If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, you like to have some sort of ambient background noise for when you’re doing something at home. I usually tend to put on some music, National Public Radio or just flip on the television set. Earlier this afternoon I was drinking a cup of coffee with the idiot-box droning in the next room when I could have sworn I heard, “On next is Burt Reynolds in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.” I was shocked for a moment as my brain attempted to process such ludicrousness.
Could I possibly have heard that correctly?
Like any other normal person, I ran into the living room to see if my ears had deceived me. As if by some divine miracle, my ears had indeed registered true. The bottom of the screen verified for me that I was minutes away from watching a movie that sounded so amazing I could hardly believe it existed anywhere but in my craziest dreams. Closing my eyes and clenching my fists, I whispered to myself that everything was going to be perfect from now on. It was if someone had taken away all of the bad things that had ever happened to me and replaced them with infinite hope and untainted joy. It was clear to me that the next two hours were going to be the greatest of my entire life. Knowing that I only had a few moments to spare, I put away what I was working on and grabbed a soda before running back to the television.
I began to fantasize about what sort of music they would use for the cat dancing scenes and how it would all be worked into the plot. Would he play a rough and tuff type who had to keep his love of feline footwork a secret from a judgmental family who were simply incapable of understanding his art? Perhaps Reynolds puts on a play featuring cats in hope to raise money for his own veterinary clinic but ends up taking the show all the way to Broadway. Of course there was always the chance that this could be a dark tale about a serial killer and taxidermist who created twisted marionettes from once beloved household pets. I must have come up with a dozen possible scenarios for the film’s plot before the MGM lion’s roar indicated that it was about to commence and the great mystery would soon be revealed. Still unsure as to how I could have possibly missed a movie as ridiculous as this had to be, I imagined Reynolds hunched over to dance with “duchess” or “mittens” and almost died from laughter.
Ten minutes later a grim reality began to sink in. There would be no cat dancing in this film. I had been suckered in by the most misleading title ever to be conceived. When the film explained that Burt Reynolds was being released from prison for avenging the murder of his Native American wife, named Cat Dancing, I became so disappointed that I just shut off the television and went outside to quietly look at the sky. It all seemed like a terrible and dirty trick. How could the filmmakers have possibly expected a rational human being to anticipate anything other than dancing cats in a that has a title that, essentially, promises exactly that? Am I supposed to believe that at no point in time during production did someone say, “Does anybody else think that some people might think this movie will be about dancing cats?”
I don’t buy it.
It just goes to show how dangerous it is to make assumptions. I wanted to believe in something so ridiculous that my mind simply refused to employ logic or entertain any other possibilities as valid. That’s dangerous. It is rare that anything is quite so amazing as it seems to be initially but we humans will often ignore the years of accumulated knowledge so that we might, briefly, live out a fantasy. This is why people cheat on loved ones, go into debt, start wars, play the lottery and why a man believed with all of his heart that he would get to see Burt Reynolds dance with a calico cat named Buttons.
Hold onto your dreams and continue to strive for them but, the next time you find yourself suddenly enamored with something or someone, take a moment to think critically and objectively. Consider where your have been before in your life and don’t act too rashly because I can almost guarantee you that you will regret it later. Still, it is sometimes wonderful to think of what might have been and occasionally the juice truly is worth the squeeze.