Last Friday, my sister Runtie and I called the Marquee Cinemas our home for twelve hours, settling into their brightly upholstered stadium seats for ten hours and watching $26 worth of movies. We had carefully planned the afternoon, tearing the schedule out of the paper and poring over it like it a treasure map that led to something other than deep vein thrombosis.
Our four-parter began with Eagle Eye, a technological thriller starring Shia LaBeowulf as a twentysomething screwup who gets 'activated' by an unseen woman who calls him on his cell phone and threatens to kill him unless he completes a number of tasks, a scenario that could've been prevented if he hadn't canceled his Sprint contract early. It was gloriously ridiculous but featured stuff gettin' blowed up and the emaciated husk of what used to be Billy Bob Thornton spitting lines like "Get back to work or I'll assign you to something that involves touching shit with your hands." I'm still not sure whether I was relieved or disappointed that it didn't include a VERY TENSE DOWNLOADING SCENE, the hallmark of the genre perfected in 1995 by Sandra "The Net" Bullock.
We skipped out on the credits, shielding our eyes from the Daystar (HOW IT BURNS US) and climbing a bramble-covered incline to reach Wal-Mart where we could stock up on provisions--a 24 pack of popcorn balls, soda, a totally unrelated jump rope--and oversized, underpriced purses we could use to smuggle it all into the theatre. We did pause briefly when Runtie crouched in the center of the breakfast aisle to remove a brier from her foot, an incident that didn't draw a second glance from any other shoppers, even the one who parked her cart atop Runtie's discarded flip flop and calmly read the nutritional information on a box of NASCAR-themed cereal. We stumbled back down the hill, giant purses crashing into our pelvises, and skidded into the theatre in time for Flick #2, How to Lose Friends and
Make a Shitty Movie Alienate People. I adore Simon Pegg and would lick a variety of fruit preserves from his bare chest but my affections are contingent on him actually writing the films he stars in. Also, I was unprepared to see Kirsten Dunst's teeth come snarling out of the screen sideways like enemy fighters in Galaga.
After wiping the rom-com saccharine sheen off of our skin we walked to Chick-fil-A for dinner, noticing the disproportionate number of goth kids who seem to enjoy southern-style chicken sandwiches and taking a seat across from a dude with one pale eye and a tattoo of a rotting skull who scowled at us in between spoonfuls of his Ice Dream. We darted back across the parking lot in time for the opening animation of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which can be described as:
(Michael Cera + Hipstery Girl Who Insists on Wearing Lipstick Way Past the Natural Boundaries of Her Lips) X Juno - Pregnancy + 8,000 song soundtrack.
It was probably the best flick we saw all day but if it had been made ten years earlier, it would've relied on unfortunate amounts of Goo Goo Dolls music to carry the story.
Rounding out the day was PG-13 thriller Lakeview Terrace. "I like Samuel L. Jackson", Runtie said as we snagged the last pair of seats, approximately four feet from the screen, "But he's always so hateful. I want him to star in a movie where he plays, like, an animated panda." He was not a panda in this one, 110 minutes of cursing, racism, and fire--my favorites!--but I'll save you $7.50 and summarize it as "I've had it with these mothereffing interracial couples in my mothereffing subdivision!"
We went home exhausted, waving a fistful of ticket stubs to in our parents' faces and brushing popcorn crumbs off our shirts, insisting that we had accomplished something, if only making the cinema staff feel uncomfortable. Yes, Rebecca, we're back again. We'll need another pair of tickets and another four quarters because we'd like to play Big Buck Safari and get a Hannah Montana glitter sticker out of the vending machine before these clots in our legs break loose.
On Saturday, Runtie, her boyfriend, and I went downtown for Chili Fest where we paid five bucks, got five bowls of chili, and made a mental note to drive home with the windows down. We also learned the importance of avoiding bathrooms at food festivals, since each stall at Chili Fest was an individual portal to hell. We'd discarded our last of five spoons and were sitting on the curb sharing a brownie when we started daring each other to do things because that's what grownups do. I'd already earned a buck by downing a Pixie Stick the size of Nicole Ritchie, ensuring that my evening would most likely end with a grand mal seizure when somehow our hometown's new Hooters franchise came up. The phrase "Ask for a job application" became the predicate to a sentence that began with "I dare you to", so we drove across town to a place where the beer flows like water and the mullets flow past the patrons' shoulders.
We were led to a table near the kitchen as I plotted my move. I was nervously fumbling through the menu when Whitnee our waitress--who would be hot on a scale from 1-2--flipped to a clean page on her notepad and asked what we'd like. "Just, um...the cheese sticks for me," I said chickening out and earning a plate full of batter dipped mistakes. Just when Runtie thought I was going to owe her a crisp Washington, Whitnee made her final lap past our table to see if we needed refills or a complimentary defibrillator and I finally spoke up.
"Actually, Whitnee, could I get a job application?" I said, bracing myself for the peals of laughter that would follow since my chest is less Hooters and more Hootwelveyearoldboy. I was ready to spill a rich backstory about having worked nights at the Hooters in Tacoma as I pursued a degree in Archeology with a minor in Mini-Burgers, but "sure," was all she said, her penciled on eyebrows curving themselves into over-plucked parentheses. "Would you like to fill it out here or just bring it back?"
"The latter," I told her, noting that the application was less concerned with prior employment experience than it was with prior felony convictions. "What ladder?" she asked, stacking our empty plates onto her tray and tugging at the hem of her orange sateen shorts. When we said nothing, she offered me a pen and minced back toward the kitchen. Before she rounded the corner, I saw the slogan on the back of her shirt. It read "Delightfully tacky yet unrefined."
Yes, Hooters. Yes, you are.
Any time we're at home, there's no way Runtie and I can leave the premises without getting at least one Dad Lecture (TM) from our serious-sounding father, who always writes out talking points for these seemingly off-the-cuff conversations. This time we had to talk about the economy and the fact that my Dad is concerned about this made my sphincter tighten a little. "Things aren't easy out there," he began. "A lot of people are going to lose their jobs and even more are going to lose money."
What I should've said was nothing. What I did say was "I'm already unemployed and broke so look at me, being a trendsetter!" He paused to give me a hard stare before taking a bite of biscotti and continuing. I listened but he knows I've always been awful with money. When our grandparents would give us crisp fifties for our birthdays, Runtie would tuck hers away in her ballerina-shaped bank while I invested heavily in Ninja Turtle futures. It's no better now. She has a budget and a financial plan while I have a stack of unpaid bills and a brand new jump rope.
Anyway, our father sent us out the door with the warning that we needed to cut back and curb unnecessary spending habits, a phrase that was both repeated and directed at me as I happily circled fun things in the Toys R Us catalog. What's interesting and TOTALLY TERRIFYING is that I don't know what I can possibly 'cut back' on since my life has already been nibbled to the cuticles. It was a lot to think about on the drive back so when I got home, I made an urgent offering to Pencilqoatl, the Aztec God of Freelance Writing that perhaps a job offer will come my way soon. I just hope he liked those popcorn balls.