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Home: The Toast

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Previously in this series.

1. You’re at an emotional crossroads. You get in the bath and hold your breath underwater for around 9 seconds. When you break the water’s surface, that’s a turning point, right there. 

2. Something humiliating and/or traumatic happens. You decide your best option is to take no action, and instead respond in a numb-faced, non-verbal way.

3. The diner you work in part time requires you to wear timelessly dorky yet hip retro uniforms. If you’re intellectual, yellow is involved. Romantics = pastel pink.

4. Your best friend works at the diner too. She’s fatter than you, and more truthful. 

5. There’s ten-pin bowling.

6. The guy you like is kind of passive, with a slightly weak voice. If it’s winter he’s wearing lumberjack plaid. Likelihood of excellent musicianship or sensitive facility with carpentry is very high.

7. Your parental figures are depressed. It would be crass to allude more than obliquely to the fact that this behaviour is all down to something tragic in the back-story. 

8. You have pale skin.

9. All cars are second-hand. 

10. If sexual things are going to happen, they’ll happen with wallpaper in the background. 

11. You know things are getting really sad if the camera goes so wide you become a lone, distant figure in a comically melancholy knitted hat. 

12. Your regional hometown is cultureless and poor, but a burnt-out mentor/spiritual antagonist figure living there has a depth of knowledge related to something literary. This will help you, but not much.

13. Conflict will take place near an ironically optimistic neon sign. That’ll be a turning point, right there.

14. This story is about you because you’re inherently interesting. This is apparent from the way you veil your responses to things in a numb-faced, non-verbal way.

15. There’s no way this is just a movie about you getting together with the weak-voiced guy. This story is about a lot more than that, and the soundtrack underscores this. 

16. At the end, you forgive your depressed parental figures their flaws, deal (obliquely) with the tragic back-story, throw off your diner uniform (optional), jump in the weak-voiced guy’s second-hand car and speed past the ten-pin bowling place. Sunlight licks your pale skin as you non-verbally, numb-facedly acknowledge the fact that the neon sign you’re driving by is no longer as ironic as it seemed before you came of age. There’s some truth in it, now. The soundtrack underscores this. 

17. Somewhere your best friend also smiles. Perhaps her limbically resonant joy broadens to a grin. She looks thinner than before. Her career will eclipse yours in less time than this film will last in theaters. 

Veronica Nadine Gleeson is a writer who lives in Australia. She currently works as a senior film executive for the federal film funding body there. At 17 she switched her second and first names around - now she has to go by both, so people she’s related to don’t get confused.

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