Newsflash for Happy, Happy Zooey Deschanel
My crush on Zooey Deschanel has ended—not because of that squabble she had with L.A. Weekly but because she appears to have a quality that makes us incompatible: She’s a happy person.
I should’ve known. She hasn’t gotten any ill-advised tattoos, showed her skidaddle to the paparazzi, been photographed slurping on a crack pipe or even had an innocuous wardrobe malfunction. In fact, this spat with reporter Patt Morrison is the biggest Zooey scoop anyone’s ever had, and it’s all because she said a few unkind words about downtown L.A. when comparing it to other parts of L.A. Tracy Morgan, she’s not.
I first saw Deschanel in Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe’s film about being a young music critic for Rolling Stone. I thought she was absolutely gorgeous, with those big blue eyes and dark hair and that deep purr. Here’s a clip.
She’s still spectacular today. Just look at her on the latest issue of SELF magazine, where she’s a perfect mix of innocence and beauty. Her necklace, in the shape of two musical notes, is like something you’d get at a fourth-grade piano recital. Her famously azure eyes are even more so. The seafoam-green neckline of the dress accentuates her perfectly sized breasts—not too big, not too small, just two lovely handfuls (or so I presume).
But the article is pretty upsetting for the morosely inclined. I was hoping to learn something tragic about her, maybe that her new sitcom is an antidote for psychic pain. But, well, perhaps it’s best to quote:
Besides singing and acting, Deschanel, 31, tweets, bakes, blogs, writes, plays the ukulele and still makes time to relax in front of the TV (she likes Bravo’s Top Chef) with her husband, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. And she does it all with the attitude “Don’t overthink. If it feels right, do it!”
Her trick to not getting bored with workouts isn’t—as I’d hoped—to stop exercising altogether and eat a magic bean. It’s a hula hoop. Deschanel told SELF, “I can hula hoop for hours!”
She’s starting a comedy website called HelloGiggles. She loves butterflies. She believes everyone should have a theme song that “makes them feel like a million dollars.” She wants listeners of her (very boring) music to feel “sunny” when they hear it.
If I like a female actor, she’s in cool films and she seems intelligent, I assume she’s depressed and hates herself at least 50 percent of the time. Take Kate Winslet. She’s beautiful and famous but you can absolutely imagine her sobbing over a two-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper and an enormous bowl of chips, with her fingernails bitten down into little nubs. Same with Rachel Weisz and Catherine Keener. These are people who sometimes think to themselves, “It really is exhausting, this life thing.” I suspect their theme songs are in minor keys. (My song is a dirge.)
I find misery endearing. Happiness, on the other hand, confuses me. It’s like the girls from Springside who came to my high school for field-hockey matches. These tall, sleek-haired beings would glide, sylph-like, across the field—all laughter and braces and Gatorade. Such good posture, as though the world was waiting. We don’t belong on the same planet, I’d think. And that’s kind of how it is—I now learn—with Zooey and me.
One of the best things about Almost Famous is its soundtrack, including, in that clip above, “America” by Simon & Garfunkel. There’s a moment in that song where the narrator talks to his traveling companion even though he knows she’s asleep. He says, “Kathy, I’m lost … I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.” That moment encapsulates what life is about for sad people: We hide our ache from our traveling companions, then whisper the truth when no one can hear.
Zooey is just too goddamned perky for whispers.
I guess my crush can only be resurrected now by unpleasant rumors: She’s cutting, battling an eating disorder or leaving her show due to “exhaustion.” In the meantime, I’ll forever be traumatized by the image of her holding a butterfly in SELF.
Which makes sense, in an odd way. A few years ago a SELF editor asked me to contribute a first-person essay about triumphing over mental illness. I sent it in. A few weeks later, they told me they weren’t going to run it. Why not? Too depressing.