Relationship Goals I learned from “Almost Famous”

When I was young I wanted desperately to be Penny Lane from Almost Famous. I love music so much that losing my iPod last month sent me into a deep depression, and I love musicians so much that they basically make up 95% of my social-romantic circle…being a Band Aid had to be my calling, you know? It seemed only natural that I would go and visit my band friends in LA this weekend, to go on tour and bask in pure Penny Lane-ness of it all.

Cut to me power-drinking whiskey as “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” plays in a bar in West Hollywood, having freshly bailed on the apartment. AS IT WOULD TURN OUT, being pure Penny Lane is mostly about having some musician go nuclear on your heart when you thought you were so above that.

Anyway, whether it’s through William’s infatuation with Penny or Penny’s ill-fated romance with Russell, Almost Famous has some twisted #relationshipgoals woven into it’s plot. And through the magic of our favorite Band Aid (and the radioactive ache of my Nagasaki heart), here is everything the film teaches us about love, smiling through feelings of rejection, and going postal in a cerulean mini-dress.

Never take it seriously. 

This is practically Penny’s credo, and the premise is pretty simple: “if you never take it seriously, you never get hurt, you never get hurt, you always have fun.” When you’re mired in youth and dwell in a hard-partying environment, that’s actually not a bad way to live your life. It doesn’t make sense to invest so heavily into something, especially when you don’t truly live in the real world yet.  Make no mistake, it is a good credo.

Is it a realistic credo? Well…that’s a whole other thing…

Seducing someone is all a series of well-calculated looks and pretending you truly don’t care.

Polexia summarizes Russell and Penny’s coy courtship in acts, and Penny’s initial coolness is impressive. With all her whimsical skits and Queen-of-the-Band-Aids status, Russell can only pretend like he’s not noticing her pretending not to notice him (but actually zeroes in on her). “She’ll eat him alive,” is Polexia’s inevitable conclusion. With Penny’s confidence, this is a blanket statement that applies to many men (and our young William, as it turns out).

True love does not sell you to other bands for $50 and Heineken…or something to that ilk.

We treaded this subject in part one of “Cameron Crowe Films and Musician Non-Boyfriends” last week, but now we’re going to talk about romanticization and respect in a different context.

Ever the consummate music (and musician lover, as it all blurs together) Penny decides that she’s going to follow Stillwater to New York after all, even knowing that she can’t be really with the band at that point. “I know his ex-wife/current girlfriend is going to be there.” she says non-chalantly, like she’s not even listening to how profoundly ridiculous that sounds. “You don’t know what he says to me in private. Maybe it is love.”

EXCEPT NO, you sweet, radiant angel. William bursts her bubble by announcing that Russell sold her to Humble Pie for $50 and a case of beer, and she nearly crumbles at that.

And know when to have good humor about your hopes being unceremoniously dashed against the rocks.

“What kind of beer?”

Sometimes following your heart and/or sticking around in a situation just makes you hurt more.

Despite William’s best efforts, Penny decides to fly out to New York anyway, and it is a fun catastrophe. Russell’s ex-wife/current girlfriend Leslie is keen on the situation and Penny’s lingering results in her being asked to leave. She doesn’t take it well. She’s arguing with Dick, she’s running out of the restaurant, she’s sobbing against a hand drier in the Five Star Bar bathroom so hard she thinks her chest will collapse…wait, no, that was something else.

The point is she should’ve listened to reason and not flown out there. She shouldn’t have stuck around for the sake of her pride, the sake of her music. She just should’ve not. But she did, and that’s why when William finds her she’s mainlining champagne and a bottle of quaaludes deep. “I am no good at good byes,” she quips.

Girl, I feel that.

Even when your seemingly invulnerable heart breaks, you can rise above it…with and without help.

Naturally William, ever the angel, has to get Penny’s stomach pumped, literally saving her with his love. And maybe you, gorgeous, tiny disaster in a blue dress, will end up getting kissed by someone else. Or you’ll find someone (or several someones) to drag you out of your intoxicated, heart-broken stupor. You’ll board a plane, go home. Board another plane, go to Morocco. No matter how it’s done, you’ll be able to heal and return to being your most grand self.

Part of being young is about taking ourselves on adventures beyond the real world. And whether we say we’re doing it for fun or for the music, inevitably you may find yourself in the middle of an emotional whirlpool. If this happens, please know that love is around you in unexpected ways. And hey, if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.

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