One of my favorite moments in Jaws has nothing to do with a giant shark attacking people. It’s a slow, quiet scene in a dining room between a police chief who’s had a really bad day, and his young son responding to his father’s brooding by imitating his oh-so serious countenance. Eventually the father notices and a bit of a game plays out, and by the end Chief Brody might not be entirely cheered up, but you can see him remembering and contemplating that there are still good things in the world.
There are no explosions. There is no blood. There is only the most tangential relation to the main storyline. Nothing earth-shattering is revealed about anyone… a father and son care about each other? The mother watching on is charmed by their antics? Big whoop. And yet Spielberg recognized that cutting it would have been a criminal act. It’s somehow magically both completely off-topic and yet completely crucial to the narrative.
I don’t claim to possess anything approaching that level of instinct, but somewhere along the line I composed a scene where Chuck tries to share his stash of old sweets with Rosa, and it felt right. A reader might well ask what the hell this has to do with zombie ranching, perhaps even going so far as to declare their time is being wasted with inconsequential padding. Well, maybe. Come to think of it, I may have gone over this exact same argument before, when I brought up the idea that not every Chekhov’s Gun has to fire.
That entry is getting on towards three years old, now, and oddly enough predates some of the “guns” that have gone off, such as the lawn flamingo playing a role in the Zane/McCarty confrontation, the Z Tracker, or the thought of the siege house moat being filled with zombies. Does that mean Chuck’s jar of honey will be playing a vital narrative role in the months to come? I’ll let you speculate if you want, but I wouldn’t think too hard on it. Right now it just stands as some more (hopefully entertaining) interaction between Chuck and Rosa, and I’m content to offer that up since I’m still of a mind to think it serves a purpose. It might seem off-topic, but Jaws made moments like these work, I think precisely because they possessed a certain organic feel that gets an audience invested in the characters as real people rather than just human-shaped enablers of plot.
That and the whole honey thing is pretty fascinating. So thanks, Chuck, for again serving as my human-shaped enabler of factoids. When you’re involved it seems like nothing’s off-topic at all.