film with a simple “I liked it” or “It was fine” and then continue talking about other things afterward. I revel in the rumination, the aftermath, the contemplation. I hope you sent your letter to Stephen. I think he’d like to read how his film made you feel happy and sad, and how it made you think.

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