Avengers: Infinity War was a long movie: 160 minutes or so. After a long movie, there is often a general rush to the rest room, followed by an increasingly uncomfortable wait among a crowd of men who are studiously avoiding eye contact, because that would, given our common purpose here, only make things more uncomfortable. Eventually, the wait ends, and I take my place facing the wall.
And then, two of the very things that (hopefully) make me a passable movie critic — an awareness of social dynamics combined with an ability to put myself in the other fellow’s shoes — combine to bring about the minor but exquisite suffering of paruresis. All that mindless felt need in the horde behind me… it’s like that scene in Train to Busan where the guy has to crawl silently through the baggage racks above the semi-dormant zombies crowding the train car below. Except he has motor control on his side.
It’s also like that scene in 10 where Dudley Moore finally gets Bo Derek into bed and then can’t perform.* I have endured so much to get to this point, and yet my triumph is denied me. Yes, I know that paruresis happens to a lot of guys, just like the Other Thing. In neither case is that any kind of consolation, It’s my recalcitrant bladder that’s at issue here, not “a lot of guys.” Besides, in this case, consciousness of a common plight is precisely the problem.
It’s also like that scene in The Incredibles where Mrs. Incredible is telling Violet that she has to activate her powers now because there are missiles targeting the plane they’re on and there isn’t time for discussion and she just has to do it but of course she can’t because she’s frozen up with anxiety. But later, when she doesn’t have time to actually think about the situation, she’s able to function just fine.
What I’m saying is, at that moment, I could very much use a movie to distract me from myself and others. Or any kind of video, really. I’d even watch an ad. Say, that’s an idea: motion-activated video screens above urinals, playing ads to the most dedicated eyeballs on earth. (Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, they stared just in front of them, dreaded and wondered…) Call it WallEye.
*In checking this, I learned that I was mistaken. Moore proves impotent with an old acquaintance, not the uber-hottie Derek. But that’s not the way my newly pubescent brain formatted the horror way back when.