The first time I went to Hollywood I had a plan. I was going to wake up early, throw open the window of my hotel room and bellow, “WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD? WHAT’S YOUR DREAM?”
That is because one, I am hilarious, and two, I harbor a passion for the movie Pretty Woman that I refuse to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, my window was sealed shut. “That’s soooo L.A.,” I muttered before loudly proclaiming “TRAFFIC AMIRIGHT” to no one before hopping into the shower convinced I now sounded like a true denizen of the west coast.
Like a lot of people, before I actually had a dick in my hand everything I knew about love and sex I learned from the movies. Pretty Woman was one of them. I was never really troubled by finding the tale of a prostitute who is "rescued" by her john romantic -- I’m a girl, most of us suckled at the treacle teat of fairy tales, after all. If anything, the fact that Edward Lewis ultimately loved Vivian Ward IN SPITE of the body she had that he enjoyed doing things to, made for a far more honest portrayal of romantic love than say, the story of Sleeping Beauty.
This month, Pretty Woman turns 25 and in celebration of its oldness, I have decided to share 5 invaluable life lessons I learned from this great if problematic romantic comedy.
1. When In Doubt, Laugh -- Loudly
If I’d never seen Pretty Woman I would never have witnessed the mesmerizing and jarring feat that is Julia Roberts laughing very loudly. If a man pretended to bite off my fingers with a jewelry box, I would probably just glower at him and/or yell, “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!” Instead, when something happens like a dude knocking me over in the middle of the street, I laugh in what I hope is a winning manner and decide that we are soulmates.
If I can switch gears and be maybe way too serious for a second -- I loved that rather than retreating when she’s afraid or uncomfortable Julia Roberts choses to laugh. It’s a bold way to live your life, whether you are play-acting at being a prostitute or not.
2. The World is Full of Jason Alexanders
Alexander’s character in Pretty Woman is the original Nice Guy. I cannot tell you how many men of average looks, professing to be nice, have said and done terrible things to my person.
Don’t get it twisted, you can an average-looking work-obsessed dude without being a totally self-entitled prick who thinks that your boobs are communal, but grasping petty tiny jerks exist and they are in far greater supply than the Richard Gere types.
3. Mouth Kissing Is a Big Deal
The first time I saw Pretty Woman I had yet to have sex with or even kiss a guy. While the movie made sex seem humdrum and de rigueur, it definitely drove home the notion that mouth kissing is a big deal. This could be why I have no problem really with sex in public places, but seldom if ever greet the guy I’m currently date with much more than a nod.
Movies warp you: Because of The Last Unicorn I still kind of feel like every other person like me was driven into the ocean by a demonic red bull. Moving on.
4. Salespeople Will Always Judge You
BUT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STAND FOR IT. As a youth, the moment where Roberts returns to the high-end boutique to sass the salesgirls there for judging her -- that was revolutionary to me. At the time in question it’s not like I was making a lot of big ticket purchases. But I knew the condescension of a salesclerk.
The bodega I frequented daily after school, spending upwards of three dollars on candy, employed a surly eye-shadow-wearing twenty-something who could not have made her thoughts on my excessive sugar purchases any clearer without saying a word. Pretty Woman taught me something essential about being an American: If I have money I can goddamn expect to buy your respect. And also Laffy Taffy.
5. Damaged Men Are Deeply Appealing
This is a lesson everyone needs to learn -- if a guy spends all of his time time telling you that he’s fucked up, BELIEVE HIM. If a guy tells you he’s bad news, that he’ll only hurt you, that he’s deeply damaged, BELIEVE HIM. He’s trying to do you a favor and nip in the bud any filmic notions movies like Pretty Woman put in your head about the sexy allure and fixability of a man who is an emotional shit-show. It’s sad but true -- these guys are compelling.
Sadly, movies where rather than paying you an exorbitant sum and sweeping you off your feet he either murders you or gives you herpes and never calls again are in short supply.