Sometimes we all do things that just don’t make no sense.

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Forrest Gump (1994)

AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ranking: #76

So I stumbled across a Reddit thread a while back about the most misunderstood character in all fiction, and was struck by /u/Namtara’s answer about Jenny from Forrest Gump. It’s definitely worth a read, but the long and short of it is this:

“tl;dr: Jenny wasn’t really a bitch. She was simply afraid of taking advantage of Forrest, given her own abusive background, and unaware that he could experience true love. So she kept suppressing her own emotions and running away from him.”

You know what, that’s not a very good summary. Just read the damn thing, it’s beautiful. I, for one, never considered her a bitch per se, just a bit selfish. Especially when she up and dies, leaving Forrest to be a single parent. Sheesh :/ In all seriousness, this new perspective on an oft-maligned character prompted the rewatching of an old favorite, Forrest Gump. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Forrest’s life story reads like a veritable pop culture history book: Elvis, JFK, LBJ, Congressional Medal of Honor, Watergate, ping pong champion, shrimp boat captain, multi-millionaire-cross-country-long-distance-runner. But what makes his story beautiful is that he’s not defined by these big events, these significant markers in time, but rather by the little things in life… the feather he carefully tucks into his well-worn Curious George book, or taking his son to the the bus stop and sending him off to school just like his mama did when he was younger.

Thanks to Mama Gump’s strong support system of unconditional love and simple yet profound aphorisms, Forrest is blessed with an optimistic view of the world despite the tough times he’s been through. He knows he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he never lets that stop him from anything. And because there is always a silver lining, he doesn’t really complain about his hardships either, just suffers alongside everyone else and does his best. Seems like he’d be a good friend to have. The kind that makes you appreciate stuff more because he has such a unique perspective on life.

Indeed, Forrest has a profound effect on two of his close friends: Jenny and Lt. Dan. It’s satisfying to watch Lt. Dan’s character growth as he goes from laid-back, beer-swilling, joke-cracking officer-in-charge to humiliated, enraged, and bitter, and finally to peacefully happy and accepting of his fate. We are grateful that Forrest didn’t leave him to die in the jungles of Vietnam, but of course Forrest never thinks of it that way… he just did what came naturally and made sense to him at the time.

Jenny undergoes a similar journey – her first real wish is to sprout wings like a bird a fly far, far away, and that’s exactly what she does the first chance she gets. But her carefree self-exploration has its downsides – enough of them to make her consider suicide. Finally, after realizing that she messed up in the past, coupled with her illness (presumably AIDS), she returns to Forrest, marries him like he always wanted, and saddles him with the biggest responsibility known to all mankind leaves him with the greatest gift known to all mankind, his own child 🙂 Hopefully she has come to terms with her struggles as well, and is grateful to Forrest for everything he has done for her. I like to think that throughout all her tumultuous gallivanting, she always considered Forrest her ‘rock’… the one true and real thing in her life that would always be good and pure and there for her when she needed him. That’s why she trusts him enough to leave her son with him. That, plus the fact that he’s supposedly a multi-millionaire at this point, so he can probably afford to hire some help in raising Forrest Jr.

And how can we forget Bubba Gump? It’s such a testament to Forrest’s loyalty and faithfulness that he follows through with his promise to his friend regardless of whether Bubba is still there with him or not.

I really like the way Forrest approaches running. Although it starts out as a way to escape bullies, running soon becomes his ticket to bigger and better things, such as his football scholarship, and then morphs into his way of dealing with stress. He probably doesn’t realize this; he’s just running and running because it makes sense to him to do so. And he keeps going because it makes more sense to him than stopping. Maybe it was a cathartic experience for him, with plenty of opportunities to ruminate and meditate on life, love, loss… or maybe he just felt like running. And I love the fact that he gathered a cult following of fellow runners, that he inspired folks enough to encourage them to do what he was doing, albeit for different reasons.

