Do you have a book or movie character that you strongly identify with?

I used to think mine was witty, sparkling Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

But after careful consideration, I’ve come to realize that my fictional doppelganger is not Elizabeth, but in fact The Dude from The Big Lebowski. 

Why? Well, as The Dude would say, new shit has come to light.

Allow me to explain:

I watched The Big Lebowski a couple times in college, and Ross has watched it probably five or six times total (that I know of). Every time I watch it, I experience renewed appreciation for John Goodman, as well as Tara Reid, who – surprise! – is Bunny, the trophy wife in The Big Lebowski. I’ve always wondered why people don’t talk about this more.

Anyway, because I took a mini work vacation last week, and because the sun leached all my energy out on Saturday*, and finally because the Colorado shooting happened and because I still couldn’t shake my funk from that on Saturday night, Ross wisely suggested a Big Lebowski evening.

It was then that I came to this startling conclusion.

You know how when you instantly know you’ve found a kindred spirit?  Maybe it’s their manner of speech. Maybe it’s their passionate worldviews.

Or, maybe, it’s their unflattering shorts. That you also maybe wear.

Here is what I realized about The Dude, and about myself, while watching The Big Lebowski over the weekend. They are listed in seven irrefutable facts, ranging from superficial to the more profound:

1. THE DUDE IS PREOCCUPIED WITH RUGS. Me too. Rugs are one of those housewares that are bizarrely expensive, and the reason The Dude gets involved with his whole kerfuffle (and launches the plot of The Big Lebowski, which I still think is their best written) is over a rug: “It really tied the room together.”

Dude, I know what you mean. As a rug fetishist myself, I know how challenging it is to find one that doesn’t require a loan from your bank and ALSO satisfies the decor demands of your furniture and wall color.

2. THE DUDE LOVES SHORTS. Did I tell you guys that Ross had to politely ask that I stop wearing a certain pair of shorts recently? I’ve had them roughly since Jesus walked the Earth. They are black with white polka dots, and for years, I was convinced that I could “dress them up or down!” when in fact, they are strictly “down,” meant only to be worn as a partial swimsuit cover-up (and not, as I’ve attempted, one half of an office ensemble).

People have strong feelings about shorts, and I’ll admit, I used to be in the con camp. But then I realized I was a Texan, and sometimes, our legs just need to roam free. The Dude understands.

After all (see above photo), he’s a shorts guy, too.

3. THE DUDE IS A PACIFIST. Amen. While John Goodman is the ‘Nam vet, the gun-wielder, the one threatening his other bowling alley compadres that they are about to ENTER A WORLD OF PAIN if they question his bowling scoring, The Dude is a calming salve in angry, tense situations.

The worst, most violent thing I ever did happened when I was 13 years old, and I’ve never forgiven myself for it. My friend Katie and I were eating lunch at the dork table, and she said something along the lines of, “I see your zit.” Well, I had worked long and hard with Cover Girl that morning covering that zit, and perhaps because I was feeling impulsive, but likely because I was 13 and super insecure, I threw my glass of water in her face, and watched it splash all over her cheeks and hair. She gasped. I did too.

I apologized immediately, then wrote Katie a big long apology letter begging her to still be my best friend. It was enough to teach me that physical outbursts are simply not in my nature, and though I’m quite certain she’s moved on by now, I still sometimes think about tracking down Katie on Facebook just so I can apologize to her one more time.

4. THE DUDE IS A TERRIFIC DANCER. For example, this is also how I dance.

5. THE DUDE KNOWS THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF INS, A LOT OF OUTS, A LOT OF WHAT-HAVE-YOU’S IN ANY GIVEN SITUATION. Which basically describes graduate school for me. I actually liked my classes a lot, but when I try to describe some of the research I did, or some of the papers I wrote, it starts out as:

“My focus was on ‘fin de siecle’ British literature and more specifically Oscar Wilde, especially The Picture of Dorian Gray and the storytelling devices used within,”

And devolves into:

“You know, there were like, just a lotta moving parts in that story. Themes. Big themes, ya know? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.”

It gets just laughable when I try to talk about my literary theory classes:

“Jacques Derrida man, I mean … whoa. Wh-huh-HOA.”

The Dude is similarly presented with a series of complex tasks, and has to basically pretend he knows what he’s talking about to each side of the Bunny Lebowski kidnapping case while things naturally sort themselves out. Again, my time in graduate school.

6. THE DUDE HAS SAM ELLIOT NARRATING HIS LIFE.  Inspired by my friend Nina, I’ve mentioned before here that my life seems to run just a little bit smoother when I hear Morgan Freeman narrating it, like everything I do is endearing but also quietly noble. “Oh, there goes our Tolly girl again, drivin’ to the grocery store. She usually gets herself some Greek yogurt, but what will she get today? (Chuckle) Probably Greek yogurt. Some things jus’ never change.

What I’m trying to say is, The Dude and I both prefer it if men with big rich voices declare the plots of our day. Nay, our lives.

7. THE DUDE ABIDES. Do you know I’ve honestly thought about starting a cooking blog called “The Food Abides?” (This mission was aborted due to a clear and present lack of cooking skills.)

Anyway, the most well-known and t-shirt-rendered quote of the entire film is this one, and has been adapted to pop culture parlance to mean something more Zen Buddhist I think, like “just be.” A code I attempt to live my life by more and more these days — less doing, more being — and works out sometimes, sometimes not, but results in happier vibes all-around when I can pull it off.

I could go on about my kinship with The Dude, his jellies-wearing, his aversion to yelling (but propensity to yell himself), his affection for young Steve Buscemi  … but we’ll stop here.

If this whole post wasn’t enough to convince you that it’s probably time to watch The Big Lebowski again, maybe The Big Lebowski quote-along happening right now at the South Lamar Drafthouse is.

What fictional character do you relate to?  Who is your immortal doppelganger?

*This sweating-in-the-sun thing on Saturday was actually for a really cool project that I’m excited to tell you about. No, not outdoor mud wrestling. Nice try.