Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Real Chiller

I was watching an old episode of Mr. Bean recently and I was reminded of a girlfriend I had in the 80s.

That didn't sound right. I'll start over: Mr. Bean went to see "Nightmare On Elm Street", and it turned out that both he and the woman seated next to him were terrified by the special effects and screeching synthesizer. That whole scene brought back memories of taking my then-girlfriend to a horror movie. (She wanted to see "Sixteen Candles". Go figure.) She wasn't happy about it, and expressed her displeasure by giving me the silent treatment and not letting me hold her hand.

Not that either of us was very mature, but I felt that a good, scary movie would be just the thing to draw her to me for a sense of safety from the monsters wreaking havoc across the sound set.

To paint a picture, the theater was filled to maximum capacity by the "It's Friday, Scare Us" crowd. Voices buzzed in anticipation of the long-awaited masterpiece. "I hope there's lots of blood", intoned Marty, a kid who was obviously in junior high, to his thrill-seeking buddies. "Do you want popcorn or anything to drink?", was asked of a very sweet lady who looked for all the world like she wanted to join my girlfriend and go see "Sixteen Candles". My girlfriend, meanwhile, was content to let me know that she wasn't one bit happy about having to sit through five or so coming attractions in order to endure the impending gore fest, even though she seemed to have appreciated the popcorn I bought for her.

Minutes clicked off as the tension built in the audience. Two-hundred or more people pooled their collective adrenaline in anticipation of the best chances for heart attacks to occur among a group of people whose age averaged out to maybe age twenty or so.

The final preview ended as the "Thank You For Not Smoking" message crawled across a surprisingly filthy screen.

Twentieth Century Fox presented its intro with its famous drumbeat which sounds like a mixture of military drumming and an out-of-balance washing machine.

The lights dimmed.

I got my "small" cup of Coca-Cola ready. (More on that in a moment.)

The movie begins with some guy narrating how a young couple went for a walk in the woods to get away from the party they were attending and how they were never seen again, even though Mabel thought she heard a scream. "Aw, that's just a hoot owl", dismisses the requisite blonde high school quarterback who, forty minutes into this turkey, goes from being a bully and all-around jerk to the tragic hero of this budget film. More suspenseful music and even  more adrenaline is building. Everyone in the first seven rows can feel it. We're practically breathing it.

As the camera pans across the forest clearing, we hear "Has anyone seen Josh and Pam?" A few muttered replies indicate that, not only do they not know the whereabouts of the young couple, they want to continue engaging in some heavy-duty lip lock, and will you please leave us alone?

Another two shrieks from a mediocre actress who must have shelled out big bucks for a scream coach.

Now the synthesizer is really getting warmed up; the tempo is increasing, and it seems like more notes have been added to make it sound, well, thicker. This has registered with everyone in the theater except for one person.

That person, of course, is my girlfriend, who's still pouting about missing her chick flick. Ah, but I've already prepared for that. Remember a moment ago, when I mentioned my Coke? I like my sodas heavy on the ice. Just as the monster spun around a tree and snagged some unfortunate teen for a midnight snack, I took the liberty of removing a piece of ice from my drink, and running it down the back of her neck. That coincided with the strongest synthesized notes of the entire musical score.

What happened next includes more than I can recall. I do remember that she screamed and jumped. Actually, she launched out of her seat, which displaced the contents of her popcorn tub across perhaps eight people who themselves were already amidst their own screaming colloquium. Just about the time that everyone was settling down and laughing in mild embarrassment, some girl noticed a kernel of my girlfriend's popcorn in her hair. "SPIDER!", shrieked the terrified sixteen year old.

That, of course, caused something of a stampede as young ladies began jumping out of their seats, checking their clothes, and running to the exits while their dates slipped out quickly to retrieve them. "I'm not going back in there!, was the overheard consensus.

I'm not sure how I get into these things. It doesn't happen much anymore. I suppose it's because I'm not as impulsive as I once was. I think it's also because I've developed a sense of empathy over the years. How would I like it if someone traumatized me with ice? "Not much" would be my guess.

Mainly, though, I attribute my ill-thought-out decision to get my girlfriend's attention to my love for life. Even after having upstaged myself by my own shortsightedness, I felt good about things.

I'm happy with that.


No comments:

Post a Comment