The Trading Places Test

A very good friend told me I should write about dating. This is my first attempt. Be nice.

I love Trading Places. It’s one of the few movies that I can watch again and again and still get something out of it. There’s nothing better during the holiday season than watching Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy at their best.

One of the moviemaking techniques that John Landis, the director, employed was to show as opposed to tell. Far too often, moviemakers rely on campy dialogue or idiotic sequences to tell a part of the story.

There’s a scene in the movie that I’m very fond of. After his fall from grace, which included losing his job, his friends and his money, Louis Winthorp, played by Aykroyd, is living in the apartment of a hooker, Ophelia, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. After a night out in the rain, Winthorp falls ill. He’s lying sick in her bed with a high fever.

Pitying Winthorp, Ophelia cancels an appointment with a client, strips down, and gets in bed with Winthorp, wrapping her arms around him in an effort to make him feel better.

There’s a lot to that. When Winthorp is at his worst (personally, professionally, and physically), Ophelia is there to boost him, possibly at risk to herself. She gives up space in her apartment. She cancels appointments with clients. She risks falling ill as well. And while she had said it was a “business transaction” earlier in the film, at this point we start to think that it isn’t about money anymore.

In the back of my head, I have started to evaluate the women I date based on the “Trading Places Test”. That is to say, would this woman try to make me feel better when I’m at my absolute lowest? Is she willing to brave, say, getting sick, in order to nurse me back to health?