When I was fifteen I had a crush on Jack Nicholson. My mother has hated him ever since, even making disparaging comments about the book “Jack’s Life” that she bought for my dad when I was a baby. In about forty years, I’m sure she’ll be giving the harp-playing Roger Corman an earful about him casting the young actor with funny eyebrows and a weird backstory.
Anyway, about the time I developed that crush, someone gave me a copy of “Terms of Endearment” on DVD
for Christmas, and it is my favorite sick movie to this day (when I have colds or sinus infections, I watch it, cry, and then feel better because my sinuses are clean). But my favorite part of the movie is, however, the romance between Aurora Greenway and Garrett Breedlove, the astronaut. And it’s better than the book.
I like watching their characters develop– Aurora become less selfish and less uptight, and Garrett become less of an asshole. In fact, he’s a pretty good guy by the end (I guess he needed to have his ego deflated?). But the best scene, I think, is when she sees him off at the airport when he visits her when she’s seeing Emma at the hospital. It’s not particularly epic, in fact it might not be all that romantic (I couldn’t even find stills or clips from it), but it’s a great scene just the same.
They hug goodbye at the drop-off, and Aurora realizes that Garrett has his hand on her ass. She kind of rolls her eyes, but puts her hand on his. They separate and she says, “Thank you, I love you, have a good flight.”
He waves goodbye and starts to go into the airport, when she calls him back and asks if he had any sort of reaction to her telling him that she loves him. Garrett says, “Damn… just inches from a clean getaway!”
And he looks at her with probably the sweetest version of the Nicholson shark grin and says, “I got nothing but my usual answer… I love you, too, kid.” And you can tell he means it. It’s a great reprieve before Emma dies and that mysterious person suddenly starts cutting onions in your living room.
It also strikes me, as a true-to-life declaration of love. When my fiance first told me he loved me, I tried to wiggle out of saying anything, because I was shy about admitting that I’d been in love with him since he first expressed an interest in me. But, like Aurora, he didn’t let me off the hook. And I told him.
And once I got off the phone, I had a good laugh. Who knew I’d channel a movie like this?
But the personal connection is only a part of why this scene is a favorite of mine. I love the “this is my moment” and the Garrett-turns-out-the-light scenes as much as anyone, but they’re a bit more melodramatic and stagey. This one is very quiet, and very genuine. Not bad for a tearjerker, right?