Why it might be hard to identify with Miles:
- He’s a drunk, a liar and a loser. When we first meet him, he realizes he’s late, calls someone and says, “I’m out the door right now,” then sits idly reading on the toilet. Then he does the New York Times crossword as he drives down the highway! When he finally arrives, he lies about the freeway being bumper to bumper. Then he drinks wine with Jack while driving. Then we get to the big one: He stops by his lonely mother’s house just to steal her cash, then sneaks away before the brunch she planned!
- Okay guys, this has been brewing in the comments for a while, but I think it’s time to deal with it: There’s often a difference between Believe (the old version) and Connect (the new version), and I think they’re both valuable. The reasons we believe in Miles and the reasons we connect with him are different. Why do we believe in him? Well, for many of the reasons listed above. That wealth of despicable behavior creates a compelling and believable portrait of a pathetic person. (Boldly pathetic in some ways, which is oddly endearing.)
- But it feels odd to say that any of these are reasons to connect with him. We don’t connect with these horrible traits.
- There are some things he does that are less horrible that do make us connect. When he goes in to see his mother and signs the card and seals the envelope on his knee while he’s approaching the door, I thought, “Ah, I’ve done that, I connect with that.”
- Jack’s new father-in-law congratulates Miles on publishing his novel when he hasn’t actually sold it, then says: “I like non-fiction. You read something someone just invented? Waste of time.”
- At his mom’s house, Miles is heartbroken to see that she still has a picture of him on his wedding day to his ex-wife. His mom then tells him: “You should get back together with Victoria. She was good for you. And so beautiful and so intelligent. I’m worried about you, Miles, you need somebody.” Jack tells him the next morning: “You have been officially depressed for two years now. You still seeing that shrink?” Miles replies, “I saw him on Monday. I spent most of the time helping him with his computer.”
- He gives Jack an expert wine tasting lesson, then realizes Jack’s been chewing gum the whole time. We share Miles’s exasperation.
- We envy (and somewhat pity) his wine expertise. “I like all varietals, I just don’t generally like the way they manipulate Chardonnay in California, too much oak and secondary melolactic fermentation.”
- I think the #1 thing that makes us like Miles is when he’s sniffing the wine and holds his hand up to his ear so he can smell it better. It’s so absurd that it’s endearing.
- Miles has a somewhat healthier attitude towards hook-ups than Jack does: “It’s not worth it. You pay too big a price. It’s never free.” This causes us to commit to him, not Jack.
- Eat: He eats and drinks a ton.
- Exercise: Not at all.
- Economic Activity: No, we don’t even know he’s a teacher until later. I suppose stealing from his mom counts as economic activity?
- Enjoy: He enjoys wine more than we’ve ever seen anyone enjoy wine before.
- Emulate: Not that I can see.
- Well, he ditches out on his life for a week to go on vacation, but it’s not clear he had any way he would have been making money (He presumably has the summer off from teaching?)
High five a black guy
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