Good Times, Noodle Salad

2 minute read



There’s a scene in As Good As It Gets where Melvin Udall, Jack Nicholson’s character, is sitting across a restaurant table from Carol Connelly, Helen Hunt’s character, and he says “You make me want to be a better man.”It stops her in her tracks and makes me cry every time. The reason? Melvin is an A-1 prick through the entire movie. He is arrogant, sexist, homophobic, and selfish, and yet, there is still something in him that we’re rooting for. There is still something in him that allows us to like him. There is still something in him that we see in ourselves.

Love and fear.
Life isn’t about grand sweeping gestures or horrific tragedies that hit us with a lightning bolt of understanding, so we wake the hell up and appreciate the people who matter most to us. It’s about paying attention to the people and the moments that happen every day. The ordinary instances that we allow to pass us by as we wait for the more momentous occasion to shake us up or the once-in-a-lifetime miracle to happen are the opportunities that allow us to feel and be better.

Having our antennae raised to become a better person doesn’t mean that we believe we aren’t good enough or unworthy. It’s not about self-pitying or jumping on the hamster wheel of constant self-improvement. It’s about having the clarity to pause and realize that we are regularly given opportunities on a daily basis to be our best selves. Whether or not we take them is all on us.

“Good times, noodle salad.” This is another Melvin-ism and is our home’s go-to life”line” when we need to get over ourselves. When we know that no, another glass of wine won’t solve the problem (except when it will). And, above all else, when we know our sanity is at a breaking point.

One of us will deliver the line, “Good times, noodle salad,” in a perfectly timed Jack deadpan. We’ll bring it down a notch. Stat.

We all need someone in our life who reminds us of this and makes us want to be better. Who makes us want to make better choices. Who makes us want to do better deeds. Who makes us want to look within ourselves and see that we have goodness in us and we need to let it out. The majority of us stick to our goals, trek through the storms and celebrate our accomplishments knowing that what we’re doing is for someone else’s benefit, as well as our own. Why? Because it feels friggin fantastic knowing that we’re helping other people.

Who makes you want to be a better person? See them clearly in your mind, thank them if you have the chance (or the nerve) and go be it. It’s whoever is in your life and motivates you to see the best in yourself and become it. Your mom? Your best friend? Your grandpa? Your kid?  Your partner? Your clients? Your neighbor? I don’t even care if it’s your freakin’ cat – and I am so a dog person. That’s how important this is for us all to jump on board.

As we enter into the holiday chaos, it’s helpful to keep this person in our mind’s eye as an anchor to remind us of the good in ourselves.

Then what happens? We shine brighter, love deeper and laugh easier.

So, thank YOU for making this bold move because, in the end, it helps us all.

As Good As It Gets (1997, dir James L. Brooks)
A single mother and waitress, a misanthropic author, and a gay artist form an unlikely friendship after the artist is assaulted in a robbery.

Melvin Udall: Judging from your eyes, I’d say you were fifty.

Carol Connelly: Judging from your eyes, I’d say you were kind, so so much for eyes.

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