Navigating the Opportune Moment
Girl Meets World
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 14:01
When I was in the sixth grade, I became completely obsessed with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. As in during the month of April, I watched it every day. Every. Day. My older brother was going through a phase where he made us watch movies with closed captioning, so I quickly learned every word. Every. Word. I am not exaggerating at all. I watched it every single day for a month with my brothers when we came home from school, and I actually knew every single word.
Looking back, I have to wonder what made me love this movie so obsessively. A large draw was Orlando Bloom, my first celebrity crush. The walls of my middle school bedroom were covered in photos of him. Oh, to be young and in love with my first British actor again.
It’s a good movie, something that the three mediocre sequels might have made you forget. What makes it work is that it’s not just action — it’s a comedy. It has sword fights and a love story and a bit of magic, but in the end, it’s just funny. It’s also where I learned the word superfluous and the best way to refuse something (“I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request”).
Pirates brings up an interesting idea: the opportune moment and when you know it’s here. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) first mentions it to playfully excuse his inaction — he’s waiting for the opportune moment. Later, when Will Turner (my beloved Bloom) doesn’t confess his love for Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) after the climactic battle scene, Jack repeats himself, saying, “If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.”
Because this is a movie, there are a few moments that would have been perfect for Will to expose his feelings. But Jack is right in saying after they beat all the zombie pirates, he probably should have opened up, before she returned to her stuck-up fiance.
I’ve realized that the opportune moment is essential to most of pop culture. I think of “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees, a song that discusses the opportune moment In Love Actually, every second of the Christmas season is the opportune moment to declare your love, a dubious claim that only works onscreen. In Harry Potter, people tend to view battles as the opportune moment to declare their feelings — the love of Lupin and Tonks (my favorite characters) is revealed right after Dumbledore’s death, and Ron and Hermione share their first kiss amid the battle of Hogwarts.
In the “real world,” identifying the opportune moment takes a lot more energy, and I’m way more likely to be wrong. More often, I falsely identify the opportune moment than I am to act on it at the right time.
In movies and television shows, there’s usually rain or an intimate glance or two people screaming at each other. Maybe it’s New Year’s Eve, or someone is flying far away, never to return. In Pirates, Will finally declares his love for Elizabeth after he saves Jack from the gallows, and while he’s wearing a very fancy hat.
In real life, I divulge my feelings in weird handwritten notes, text messages, Gchats or, perhaps most awfully, through the gossip grapevine. Granted, that last one is because I can’t keep my own secrets, but still. That’s definitely not the “opportune moment” of which Jack was speaking.
But I don’t falter in just my romantic encounters. I’m not exactly skilled at finding the opportune moment with my friends either. I start intense conversations in texts, never know the right time to hug a sad person (partially because I think every time is perfect for a hug!) and tell people “I love you” at inappropriate times.
I like to think my timing is off because I’m an open book, always willing to share my affections, but maybe I just lack the social grace in this area that other people have mastered. Other people don’t ask people they barely know if they’d like to be best friends, but other people are more boring than I am. They also have fewer best friends.
What I’m saying is that maybe the opportune moment only exists in movies. Or maybe it does exist in real life, but it’s not worth waiting for. Or maybe I just need to be less socially awkward. It’s probably the last one.
Victoria Edel is a junior in the College. GIRL MEETS WORLD appears every other Friday in the guide.