When I started writing weekly newspaper columns, Ronald Reagan was the U.S. president, Mikhail Gorbachev was the Soviet Premier, Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady in the U.K and Brian Mulroney was Canada’s Prime Minister. The year was 1987.
I typed on an electric typewriter and columns were sent by mail to the four newspapers that featured my Rural Routes column. I wrote about farming and agriculture. Free trade with the Americans was a hot topic as was Canada’s supply management system. It was in the second year of writing columns that I received a letter from a woman who chastised me for ignoring Valentine’s Day. She wrote: I read your farm columns every week even though I’m not a farmer but on the week of Valentine’s Day I don’t want to be reading farm stuff.
I took her advice to heart and focused on love and romance for that special day in the winter. From a back of the room seat in a movie theatre I watched couples come in and noticed it was the women who decided where to sit. I wrote about that. I quizzed long-married couples how they got along, what’s the secret to staying happy and content. I did surveys asking couples what is their favourite something or other. And some years I would give my review on an interesting movie that has a farm theme and good romance in it. I consider myself an expert in that field as I have always been a movie buff.
A few months ago I saw a 1987 movie starring Diane Keaton that I hadn’t seen before. Ms. Keaton is one of my favourite actresses. The movie is called Baby Boom but I would call it: “You’re a what . . . a veterinarian?” Sam Shepard stars as Dr. Jeff Cooper, the veterinarian. The movie is hilarious because Ms. Keaton is so fired-up in two scenes that it will make you double up with laughter.
Keaton plays J.C. Wiatt, a successful New York business woman and lives with her boyfriend. When a distant cousin dies, she inherits an orphaned 11-month old baby. Her boyfriend doesn’t like children and moves out and Keaton sees an ad of a rural property with an apple orchard for sale in Vermont that has a large charming house. She quits her job because she can’t get good babysitters and thinks country living is better for her and baby Elizabeth. She buys the farmhouse from a real estate agent in Vermont site unseen. By winter, she is strapped with escalating repairs needed to her new home, running out of money and patience, and overwhelmed with loneliness and no boyfriend.
The last straw for her is when there’s no water coming from the kitchen sink. She calls a neighbour who wears a plaid jacket and a plaid cap. He goes down in the well and tells her the well is dry. “Oh, I thought it might be something serious,” says Keaton. “We can fill it up, because there’s a hose out back of the house.”
The man tells her it’s not that simple. “Lady, you’re out of water!” Keaton has a nervous breakdown when he tells her the water facts. She yells at the man, walks back and forth swinging her arms and screams, “I’m not Paul Bunyan. I’ve had it with whiskers and plaids. I want to go back to civilization.” She is so infuriated that she faints and falls backwards.
Next thing she wakes up in what she thinks is a doctor’s office after seeing Sam Shephard in a while lab coat. The neighbour had brought her to his friend, the veterinarian. She bares her soul to Shephard and tells him, “I’m so lonely doc.” When a horse neighs nearby she asks what that was and he tells her that’s my next patient coming in as a man leads in a horse. Keaton screams at the doctor when she realizes he isn’t a medical doctor and yells, “You’re a what . . . a veterinarian?
She storms out of the room and opens the first door she sees leading into a room where a big sow is on an operating table. It’s hilarious. You wonder how many takes they had to do to get that scene so perfect.
There’s a happy ending. Of course. It’s a perfect Valentine’s Day movie and great entertainment.
This movie includes references to sexual relations. Review Parents’ Guide online at the Internet movie database at imdb.com. Maynard van der Galien is a Renfrew-area farmer and agriculture columnist.