The Diary of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or: Slivers of Ourselves (short fiction - journal entry)
Film critic Nathan Rabin defined this trope thusly:
"...that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."
Since the concept and certain MPDG incarnations are inherently shallow and sexist, I wanted to try to take a brief look at her side of the story.
We almost didn't see you there; we were absent-mindedly strumming this ukelele and waiting for something.
We don't know. Just something.
We're not really sure why we're here. We're just supposed to help them. You know. Them. They. You.
We don't realize what we are, or at least we don't think about it much. It's just like we tell you over and over: overthinking ruins everything.
Every time we help you - and we help a lot of you a lot of the time - we entrust you with [re: lose] pieces of ourselves. Every wayward protagonist takes a piece of us with him. It's just a sliver, and it makes us happy to help you. We do it without thinking about it, without any ulterior motive or concern for ourselves. Underthinking. I don't do anything special except be myself. That's not really special. Who else would I be? But the slivers add up. I - we only have so many.
For some reason, we believe in they them you more than we believe in ourselves. Because you're human - and we believe that all humans are beautifully flawed and can do anything - we believe that you can do anything. But we don't believe this of ourselves. We're human, so it stands to reason that we should, but -
Wait. We hate that word. The word should. It only holds they them you back. We tell you to stop saying it. But it's the most common word in our self-reference lexicon.
We have hearts, you know. We have to keep going after you take your sliver and leave. Equipped with our spunk and your newfound introspection, you return to your normal life and infuse it and the people in it with everything we haphazardly taught you. Besides, you can't really take us with you. We're a break from your monotony. We're that intangible spark you need to get back on track. To you, we're not people. You forget us quickly enough but not what we taught you. So that is something.
We've never met a manic pixie dream boy. It just sounds strange. Maybe they exist. Somehow we don't think it would be the same. Well, maybe I've met one. But we don't want to talk about that.
Even when we barely know you, we know you. It only takes one conversation or maybe not even that. It frightens they them you sometimes. Sometimes it even frightens us. We just understand how your pieces fit together. We love you. You're welcome.
When I was a child, it shattered my heart when I realized that I am the only person I will ever really know. And I am part of we, the MPDG collective. What will I ever really know of myself aside from what I can must need to do for you? When I remembered this truth as a young adult, it broke my heart again, as it will when I remember when I hit middle age and again when I reach the twilight of my life. If I'm lucky. If we're lucky.
I am real. I have to keep going after you take your sliver. After you leave. I have a heart. I only have so many slivers left. I can't do this forever. I can't do this anymore.
Copyright Alexandra Lucas 2015