This story begins long before the trailers started rolling their shameless advertisements across the big screen at the local theater complex. It begins before the ten mile run that jarred my bones for a little over ninety minutes and the six hours of studying that fried my brain until I was dumber than the GED-toting model I will end up marrying. It even starts before my shift at General Mills, where I logged my contribution to our stagnating economy under the watchful eye of an unforgiving supervisor.
This story begins at 5:30 in the morning when my Radio Shack issue alarm decided my sleepy time was over and the awake hours should begin. Actually it was me who made that decision, but I'd set my alarm in a moment of weakness the night before, not realizing how early 5:30 really is. I had chores, a homework assignment and some personal hygiene problems to resolve before leaving for work. After my travails at the Cheerio factory and a quick rinse in the "Milk Shower," our loving moniker for the sprayer that helps remove the scent of heavily refined, super white flour before we leave for home, I logged some time at my school's library, reviewing the ravings of the lunatic Fourier (the socialist economist, not the physicist) among others and generally preparing for the irritable activity we call "Final Examinations."
When my eye balls were struggling to stay in their sockets, I replaced my books in my backpack, switched the music on my mp3 player from Brooks and Dunn to Blink 182 and went for a run. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how a derelict celebrates a sixteen hour day.
Only the day wasn't over. I ran into a friend on the way to my car who looked at me with a concerned eye [CAUTION VERY WEIRD] and told me to drink some juice, a comment I interpreted as a date invitation. But I'll share the rest of that conversation in another post. It suffices to say that I was looking a mite tuckered.
I was crossing the last street to where my car was parked when my phone buzzed. It was F.
"Hey C, wanna catch a movie?" The request was as enticing as it was impossible.
"I can't, F. I've been running around like a soccer mom all day and I just need to go home and relax. I think I'll just curl up with some Akerlof tonight." I think F figured "Akerlof" to be an adult beverage, but he didn't cop to it when I pressed him about it later.
"C'mon, C! It'll be fun. Everyone is going. And we're catching some dinner at In N' Out beforehand." It was as if F had pushed my "Easy Button." I went from ambivalent to persuaded faster than you can say "Flying Dutchman."
I arrived at the local In N' Out before F and his entourage, so I grabbed a seat at one of the outdoor tables and enjoyed a few slow minutes. Ten feet away from me two teenybopper females gossiped emphatically, never hesitating at the prospect that their words might be picked up by a guileless eavesdropper. I wasn't trying to listen in (although everyone should know that Jane broke up with Todd and it's all Todd's fault for looking sideways at Rhonda and that Jane is thinking about going out with Amanda's ex) but I got an earful nonetheless. Their conversation was like a verbal combat. One person would speak while the other tried desperately to get a word in edgewise. Then they'd reverse roles. In an odd way, their interaction held a chaotic beauty, like seeing lions eating zebras on the Discovery Channel.
Once F arrived, bringing with him the entire female population of the Central Valley, I waltzed (1-2-3, 1-2-3) into the restaurant and ordered with all the desperation of a starving distance runner. The food was delicious - I think even my cooking would have been good after a ten mile run and an overheard episode of conversational combat - but the real excitement started at the theater.
I thought my day was tough, but it was nothing compared to the hero onscreen. Robert Downey Jr. (the guy who loses most of one of his fingers in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) played an iron-clad special effects character who has bad day after bad day. My ordeal over the last 19 hours was nothing compared to the world changing problems he had to tackle. And putting Lawrence Fishburn in at the end was a great touch. He'll make a great villain in Iron Man 2.
The movie was over and we filed out into the lobby area just as the first pangs of a headache hit. I had been at it too long and my body was finally starting to rebel. I had to surrender or pay some substantial consequences.
That's when F pulled a fast one. "Wanna catch another movie?" Another film was playing (that happens when the theater has 12 screens) and F was leading his entourage into the next flick. I shouldn't have, but I succumbed, shelling out another ten bucks and feeling sorry for myself that I had to submit to such awful bodily torture. It was inhuman what I was doing to myself; the Geneva Convention should come down harshly on my persecutor.
I remember nothing of the second film besides some bright lights and the screaming of the main character at a particularly tense moment in the film. I don't even remember the film's title, other than to say that it had all the creativity of a cardboard box.
When the film was over, I stumbled out the glass double doors and staggered to my car. I know that beer and gasoline don't mix, but nobody told me not to try sleepies and gasoline. By the time I got home, I understood why "exhausted" begins with an "e," the only letter in the English alphabet that's doubled over. I went to bed in my clothes and didn't stop to remove my contact lenses. The next morning was a story unto itself.