You’re Out of Your Tree


I was reminded tonight of a couple of lines of dialogue that I love.

The reminder was this friend who was telling a story about missing the bus. He’d taken great care and a long subway ride to get to the bus stop. He’d timed the whole operation carefully so he’d make it to his meeting on time. But the bus pulled up, admitted passengers, and closed its door before he could board. He smacked his hands on the side of the bus to get the driver to open back up. The driver paid him no attention. So he blew up, pounded the plexiglass wall of the bus shelter, and cursed.

A homeless woman asked him what was wrong and he explained that he’d missed his bus. She replied, “Well, I guess it isn’t your bus, because you aren’t on it.”

He took that as a message from God and the universe and has not had a bus-missing tantrum since. So he says.

So it reminded me of the movie Benny & Joon (1993), in which two people with unspecified mental irregularities find each other and have a little romance. Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) is riding in a car with her brother Benny (Adrian Quinn) when they pass a tree, in which her new friend Sam (Johnny Depp) is perched. Later, she encounters him on the ground. Their conversation goes as follows.

Joon: “You’re out of your tree.”
Sam: “It wasn’t my tree.”

And that’s that. I love those two lines of dialogue. Not only are they funny because both characters are speaking so literally, but also Sam completely sidesteps the colloquial meaning of the phrase that would imply he’s crazy. I suppose you could say he acknowledges he lives in a slightly different reality than the one where people use “tree” as a euphemism for sanity. I suppose you could has he as a healthy detachment from the need to be seen in a certain way. I suppose you could just enjoy the idea of a grown man innocent and odd enough to hunch on a tree branch in public. I don’t know what the significance is. I just love that he has no shame about living life on a different wavelength. I like that about the whole film. It’s about acceptance.

What this has to do with missing buses, I don’t know.

Wait. Yes I do.

London bus stop swing designed by designer Bruno Taylor

London bus stop swing designed by designer Bruno Taylor


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