For the perfect plot twist to work on you, you have to feel afterward like you should have seen it coming, but you didn’t. As a result, when the big reveal happens, it blows you away.
If I know there is a twist in a plot – then, Game On. I’m like a hog snuffling after a truffle. Some (my wife) might say I have a problem.
During The Sixth Sense, I squirmed in my seat because I figured out early on that (Spoiler Alert!) Bruce Willis was dead. I leaned over to my wife (girlfriend at the time) and in a hoarse whisper asked if I could tell her what I had guessed. No, I could not. Drat. I was vibrating because I knew. Finally, a friend watching the movie in the theatre with us had mercy and said I could tell her. I bounced up from my seat like a kid who just got patted on the head and called “Goose!”
“Oh,” she said after I divulged. “Yeah. You’re probably right.”
Strange. there wasn’t the same level of excitement in her voice that I was hoping for. Weren’t we going to gleefully share this knowledge, lording it over those lesser beings who hadn’t figured it out? I realize now I stopped her from enjoying the twist, just because I had to prove how smart I was in figuring it out ahead of time. So, here, now, I’ll say it – sorry Lori. I don’t do this anymore to people. (Unless it’s a really good one and I…no, Chad, stop.)
My condition is likely a result of consuming too much fiction and cinema. I’ve now become a jaded reader/viewer where I’m always looking for the tricks the author/screenwriter is trying to pull. I admit, I didn’t figure out the end of the Usual Suspects, but that isn’t to say I didn’t spend the whole movie frustrated in trying to figure it out. My wife chides me about this, characterizing it as a flaw in my character, telling me to just lie back and enjoy the book or movie as it washes over me.
Pfffft. I remain blissfully unreformed. I simply don’t tell people if I’ve figured it out, but I know the truth inside. Twists? I’ve predicted a few.
But I’ll lay another one on you I didn’t figure out. It happened in real life with my youngest daughter on December 21, 2012. My wife and I had been told at her birth in September that she was born with a massive brain defect, and they couldn’t assure us she would rise above the level of vegetable, and could possibly be stuck in a bed forever. I pictured my wife and I huddled by her side, medical equipment forever blinking and bleeping around us, weary under the weight of this condition we could never have predicted (based on the two healthy, typical kids we already had).
Flash forward a few months to the 21st of December, now known as her “Miracle Day.” The great author of our lives had other plans. Doctors did a new scan on her brain and the disorder they told us she had – gone. A faulty MRI scan was the culprit. A new life opened before us, the greatest twist ever “written.”
And the signs were there, if I had bothered to look. The one that sticks out is a few weeks before we knew the results of the second MRI. I was sitting with her at the kitchen table, the corners of her mouth came up in a smile in response to my (admittedly persistent) clowning. That smile was more than I ever expected to see. She repeated that smile (with much less clowning from me) the next Sunday in church, and the woman who always sits behind us in church burst into tears seeing it.
Many little signs like that happened before the big reveal. And I’m a twist master! I should have seen it!
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. No twist can match that one. Hearing the doctor say – “She’ll likely be cognitively normal.” Nope, it isn’t dialogue written by Paddy Chayefsky or prose by Jane Austen, but it definitely did the trick.