Stuck in another episode of middle-of-the-night sleeplessness last night, I turned to TCM to find that “Roman Holiday” was on. Forget space travel and wireless communications; I say the greatest achievement of our age is the availability, at 3 a.m., of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn to keep even the most miserable insomniac company.
Even better, I happened to turn the movie on right at the point where Peck, finding himself unable to sleep, leaves his apartment and goes out for a walk. I felt strangely reassured. That’s an example of what my hero Walker Percy would call a certification--the process whereby a movie confers a kind of psychic legitimacy on your otherwise ordinary existence. Granted, Peck couldn’t sleep because he had a heavily sedated Hepburn in his room, whereas my case was more your standard-issue middle-class-anxiety insomnia. Still, I felt Peck and I understood each other.
Today, though, I’m fighting an inexplicable urge to run out and buy a Vespa scooter.