Clerks came out the year I started at University. It also came out the year before I got a job at the local branch of Travelling Man, where I’d spend the next seven years. I have, to my eternal pleasure, actually woken up, got dressed, shaved whilst walking to work and opened the store to this song from the first movie. I didn’t have a goatee at the time but I did have Doc Martens.
I had become Dante Hicks, Destroyer of Worlds.
Later on, we got a mood Action Man, and would write little comments and quotes on a flash card in front of him. The one time I had to work a Sunday, I, of course, wrote:
I’M NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TODAY
on the card.
Things change and jobs don’t last forever, but that period of time, the good and the bad, finished a lot of what my adolescence had started. I listened to the soundtrack less, I wore different shoes, I moved on.
Then Clerks 2 hit, straight between the eyes. Weird as it sounds for a movie that features man and donkey in a configuration that very few people would want them to be in, it’s an amazingly smart, dignified piece of work. It captures that subtle sense of desperation that falls on you some time around 35 and the push me/pull you of societal expectation and what makes you happy. It’s a film poised on the absolute edge of complete triumph, or utter catastrophe, and there’s utter emotional honesty in the second half in particular. It’s Kevin Smith’s best work, and I find myself, unusually, extremely worried about Clerks 3. I don’t think you can top the way the second one ends and I’m increasingly convinced no one, even Smith, should try.
That ending is balletic, closing the circle with the first movie at the same time as waving the characters off. It’s perfectly shot, the music choice is spot on and it’s the first Sunday Moment of Zen for 2014.