Horror in Clairemont

  • Barbarella

There are no good girls gone wrong, just bad girls found out.

-- Mae West

Jen and I sat on the bench in the entryway to the theater. We rested our backs against a poster for a new adapted comic-book flick starring Nicholas Cage. For a Friday night, the place was desolate. Then again, it was only 4 p.m. I elbowed Jen and, with wild eyes, called her attention to a group of ladies walking in the door. Their pitch-black, canary-yellow, and carrot-orange hair soared high above their heads (I suspected Aqua-Net), their lips were hot pink, and their eyelids were a striking sky blue. I had no doubt that if I was to shout, "Gladys, Ethel, Marge!" at least one of them, smacking gum in her mouth, would trot on over and say, "What can I do ya for, hon?"

Clairemont was alien to me, but I welcomed the change. I'd grown accustomed to the cookie-cutter, tits-on-a-stick bimbettes of Fashion Valley who are forever remaking themselves into clones of Hollywood's Miss Moron of the Moment. This theater couldn't have been more than five miles from Fashion Valley, but it felt as though I'd been plucked from Anywhere, Southern California, and dropped into Bowling Alley, Middle America.

Jen chose the theater because of its proximity to her house, which is where we'd agreed to meet before the movie. Because her man can't handle horror (a predicament to which I can relate -- David won't even watch Scary Movie , which is only a spoof of the genre), Jen asked me to join her in watching some freaky looking film called The Messengers, about a paranormal-sensing kid. The preview on rottentomatoes.com looked unimpressive at best, but because of the hotness factor of Dylan McDermott and the amusement potential of the hokey dialogue, I accepted her invitation with enthusiasm.

The flasks were Jen's idea. Leave it to a redhead to add a dash of naughty spice to an otherwise innocent brunette excursion. I chastised myself for not having thought of it first, even though alcohol has only recently replaced more adventurous substances as my drug of choice. Flasks are so convenient, so functional, how is it that I don't own one? Luckily, Jen had several to choose from, and a fully stocked liquor cabinet.

Jen selected two shiny silver canisters and produced a funnel from a kitchen cabinet. When she asked me to choose my poison, I stared dumbly at the vast selection. I know drinks by their bar names only, things like "cosmopolitan" and "chocolate monkey." I don't know what goes in them because I never have to make them. I recognized the Maker's Mark bottle because that's the one David gets each year and fills (he would say "infuses") with vanilla beans, caramelized figs, and cinnamon. All I know about the beverage is that it's not vodka. Jen saw me eyeing the label, grabbed the bottle, and began funneling. "This will be great with coke," she said. My ears perked up for a moment but then I realized she was talking about the soda. Probably for the best , I thought. I hate it when people talk during movies.

For the second flask, I chose Baileys Irish Cream, a fallback in case I didn't like the movie-theater cocktail Jen had planned for the other stuff. I often have a glass of Baileys on the rocks while flying, so I knew it would be safe to drink straight (by "safe," I mean it wouldn't make me gag or hack as most anything hard on its own tends to do).

"We won't have to worry about spending lotsa money on stale popcorn, because..." I said, digging around in my purse. "I packed us a nut sack!" I lifted a large Ziploc baggie filled with roasted almonds and peanuts and let out a high-pitched cackle. Jen smiled crookedly and lifted her eyebrows as if to say, "Are we 12?"

I never let on that I agree with David when he says I'm uptight, but I do. I mean, I am. Uptight, that is. It didn't matter that it was early on a weekday, or that the show we were going to see appeared only as a faint blip on the buzz radar -- it was opening day, so I needed to be there at least an hour early. Jen and I nestled into our seats (well, she seemed to nestle, while I made sure none of my exposed skin came into contact with the contaminated fabric on the seat or armrests).

Jen had never been to a movie with me before, so I felt compelled to share my Personal Pre-Show Countdown. "See, we have 45 minutes before the movie starts. So in 20, no, in 25...actually, 20 is best because then I'll want to go again before the previews, which should be in another 10 after that, but anyway, I'm going to go to the bathroom in 20 minutes, and then again 10 minutes before the movie. Okay?" Jen eyed me warily, as if she was Sigourney Weaver, and I was a dark room from which she expected an alien monster to suddenly appear, shrieking and gnashing its fangs. Then she reached into her bag and retrieved a flask.

"Ah, good idea," I said, pining for normalcy. There were only four other people in the theater, and they were five rows in front of us. Still, I bit the inside of my cheek in apprehension while Jen poured some of the not-vodka into my soda. When the flask disappeared again, my sigh of relief was so loud that two of the people in front turned around. I took a sip. It tasted like spicy cinnamon soda. "Aw, man, this is totally going to throw off my pee schedule," I grumbled. Jen smiled politely, as if she knew exactly what I meant.

Minutes before the movie began, a gaggle of girls filled the first two rows, giggling and chattering on their cell phones. When the title sequence rolled, the phones were still glowing. Just as I'd suspected, despite my pre-pees, a quarter of my drink and a light buzz into the movie, I had to go. Coincidentally, my bladder and the other patrons' patience for the noisy, fidgety girls up front reached their capacity at the same time -- I'm not the only one who had to go.

Someone had already made a preemptive complaint before the film rolled and the girls had been warned. On my way to the restroom, I flagged down a theater employee and said, "Yo, theater 14, chicks up front won't shut it." By the time I returned to my seat, they were gone, and loudly whispered "Thank you's" came from every direction. I snuck out the flask of Baileys, took a swig, and made myself as comfortable as I could while still keeping a safe distance from the germ-infested seat beneath me.

"Man, that movie sucked," I said as we exited the theater. Before we made it as far as the main entrance, we bumped into two little old ladies.

"Do you know what this movie is about?" asked the one with blue hair. She gestured at the marquees, which was scrolling " Pursuit of Happyness ."

"I think it's a Will Smith movie," I said. "Something about a guy -- true story, I read it in a magazine -- who was, like, homeless or something and had a kid, but he perseveres and prevails. I haven't seen it, but I heard it's good."

"What do you think, Trudy?" Blue Hair asked her blonde buddy. "How about this one next?"

"Sure, why not?"

I turned and whispered to Jen, "Oh, my God, they're theater hopping! I bet they've been here all day doing a movie marathon on the same ticket."

Jen watched the ladies disappear into the darkness and said, "I wonder what they've got in those big purses."

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