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Published on February 7th, 2011 | by travors

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The Thinking Place

If, like me, you grew up on staple diet of 80s movies then you’re probably already familiar with The Thinking Place. If not, watch a bunch of 80s movies and you’ll begin to recognise a gradual series of events that lead up to The Thinking Place, something like this:

Boy from the wrong side of the tracks meets upper middle class girl with over protective father (preferably ex-army and still sporting the crew cut). Over protective father doesn’t want Johnny-blue-jeans anywhere near his beautiful (if a little wishy washy), porcelain, academically gifted daughter.

Jon CryerDuckie (Jon Cryer) visits The Thinking Place in Pretty in Pink.

First: The father tries to bribe the boy to stay away, but Johnny’s honour is strong and his love true.
Second: He threatens the boy to stay away, but with love in his heart Johnny has no fear, even when grabbed by the scruff of his scrawny neck and flung out the door into a rose bush.
Finally: He locks up his daughter in some fashion and when the resilient (and let’s face it, slightly dim) boy calls, he is told she doesn’t want to see him anymore.

Boy rings and rings, but she never answers (phone has been confiscated).
Boy is in despair.
Boy is lost in a deep melancholy ocean of emotions.
Boy goes to The Thinking Place.

It might be a little pier overlooking a lake, a tire swing hanging from an old oak tree, a bench on a hill with a view of a neon bathed town, or a small wall for leaning on while looking out to sea (a gentle wind will of course tousle hair in slow motion). The serious thinking happens here, it’s a slow process, requiring a soundtrack of tortured electric guitar with a slowly ticking drum beat, presumably to signify the passing of time (and not the slow rusted clockwork of our hero’s brain). Then after some time a divine answer registers on Johnny’s face and he’ll nod his head in understanding, perhaps with a clenched and slowly shaken fist.

You know the rest, you know this movie. Boy climbs a tree to dizzy girl’s window and together they persuade the furious father that their love is true. And besides, Johnny–blue-jeans can get him a discount on an oil change and tire rotation at the garage he undoubtedly works at.

Lost In TranslationCharlotte (Scarlett Johansson) visits The Thinking Place in Lost in Translation (A 2003 Thinking Place).

As a dutifully self absorbed teenager I was always on the look out for an emotionally tortured situation that would give me the opportunity to go to The Thinking Place. My Thinking Place was a little spot on a coastal path, overlooking Dublin bay. I had to walk two miles to get there, then I’d light up a cigarette and try to tune out the little old ladies behind me walking their dogs, with pooper scoopers clenched in their mitten-clad hands.

But the thing is, the point of all this is, once there I always encountered the same problem: The Thinking Place was unbelievably boring. And I could never think of a damned thing to resolve whatever flimsy excuse I’d come up with to go there, partially because my dilemma was usually so unsubstantial it didn’t warrant a solution in the first place and partially because I was a moderately dull-witted lad. Also, it was always bloody freezing and always on the verge of a brutal rainstorm.

As I stood there trying to keep my stupid floppy hair from blowing onto the end of my cigarette, invariably my thoughts would turn to how cool my little brother’s Nintendo Gameboy was and how nice it would be to play Tetris on it for a few hours. Eventually the temptation would get too much for me and I’d turn and scamper the two miles home. The whole decision process usually took about three minutes.

Well I guess it was thinking of a sort.

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About the Author

Dan Walsh is a musician, artist, nerd and cubicle dweller from Dublin, Ireland. In early 2008 Dan started the webcomic GarfieldMinusGarfield.net which went on to become one of the most celebrated blogs of 2008. It has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, The Washington Post & The New Yorker. He received a book deal with Ballantine Books and Garfield Minus Garfield the book was released in late 2008. His personal blog is travors.com.



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