Hey, did you see those photos? The ones from Saturday in which Ben Affleck was trying to carry all the packages on his doorstep with his customary large Dunkin’ Donuts order balanced on top? They are gorgeous, but not because they’re surprising. When you’re an older non-athlete, doing it all in one trip is the closest thing you get to playing sports. The drama, the stakes, the balance. It’s a small thrill one can look forward to.
But more importantly, Ben Affleck has just broken up with Ana de Armas (or been broken up with by Ana de Armas, if you’ll allow the passive voice), and is well-practiced in the art of the existential everyman paparazzi shot at or near his Los Angeles home. This series fits square in the oeuvre.
The problem, let’s call it, with this one is that there are too many metaphors to attach to it. How to choose! The packages are our fractured lives in the pandemic and Affleck is all of us? Is he himself, and the packages the tabloids that contain every anonymous source willing and able to speak on his breakup? Is he balancing his selfhood, the Dunkies, on top of too much outside input? Does the man simply have baggage?
Well, packages. This man has packages. He is holding a lot of them, all stacked on top of one another, at his own door. So maybe it’s best to move from the metaphorical realm to the speculative one. What’s in that one? What’s in that one or that one? Maybe they contain things he needs around the house—a light bulb here, a thing to fix the thing there. But also maybe these packages are meant to fill the Ana–sized hole in his heart. You know, like self-care stuff. A cream for the aching eyes. A little aromatic thingamajig for zhuzhing the smell of the place. Baby Foot for shedding the callouses that all those pandemic walks built. It looks like enough purchases to successfully become a whole new him.
The Dunkin’ iced coffee on top isn’t helping to fill the hole, nor is it especially self-care-y. It’s more like a crucial layer that gets him to zero every day. He must know by now that it’s driving all the Ben watchers on the internet wild whenever he is photographed with one (which is almost the number of times he is photographed, since he has one every day) and so he must be doing it on purpose now—the Dunkies, the cameras, the postures of absolute and abject humanity.
His awareness doesn’t really take the fun out of the photos—though it’s always better aesthetically if he’s giving the camera a hard, surly look, rather than the smile we have here—and it would be great if he never stopped doing it for the rest of his days, with self-awareness or not.
You can picture him, about 80, telling whoever he’s chatting up at the time, “The doc says I shouldn’t, but I do. I love it. It’s my first love, you gotta understand that. See, I’m from Boston….” He still gets all 34 ounces of Dunkin’, and some future paparazzo, also 80, is there to bear witness.
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