January 10, 2009
If they ever give an Academy Award to the best moviegoer of the year, I would have to be a nominee. No one enters a packed theater with more flair (or more popcorn).
"How about over here?" I ask.
"How about over there?" says my date.
I prefer aisle seats. In fact, I'm a little nutso about it. I'd rather plop down in an aisle seat up close than be hemmed in farther back.
My date, on the other hand, would climb over 20 people to secure two seats in the middle of the theater. Personally, I hate climbing over strangers. I fall in love too easily. To have me climbing over strangers is to invite heartache and restraining orders.
"How about that spot down there?" I say, pointing to the third row.
"How about in there?" says my date, pointing to two inside seats.
"OK," I say, and begin to climb past the other customers like a fat fullback chasing a fumble out of bounds.
"Whew," I say when we finally arrive.
"You OK?" asks Posh.
"I think I lost my pants," I say.
See, this is why I deserve an Oscar. I'm one of the few audience members willing to do nude scenes.
"It's really quiet in here," I whisper after we get settled.
"Not from where I'm sitting, it isn't," she says, giving me that glare.
I'm telling you it was creepy quiet. You know how everybody says movie audiences are rude and noisy these days? Well, not at this jam-packed Pasadena theater. In the movie's first quiet moments, there is not a peep -- no throat-clearing, no rustling of jackets. I'm pretty sure the rest of the audience has died.
Meanwhile, I crunch my popcorn self-consciously and try not to trombone the straw up and down in my drink. (I got the No. 2 combo, a half-keg of Coke and an acre bag of popcorn. Dropped from planes, it could feed both the Carolinas.)
"Shuuush," says Posh.
"I was just . . . ."
"Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuush," she shushes.
You'll have to excuse my wife. She's been under a lot of pressure. First, there was Christmas, a holiday that wouldn't exist in its current form were it not for heroes like her, mostly women.
Women insist on gifts, cards, feasts, church, cross-country travel, decorations, baking, caroling, tipping, and that whole over-the-top Santa thing.
If Christmas were left to men, they'd celebrate it with a handshake and maybe an extra Heineken.
Amid all the Christmas stuff, we had eight baby hamsters. Remember the hamsters? Well, they're mostly out of the house now (which is more than I can say for our children). The hamsters came into our life, I'm pretty sure, to remind me and Posh that there really can be an empty nest. It is a small sliver of hope, almost a godly gesture.
But before we could give them away, we had to "sex" them -- separate the boys from the girls. As you probably know, hamsters are the teenagers of the rodent world. They are mostly nocturnal and horny in ways that would scare Madonna. So, like teenagers, hamsters need to be kept apart as much as possible.
That's where I came in. My wife and I stood on the front porch one morning in late December, with a flashlight and a magnifying glass, examining hamster genitalia. Let me tell you, after an experience like that, it'll be amazing that the hamster men can perform at all.
"I think that one's a . . . girl . . . no, a boy . . . no, wait, that's definitely a girl," Posh would say.
I'd drop that hamster in the "girl bucket" and grab another.
"That's definitely a . . . hmmm, I don't see anything . . . oh-wait-oh-wait-oh-wait . . . I think I see . . . put that one in the indefinite bucket," Posh says.
It was like looking for ghosts. Two hours later we had five buckets. Girls. Boys. Movie stars (lots of genitalia). Rock stars (singers whose sexual orientation was unclear). And mice (actual mice).
How the mice sneaked in there, I'm not sure. In fact, why anyone would want to voluntarily enter our house is beyond me. Smart mice don't sneak into our house, they sneak out of it.
Which is how Posh and I ended up at the movies two weeks after Christmas, in need of a little popcorn therapy. Two exhausted mice, out on the town.
Turns out we're seeing a comedy this night, "Revolutionary Road," starring Kate Winslet and that guy from "Titanic," Leonardo DiVinci. I don't know how they're still together, because I thought he died when Celine Dion started singing incessantly.
Anyway, most of the jokes in "Revolutionary Road" go over my head, but there is one crazy character who gets a laugh or two. Me. When I finish the popcorn, I begin to eat the bucket.
You know, haven't seen Posh since.
Look for a new column by Erskine on Thursday in Sports.
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