Even now I can look back and remember, little girl, how hot you were. Two years older than me at the time, so it’s not weird. I guess you still are two years older than me. Twelve years old, probably, when they filmed the movie. I was eleven when it came out. Had already read the book. Thought they made a mistake in casting you, before I saw the film, because the book had your character younger than Tim, and the book always knows best (I assumed). At least, I knew I liked the book, so why mess with success. I didn’t notice how none of the female characters were particularly strong or interesting, or even so much more than dinosaur bait. The kind of character you want to see get eaten, and gruesomely, if possible.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t even like you in the movie much. At least not the first half. I thought of you the way I thought about girls, the way I tolerated dance recital after dance recital, by picking out my favorite one to look at and being amazed by boobs. You didn’t have boobs yet. Pre-boobs, though. Interesting but not fucking fascinating. Plus you claimed to be vegetarian and I found that stuck-up and annoying, and against the whole aesthetic of the movie, a statement on how the difference between humans and food ain’t so very much, and here you are, can’t stomach a little goat violence, a little bacon with your eggs just because the bacon once walked around and had emotions. You pussy. And who in the hell “prefer(s) to be called a hacker,” huh? Such a crass verb. Like calling a carpenter a wood-banger.
I didn’t like how you took away Tim’s computer fluency, because I really liked Tim in the book, I thought he was a great character, I want to say probably I saw him as an analog for myself, but I don’t remember much more than the emotion, that I liked him. I only know he was the older one, eleven instead of nine, and that he was wicked smart for his age, which made him annoying to Dr. Grant, who was much more likely the character I most identified with. Easily annoyed. Awkward with women. Smart in an esoteric kind of way, so that you don’t have to give a damn about anyone else, because caring is exhausting.
So here you are, stealing half the relevance from one of my favorite characters and pissing off the other, and I don’t even like looking at you, with your stupid purple hat, your whole body solidly walking the line between child and adult which only reminds me how much more awkward I’m getting by the day, by the moment, and I have to think about that way too often so I don’t need the reminder in my big screen entertainment, thanks.
But then you got mud on you.
When you crawled out from beneath that crushed Ford Explorer and sat up on your knees and screamed in terror, it was like a whole new person had just joined the cast.
He left us. He left us.
I was buying all of that. An inexplicable focus on a relatively small detail compared to the fucking dinosaur trying to bite you in half. Some guy getting out of the car. Someone who couldn’t have helped defend you in any case, and your first words after you get words back are about him. He who no longer exists but as future dino poo.
The mud suited you much more than the pretend kid clothes, you were too adult for the role so they dressed you down in age with the purples and the purples and the logoless ball cap. In the mud, you were raw, you were a person in touch with fear, and I didn’t think it was just acting. You got beautiful on me, real quick, totally unexpectedly, I was getting mind boners for you for the rest of the movie.
A couple-five years later you star in Ben Folds Five’s video for “Brick,” a cheery little number about taking a high school girlfriend to get an abortion, and you barely even show your face. Acting is not self-expressive enough for you, too dependent on someone else to make your art. So you make your art. Like, art-art. Portrait painting, landscapes, you went and got your MFA and now people commission you to create photo-realistic likenesses of them holding flowers and sitting in fields and if they’re smiling it’s because they don’t know any better. But most people do know better. So most of the people you paint look quietly amused or interested in something they wouldn’t talk to you about even if you asked about it specifically. Your eyes are a little too sharp. You see too much in faces, too deeply into the souls, and if you painted what you saw there no one would pay you for that favor. So there’s something just a touch fake about these paintings. They tell a truth, but not the whole truth.
I don’t know when you learned this, but there was a hint of it in you as a little scrawny teenager, and I found that shit irresistible, and I wanted to learn it from you all of a sudden, I wanted you specifically to teach me. Why do things sometimes look more perfect when they’re a little fucked up? Why does it feel right, sometimes, to be afraid? What else have Disney movies been lying to me about??
Anyway. There yet remains that little thrill for me in the second half of the movie. I can still remember that attraction. I can feel it in the mud.