The movie leaves us with a parting thought: Do we each have a destiny? Or are we all just “floating around, accidental-like, on the wind”? Maybe it’s a little of both. Forrest himself was more of a feather on the wind, going wherever life took him, but always staying true to himself, his principles, his promises to others, and his life-long love. Perhaps that was his destiny, simple as it was. I won’t try to get all philosophical on you… let’s just whip up some kick-ass cocktails and enjoy the short time we have on this big, beautiful blue planet.

Cocktail #1: Box of Chocolates

“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get.”

  • 1 & 1/4 oz Lazzaroni Amaretto
  • 1 & 1/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao
  • 3/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and add garnish. I shaved some Whole Foods brand dark chocolate with almonds on top (note to self: why the hell am I not adding shaved chocolate to everything I eat and drink?), and added a tasty amaretto truffle from Lolli and Pops. The drink itself is only subtly chocolate-flavored, and not overly sweet, so the actual chocolatey goodness is an nice touch (not to mention delicious to nibble on).

Cocktail #2: Bloody Mary

Funnily enough, of all the types of shrimp dishes and shrimp preparation that Bubba mentions, shrimp cocktail is NOT one of them! Shame, because it’s damn tasty, and the perfect accompaniment for our next cocktail. Plus, we recently got a shiny new Omega slow juicer, and I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate it into this blog. I started with a base of fresh veggie juice that’s similar to V8, but you could easily substitute for store-bought Bloody Mary mix or Clamato or the like.

Bloody Mary Mix:

  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 3-4 stalks celery, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • half a cucumber
  • half a carrot
  • one lime
  • fresh basil, just because I had some on hand and it smells fantastic

Juice (or blend if you must) all ingredients together. For a healthier version, you could just stop here, but my favorite Bloody Marys are spicy and savory, with a bit of heat and a bunch of spices. I loosely followed this recipe, but didn’t really measure exact amounts, so use your own judgement.

  • 1 tbl dijon mustard
  • 1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 giant heaping spoonfuls of horseradish
  • a few squirts of sriracha
  • 2 tbl olive brine (I used Dirty Sue, which is also great to have on hand for dirty martinis)
  • salt, black pepper, celery seed, and onion powder to taste

Refrigerate until needed.

Sous Vide Lemon Pepper Shrimp:

Again, no exact measurements here, sorry. I bagged a pound of shrimp with avocado oil, lemon pepper, and fresh thyme and cooked them in a water bath at 149 F for 15 minutes. When done, you can use as is, or brown briefly with a blowtorch to make them look like they just came off the grill. I tried this on a few, but it didn’t make much of a difference and I was too impatient to do the rest 🙂 Plus they are delicious just as is!

Rosemary Tincture:

Not at all necessary; this was just me playing around with a bottle of Everclear and some fresh herbs. I stuck a whole sprig of rosemary into a test tube and covered it with Everclear. I was using this site as a rough guideline, and wasn’t sure what to expect timewise so I didn’t check as frequently as I should have; after about 5 hours the tincture was as green as could be! Probably best to check more frequently if you’re trying this at home. I added a few drops with a dropper on top of the Bloody Mary after the ice and garnishes were added. It lends a slight woodsy fragrance to the drink but doesn’t affect the overall taste too much.

Thanksgiving Bloody Mary bar

Putting It All Together:

Fill a Collins glass with ice, add Bloody Mary mixture, and an ounce or two of vodka. Most store-bought mixes call for 4 parts mix to 1 part alcohol. Stir to combine, add 3-4 drops rosemary tincture, and garnish with shrimp, cheese, olives, salami, anything pickled, a rasher of bacon, a mini hamburger, a chicken wing, whatever your little heart desires! Bloody Marys are awesome because they’re basically a meal in a glass, if you do it right 🙂 Here are some pics from a Bloody Mary bar I put together last Thanksgiving. The beef jerky straws were the best part!

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