So uh... Rick Perry huh?
All I'm saying about him right now is that I'm mortified to share a biographical bullet point with him that I consider to be important-- we're both Eagle Scouts.
Though when I got Eagle, I had to demonstrate that I gave a shit about my fellow human beings, and also that I had any clue how America works. But then again, I come from lib'rul Massachusetts, where most people (referred to colloquially as non-subscribers of the Boston Herald) think that we should expect adults to read above a fourth grade level.
In any case, one could be forgiven for wanting to talk about cartoons instead of the brutish realities of this foul month in the American experiment. Lately, it's been impossible for me to get enough Adventure Time.
Set after what is known colloquially as the Great Mushroom War, which caused fundamental changes in the rules that govern Earth (now known as the Land of Ooo), it follows the adventures of Finn, a thirteen year-old human believed to be the last of his kind, and Jake, a 28 year-old magic dog whose parents raised Finn as their own.
The land is full of lifeforms unlike any on pre-apocalyptic Earth. Sentient candy people, floating purple clouds who speak like androgynous Valley girls, small elephants with faces like Peppermint Pattie, monsters, wizards, flying unicorns who speak Korean, and all manner of anthropods that aren't quite human, but who may have descended from humans. Littered about the landscape are artifacts of the world's previous inhabitants, none of which are fully understood by the current ones. Technology is of the cargo cult variety, as while Finn carries a portable phone, he also carries a sword.
The world's operating mechanics are familiar to anyone who's played Dungeons and Dragons.
Yeah, big surprise that I watch this show. It's deliciously absurd, playfully disturbing, and above all, smart.
And I feel a strange sort of kinship to Finn. He's literally one of a kind, living in a world that doesn't always make sense, with no direction home and few who he can truly relate to. He gets by (gets high; tries) with a little help from his friends, who are many, but few of whom actually get him. Indeed, even his adoptive brother-cum- hetero lifemate Jake sometimes has trouble understanding what it's like to be Finn.
He's brave, clever (though not as educated as might be desired), unfailingly loyal, and inexhaustibly curious. Which serves him well in this strange world, which contains monsters and barbarians and dungeons and quests enough to keep the existential angst at bay.
He spends a non-trivial portion of his time rescuing princesses from the Ice King, a sorcerer who seems to have gotten the idea that kidnapping and imprisonment in a frozen cage is a normal part of courtship. But even when they aren't in need of rescuing, Finn takes it upon himself to tend to the needs of all princesses, whether that includes throwing a movie night to stave off boredom, or helping them record a new song. Princesses seem to make up about 85% of the female population in the Land of Ooo, and they all love Finn.
He's happy to help anyone (even non-Princesses) at any time, but he's the most devoted to Princess Bubblegum, the eighteen year-old ruler of the candy kingdom who seems to have some human DNA but whose biomass is made up of candy. At the end of Season 2, he underwent the struggle of his life in a quest to save her from the grips of an ancient and terrible Lich. He succeeded, but only just, and the wasting sickness that came as a result of her exposure to all of that nastiness reduced her biomass, having the result of (somehow) reverting her to a thirteen year-old. Which brings us to this episode, the first one in which Finn interacts with the thirteen year-old Princess Bubblegum.
The episode is here, should you want to check it out. I had it embedded, but Cartoon Network doesn't seem to get the point of it being the future. It's just over ten minutes.
This episode aired last Monday, when I was still out for blood over the S&P downgrade, which I took as a declaration of war. But the ending took my mind off of it, because something about it struck me close to home.
Finn had been in love with Princess Bubblegum since the day he first met her, but as an eighteen year-old princess with grown-up responsibilities, she's not exactly approachable. She cares deeply for Finn, and indeed it was the power of her affection for him-- imbuded in the sweater she knitted to protect him from the cold of the Lich's lair-- which allowed him to break the curse that threatened her very existence. But there was a barrier between them because of their difference in age and circumstances.
Now that she's thirteen, Finn isn't quite so alone in this strange land. And they both seem to be at their happiest. Naturally, it doesn't last. For the good of her people, the Princess needs to be her eighteen year-old self again. With the donated candyflesh of he loyal subjects and a massive love-hug from Finn to act as a catalyst, she manages to age five years in a matter of seconds. In one instant, she's being revived by the warm glow of his affection, and in the next, she's shrugging him off because she has better things to do.
And the real kicker is, she can't really be blamed for it. Princess Bubblegum experienced the past five years in an instant, and is thus rightly puzzled as to why that weird little kid (cute though he is) thinks that they're still a Thing.
TV and movies tend to depict messy breakups, wrought of anger and betrayal, but my experience tends to line up more with Finn's. I've never really had a "breakup" per se; just cessations of intimacy. Often abruptly and without obvious cause. It's jarring. It leaves some questions that are never answered, and some that feel too stupid to ever ask. And even though I'm more than happy with my current situation, the dull thud of each unheralded departure continues to echo faintly in my mind, years after the fact.
For Finn, there are still adventures to be had, monsters to fight, and princesses to champion for (including Princess Bubblegum). Indeed, there are for me too, if not literally. But I couldn't help but feel a bittersweet melancholy wash over me as I saw Finn gaze longingly at the turret at near top of the Candy Castle whence Princess Bubblegum overlooked her domain.
It's a quality seen in the finest art, whatever the medium. I owe Pendleton Ward a beer.