Wiping Away the Blues and Washing Away the Mean Reds (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

By Jessica Huynh, Storyteller for RU Student Life

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Movie Clip — The Mean Reds
“You know those days when you get the mean reds?”
“The mean reds? You mean like the blues?”
“No. The blues are because you’re getting fatter and maybe it’s been raining too long; you’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible though. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?”

Audrey Hepburn captivated our hearts in her iconic portrayal of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Depicting a dazzling, nomadic character, Golightly’s cinematic spirit came to life and danced before our eyes. Her enchanting rawness and naivety revealed a story of a girl who kept running, only to realize she was running from herself all along. Golightly, a self-proclaimed “wild thing,” sheds her old life in search of a larger than life self — one that even a Tiffany jewellery box couldn’t contain! However, her vulnerability becomes increasingly apparent as the plot thickens. The mean reds is just one of the many whimsical analogies Holly made that captures a real emotion many people experience every day.

As Holly pointed out, the blues are common and fairly easy to combat. It’s normal to feel a little more melancholy some days more than others. With the blues, a quick pick me up is all you need to wipe the blues away! Watching your favourite movie, reading an enthralling novel, or fitting in some light exercise can easily combat the blues. But the mean reds? That’s something entirely different.

The mean reds are harder to pinpoint, making it infinite times more difficult to resolve. Although I am not a huge fan of labels, it can feel a lot like anxiety, having a panic attack, experiencing PTSD, dealing with grief, suffering from extreme loss, or battling depression. Suddenly, as Golightly described, you feel the world collapsing in on you as you pant heavily for air.

You’re afraid; paralyzed with fear. You feel confused and disoriented. Every action and thought feels weighted down by invisible bricks. Reality begins to shatter into a million pieces and you’re terrified whether to painstakingly glue each piece back together or to walk away, barefoot over broken glass. Ah yes, the mean reds are mean indeed. It strikes when you least expect it, to the most unlikely of individuals, without a moment’s warning.

Screenshot of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.

Because the mean reds are hard to identify and is experienced uniquely from person to person, it’s important to find a self-care method that works for you. For Holly, she revealed,

“Well, when I get [the mean reds] the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then… then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!”

Combatting the mean reds is a combination of removing yourself from a situation that triggers you, creating a safe environment to be in, grounding yourself, and seeking out familiarity. When you experience a tidal wave of the mean reds, it can be difficult to do anything at all, but there is remarkable strength in just sitting with yourself, watching the clouds pass while the mean reds burn out like a slow flame.

Whenever I get the mean reds, I cry. Involuntarily, I cry and cry until my eyes are swollen and the wash of fear flushes out of my system. I might take a lukewarm shower, tuck myself into bed, and call it an early night. Other times, I like to sit with myself and try to count the people and attributes that make me me. Somtimes, I call up a trusted friend, write in my journal, or watch a lighthearted comedy. The next day, I might treat myself to some frivolous spending. Without knowing, the mean reds have transitioned into bright hues of yellow and I feel like myself again.

What makes Holly Golighty such a beloved icon today is her relatability. The idea of the lost girl trying to get by in the big city is a feeling that many young adults living in an urban city can easily connect with. You can be most enchanting person at a party, and still catch the blues and mean reds when you least expect it.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a real-life place like Tiffany’s, you know, just in case.