When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a couple of weeks back its list of the five men up for best dude in a lead role, I couldn't help but be reminded of another, identically numbered, list. Do you know about the Freebie Five? Legend has it that this phrase was first heard on Friends - it's the list of hand-picked celebs that one is theoretically allowed to shag without consequence from his or her partner, should the opportunity ever arise.
Now, long ago, a girlfriend of mine happened to come within two degrees of separation from one of her five and although I had never signed any document stating this list was actually legitimate, she claimed it was within her rights to have sex with him. It ended our relationship. Okay, it didn't. She never had the chance to sleep with him and later insisted she wouldn't have.
Nonetheless, in the spirit of immature revenge, and addressing all you guys out there whose girl has one of this year's Oscar nominees on her list, here is my expert analysis of where her warped sexual longings may be coming from.
Some people have a God complex - where, in a delusional state, one thinks one is infallible (as opposed to knowing that one is, as I do) - and other people, including your girl, have a God groupie complex. Not only was Freeman the lordly voiceover for March of the Penguins, but he quite convincingly played the supreme being himself in the Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty, as well as its sequel. In Invictus, he's not God - this time, he's only Nobel Peace Prize winner and icon of superhuman forgiveness Nelson Mandela. In any case, your girl's lust for Freeman represents an over-attachment to saintliness, a misguided idealism that makes her believe in a perfection that exists only as an abstract concept for, in truth, there is no man more perfect than you. If she doesn't recognize this fact and it should later lead to a break-up, you can be consoled by remembering that Freeman recently went through his second divorce. That's right, even God has women troubles.
It's quite cliché, your girl's thing for the man who is in love with danger. A fearless and incomparably skilled bomb squad sergeant, Renner's character in The Hurt Locker is the ultimate alpha male. The fact that she is lusting after him is a sure sign of daddy issues - or in psychoanalytic parlance, she has an Electra Complex. She wants someone to be big and strong for her like her father was - or wasn't - when she was a child. But while Renner's character can defuse every kind of explosive without breaking a sweat, he can't handle the minefield of love and is like a child himself in the presence of his wife. This reality is smoke-screened by your girl's subconscious, however, and her longing to be embraced by a figure of ultimate decisiveness in the face of death highlights the fact that she views herself as unable to make the right decisions in her own life. She'd be wrong, of course. She chose you, didn't she?
If she is hot for Jeff Bridges, the woman in your life is the fixer-upper type. She is under the impression that her love can heal any broken or wayward man. I'm thinking particularly of Bridges' roles as a traumatized shock jock in The Fisher King and as the Dude in The Big Lebowski. (Some might argue the Dude is the male embodiment of Zen perfection, though I doubt many women would see it this way.) Bridges' aging alcoholic character in Crazy Heart manages to woo Maggie Gyllenhaal, a pretty awesome feat - she's been on my list since Secretary - and she does inspire him to clean up his act. Perhaps previously in your own relationship, in the days before you became the paragon of all that is good and outstanding, your girl had to patch up a few foundation cracks and now her desire for Bridges is a sign that you've become a little too sturdy. You might consider going off on a John Lennonesque lost weekend of boozing and screwing around, thus generously providing her with a new challenge. You know, just doing what you have to do to keep her around.
So she has George Clooney on her list. Big surprise! As well as being hugely unoriginal, your sweetheart has a subconscious desire to be played. She is attracted to the most famous figure of female connoisseurship because she wants to be considered a rarefied object selected to be consumed by a man of impeccable taste. (Come to think of it, this might be good for you). Of course, in the end, nobody really wants to be played. She probably harbours a sub-subconscious wish to play the player, to be the femme fatale that shatters his heart, a turnaround that was rendered quite believable by Clooney in Up in the Air. Um … good luck with that one!
I'm sorry to have to inform you of this, but I'm afraid the woman in your life suffers from Unrealistic Romance Disorder, a psychological virus propagated by Hollywood producers and John Cusack to keep themselves rich while simultaneously putting great strain on the majority of relationships in North America. There's no question that the disease struck her long before Firth's turn as a grieving gay man in The Single Man. She wishes that, à la Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones's Diary, you would show up unexpectedly every day - see the paradox here? - and gallantly declare your undying love. You've enacted the grand romantic gesture on specially chosen occasions, but her debilitating fantasy of being persistently wooed blinds her to the fact that, as the uninfected know, sometimes love means sitting on the couch watching TV, or washing the dishes. Which reminds me, you better get to those dishes.
Micah Toub's memoir, Growing Up Jung: Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks, will be published in the fall.