Wake Me up When September Ends: Alfie’s Story and Mine

by on April 2nd, 2006

Alfie has everything. Yes, everything. He has the face of Jude Law, complete with the bone structure, bristle, a rugged-boy blondness, and eyes that look green on the average East Coast television set. It follows therefore, that he has the accent of an Englishman, which of course is a pan-continental winner of hearts in its calculated, measured, sane, and seductive enunciation and inflection of erotic panache.

Additionally Alfie has a nice car, a suave wardrobe, and plenty of cash. He is in fact, the magazine cut-out of the metropolitan man. The Post-Modern Metropolitan Man.

He holds in his girdle, as it were, the seduction of post-modern masculinity perfected in the crisp primness of aesthetic self-reflection, a pleasing tweak of narcissism, an airy self-confidence, and a breezy sense of freedom whose vista is as grand, as high, as sprawling, and as accesible as the view from the 35th floor of a chic sky rise, piercing vertically the firmament of the post-modern universe.

For this sky rise has ascended over the doldrums and dilemmas of common men, paltry men; the petty scuffles and penny pinching of the bourgeoisie, the aimless swaggering of the robust young stud who works at minimum wage at a shoe store and moonlights as a giggolo, the penile dysfunction of aging bureaucrats and frustrated professionals, and the antisocial loneliness and lard induced cynicism of the morbidly obese, or those who feel morbidly obese. In a post-modern universe where the flower of youth is incarnated into idols, Alfie is young. The sky rise ascends into the ether like a giant Post-Modern Phallus, erected.

What does a metropolitan man, so liberated, so completely attained, so brisk do with his freedom? He does what any man in his designer shoes would do. He womanizes.

This is the story of the womanizing Alfie, in a movie appropriately called, Alfie: a 2004 remake of a 1966 movie by the same name. It is the same story set in a post-modern universe. What began in the 60s as chic in the 2000’s had acquired the permanency and couture of class. It resonates in the taints and transmutations of the Industrial era, invoking Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Theodore Dreiser’s epic, ‘An American Tragedy’.

The story goes this way: Alfie cannot be attached to anyone. He runs his course through girls and women, he sensitizes them, he adds them to his coffers. He thinks, “This might be the one”. But something happens. Something drastic. Something devastating. Something hopeless.

As Alfie says, ‘In every doomed relationship, there comes what I like to call “The uh-oh moment”. When a certain little something happens, and you know you’ve just witnessed the beginning of the end. And suddenly you stop and you think, “Uh-oh, iceberg ahead”. Alfie is a post-modern perfectionist caught up in his candlelit reveries.

The movie ends, as all movies do. And since all good movies end with a beginning of something; as all good movies end essentially with a question, so does Alfie.

“What have I got? Really? Some money in my pocket, some nice threads, fancy car at my disposal, and I’m single. Yeah… unattached, free as a bird… I don’t depend on nobody and nobody depends on me… My life’s my own. But I don’t have peace of mind. And if you don’t have that, you’ve got nothing. So… what’s the answer? That’s what I keep asking myself. What’s it all about? You know what I mean?”

Alfie, I know exactly what you mean. Regardless of the fact that I have worn designer shoes, I unlike you, have been in love.

For Alfie, Love is extracting Joy in the sense of Abandon. It is Submission. It is the tremulous making of the twain out of two single strands, otherwise mutually unacquainted. Love is the Art of Dependence.

Love, Alfie, is as scarlet and as profound as the wincing ripple in a glass of red wine. Love is that tannins that buzz continuously in the esophagus of ones soul and oxygenates experience. Love is bond, it is organic and permeating. It is delimited only by the expressive inadequacies of its possessor, but then again, as it eventually turns out, not quite.

But is there love in the Post-Modern Universe? Does the glitz and glides, contours and coutures, does the incorporation of the individual into a box, the sybaritic exaltation of the ‘outperforming’ individual’s triumph through an Industrial Post-Modern Stratification, this…stuff of ‘Independence’; does it answer Alfie’s questions? Do the questions answer themselves? You know what I mean?

Just as the Post-modern Universe does, an Ancient cosmic place called Aryavarta had a hierarchy of sorts. It was called the Caste System.

Like the Post-Modern Universe, it too accomplished in an entirely different way a balanced society. But it wasn’t balanced by Competition, it was balanced by Cooperation. It wasn’t balanced by a Rat-race, it was balanced by Respect.

This too did not last long. That country today is called something like the Republic of India. It too has its Alfies. For Alfie after all, like all post-modern males, are transcontinental elopers; urbane and international: free to womanize and free to be independent, anywhere, in a free world of free trade, and Commodification.

It’s Spring here in the East Coast. And something in the breeze, something in my heart, cuts loose. A song permeates the stuff of my soul. Its lyrics ran through my mind as I paddled through a stream of breezy consciousness, “…the innocence will never last …wake me up, when September ends…”

September. Corporation. Post-Modern Universe. Masculinity. Free Trade. Individuality. Alfie.

It all made sense.

The world ‘love’ and the word ‘greenday’ in their redolent combination invoked in my mind a Springtime just like this, seemingly decades ago, but in the minutes of men only a year ago.

The word ‘love’ and the word ‘greenday’: an association of eyeliner, innocence, smell of grass and bloom, and a tenderness exchanged through the warm dryness and cool moisture of skin touching skin, chocolate melting in both mouths, its clump moving around and from tongue to tongue, back and forth, heart permeating heart.

I remember, sitting here thinking, ‘it’s a transforming feeling’.


“Oh, when I was in love with you, Then I was clean and brave And miles around the wonder grew How well I did behave. And now the fancy passes by, And nothing will remain, And miles around they’ll say that I Am quite myself again.” ~A.E. Housman, English Classical Scholar & Poet

“The Universe is transformation; Our life is what our thoughts make it.” ~Marcus Aurelius.

“Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. Do you believe in free speech? Then speak freely. Do you love the truth? Then tell it. Do you believe in an open society? Then act in the open. Do you believe in a decent and humane society? Then behave decently and humanely.” ~Adam Michnik

Alexander Rai