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Edited by John Early

When I was 11 years old, I rented a VHS of the movie Clockwatchers from a Blockbuster in Nashville, Tennessee. 

In one scene, the cripplingly shy Iris visits a psychic played by the great O-Lan Jones who tells her, "You tiptoe through life. Don't be afraid to make your mark." And thus began my journey to self-actualization via Toni Collette.

Haunted by her performance as Iris, I rented Muriel's Wedding, an Australian fever dream tailor-made for gay boys afraid of wearing shorts, and there was simply no turning back.

My infatuation transformed into the kind of fierce, primal love that can only exist in one's adolescence or in Toni Collette's performance in The Sixth Sense. I wept on the floor of my living room when she lost the Oscar to Angelina Jolie. I named my family's dachshund Muriel. I even made a website for her on Geocities. 

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And then I realized I was gay...with a Toni Collette website. The receipts of my homosexuality were online for all to see. I stopped updating the site. I stopped trying to proselytize my peers. I pretended not to like Connie and Carla. Looking back on it here, I'm not embarrassed by my earnestness or my posturing as a precocious cinephile. I realize I just had great fucking taste. 

– John