The Mechanic by Lena Dunham, 2016
The magic trick:
Distilling the differences between two stock(ish) characters in an incredibly insightful way
Bonus magic trickin’ today.
Caught up with a new Lena Dunham story and was very impressed. People shouldn’t be allowed to be this talented. It’s really not fair.
Anyway, this story presents a not particularly original odd couple – wealthy, urbane college girl dabbling with an older, blue-collar mechanic for a summer romance.
They are nearly opposites. Of course they are. This relationship will never last. Of course it won’t.
But the story offers an illuminating way of casting these characters’ differences. She is overflowing with point of view. She is nonstop thinking about the past, the present and the future. The mechanic decidedly is not. He thinks only of the present moment, with no interest or ambitions outside of simply what is.
What a remarkable way that is to differentiate social classes. And that’s quite a trick on Dunham’s part.
We barely speak on the drive, just nurse our drinks and then silently smoke a joint you produce from the glove compartment, which means reaching across me again. You don’t mind silence and it gives me time to wonder if you’ll miss me when I go back for my junior year. You seem to exist in the moment. Your son isn’t present for you when he’s gone, unless you get an emergency call from your mom saying he’s locked himself in the shed again or written MURDER across his toy truck with your old graffiti pens.