From the moment Holly is introduced— when it's clear she has no qualms about accepting favors from men who expect much more than a goodnight kiss at the end of the evening, that her whole life has been spent stringing along one sugar daddy after another—we begin to see that anything in her life that isn't about her is blithely shoved to the periphery. The woman hasn't even taken the time to name her cat.
Over time, I have met, and occasionally tried to date, women who not only consider Breakfast at Tiffany's their favorite film, but who say, without irony, that they want to be Holly Golightly. Rushing to the defense of their heroine, Holly's acolytes usually claim that the movie is a harmless indulgence—it's not just about how Hepburn looks in her chic Givenchy threads, it's about how free-spirited Holly Golightly is able to live on her own terms in a bustling, competitive metropolis, and about how her sheer vulnerability enables her to win over a seemingly unattainable man.
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To a male, however, Breakfast at Tiffany's is guilty of far more than being a guilty pleasure.
Maybe it's saying too much about the girl I was trying to date at the time (who I put in a cab after our morning screening, and who, before I could hop in, left without me), but there's something about Holly that preys on every man's worst fears about feminine capriciousness.
Her story seems to conclude that if a guy cannot anticipate and abide by his woman"s most whimsical and superficial desires—and, keep her in expensive trinkets that come in turquoise boxes—she will eventually leave him.
It's the ultimate act of betrayal when we learn that Holly is really Lulamae Golightly of Tulip, Texas, who has left behind her own children and a perfectly kind yokel of a husband played by Buddy Ebsen. (If only she had known he would strike oil the following year on the hit show The Beverly Hillbillies.)
Yet the movie seems to reward her lies in a way that real life never would. She still gets her guy and her missing cat, in the end. (I wonder how many viewers of Breakfast at Tiffany's know that Truman Capote’s original short story ends with Holly fleeing, alone, leaving her man, and her feline forever lost in New York.)
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Our culture already possesses a tradition of stories about reckless, helpless women rescued by compassionate men who redeem them with perfect lives and valuable treasures, and they are known as fairy tales. When a woman embraces a shiny bauble like Breakfast at Tiffany's, when she aspires to be Holly Golightly, she might as well dream of being Cinderella or Snow White, living on the banks of a fictitious Moon River. Wherever these women are going, I hope they're not going my way, but I'm still probably gullible enough to give them the cab fare to get there.