Despite all of that, I hadn’t given him much thought until he appeared in a dream the other night. But here’s the kicker: it wasn’t your usually romantic celebrity dream. He was my dad. (Meryl Streep starred as my grandmother, who did nothing but sit at a dining table compulsively eating, but that’s neither here nor there.)
My dad! How absurd. I already have a real-life dad who is excellent.
It’s now obvious that I had been subconsciously seeking out Jay-Bee content, not because I was attracted to him à la Brody and Chalamet, but because in just about every role he plays, Bateman is the reassuring and calm anchor amid chaos. He always plays the adult. And if this year has shown us anything, it’s that the world needs an adult—like an adult adult, beyond what our parents and the grandparents can offer, because they also need an adult.
In a year when chaos reigned, it feels as though so many of us have regressed into panicked, tired, restless and angry toddlers. There’s a tantrum brewing just under the surface of everyone old enough to have a rogue grey hair, a few wrinkles and the occasional back pain.
We all need a nap. We all need one of Bateman’s characters to tuck us in, brush our hair off our face and tell us it will all be okay. We need him to turn out the lamp and, in the glow of the nightlight, look back at us lovingly before he gently and noiselessly shuts the door.
If you’re not into Bateman (I hear some people aren’t, and to be fair, most of his characters’ issues are self-inflicted, which isn’t the most mature way to behave), there are other adult adults to choose from. I imagine Adam Driver, with his sturdy tree-like disposition, would pick you up and hold you on his hip as the waves of anxiety crash at his feet, like a man playing with a child in the surf. And maybe it’s the fact that he’s dating someone nearly 40 years younger and dealt with Lindsay Lohan as a child actor, but Dennis Quaid gives off pretty strong adult vibes on occasion.
Tom Hanks is an obvious choice. Even former President Barack Obama, who is possibly the best adult you could find, referred to Hanks as America’s Dad. Or you could go with David Attenborough and Morgan Freeman. Though they could offer much in the way of comfort and encouragement, the bedtime stories alone would be enough.
And then, of course, there are the mums. According to my dream, Meryl Streep is someone I need to play a maternal role in my life. You’ve also got Michelle Obama (to dish out the advice) and Julie Andrews (to instill the Mary Poppins work ethic). Helen Mirren seems like she’d be firm but fair, Jane Fonda has that strong resolve, and I bet Blythe Danner could fix you a drink while you cry on her shoulder. (Side note: Jennifer Aniston and Winona Ryder would make great big sisters, don’t you think?)
Perhaps, though, rather than projecting our needs for someone to take care of us and guide us through the rest of the year and beyond, we should be looking inward. We should be focusing on cultivating a calm inner world and being present as adults for one another, in the real world, rather than waiting for someone to appear in a dream. In 2021, our New Year’s resolution should be to become the adults the world needs to guide it into a new, and more positive, era.
(Side note: It appears my obsession with Bateman was prescient. While I was writing this, Saturday Night Live announced that Bateman will be hosting the show for the first time in 15 years, on December 5. Lil Timmy Tim Chalamet is slated to host the week after. What a nice way to round out the year.)