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15 May 2011

The Chaser: Oh Roger!

Mr. Roger Shackleforth. Age: youthful twenties. Occupation: being in love. Not just in love, but madly, passionately, illogically, miserably, all-consumingly in love, with a young woman named Leila who has a vague recollection of his face and even less than a passing interest. In a moment you’ll see a switch, because Mr. Roger Shackleforth, the young gentleman so much in love, will take a short but very meaningful journey into the Twilight Zone.Opening to The Chaser Twilight Zone, 1960.

Roger was so sure that Leila was the girl for him. He obsessed about her. He dreamed about her. He pursued her. Leila found Roger to be droll, boring and tells him to “take a flying jump at the moon.” After Leila hung up on Roger when he called her from a public telephone, a man who heard him begging Leila gave Roger a card. The man at the telephone booth told Roger the man found at the address on the card can solve all his problems. Roger enters a dusty potion shop where a man is placing potions on a high shelf. After some banter Roger reveals that he is in love and Leila does not love him in return. The man at the potion shop offers to sell Roger some “glove cleaner” for $1,000 but Roger refuses. He insists on purchasing the love potion for $1.

Roger shows up unannounced at Leila’s door with flowers and champagne. He begs his way into her apartment. Leila agrees to just one drink of champagne but then he must leave. When Leila leaves the room he pours the love potion into her champagne. The potion works and Leila falls madly in love with him. Roger and Leila get married. She is fawning over him. Lights his cigarettes. Pours his drink. Rubs his back. Rubs his feet. She can not keep her hands off him. Leila rubs against him on the sofa declaring her undying love. She is smothering him with her love. Roger cannot get a moment of peace.

Roger heads to the potion shop. The shop keeper has been expecting him to return. Roger makes some small talk, but the shop keeper knows why he has returned. The shop keeper shows him a bottle of “glove cleaner.” If Roger wants to be free of Leila he must purchase the “glove cleaner” that is the antidote to the love potion. After some hesitation, Roger hands over a check for $1,000. He returns home with champagne and sneaks the antidote into Leila’s champagne glass. Leila shows Roger some baby booties that she has been knitting. Roger drops the champagne glasses spilling the wine and the antidote.

Roger, like most people, thought he knew what he wanted. Leila was all he wanted. If he could just have Leila love him, his life would be perfect. He discovered, much to his chagrin, that he did not know that the thing he so desperately desired would make him utterly miserable. It was too late when he finally worked up the courage to change his situation. There are many things in life that we think we cannot live without. We work day and night toward goals that we think will make us happy. When we achieve that which we so desperately desire, we are often devastated to learn that the novelty wears off and the thing we loved becomes like a millstone around the neck. That person or thing that you think you need cannot make you happy. More often than not you end up trapped and more miserable than ever. Look inside yourself to find happiness.

First the stimulant, then the chaser.


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