While visiting a movie rental store last week, I was treated to a boisterous display of relationship difficulty. A couple of early 20-somethings wandered in to choose the night’s entertainment, but it was soon obvious to me—and everyone in the store—that they’d be better off with a late-night counseling session.
“I am not watching another stupid horror movie with you!”
It took me a second to realize the sound was coming from a customer instead of the continual movie previews shown on televisions mounted around the store.
“You liked the first ‘Saw,’” said a male voice, somewhat defensively.
“It was stupid and I left half way through it!” The woman walked into my view. She grabbed a DVD from the wall nearby. “This one looks funny. You like Mandy Moore.”
Her boyfriend sauntered over. He was tall and lanky, wearing a black t-shirt decorated with a dragon smoking a cigarette. A tattoo of barbed wire encircled his arm. I didn’t know the guy, but I was guessing that he wasn’t looking for a romantic comedy.
“No way,” he grimaced. “That’s a girl movie.”
I grinned and started to move away, but not before I heard the girlfriend’s reply. “I thought you liked movies with girls in them. What’s the matter? You afraid she’s not gonna get naked in this one?”
I suddenly remembered something I needed to see on the exact opposite side of the store. There was another television over here, and an older gentleman stood watching the previews. We exchanged smiles. I picked up a new release that had garnered a lot of award nominations. Hmmm. . .
“So you’re telling me you want me to watch porn with you?! Is that what you’re saying?!”
Aw, Jeez. It was like I was being stalked by irritable cats.
“Sure. Why not?” Ah. The boyfriend’s ignorance seemed to be the primary propulsion mechanism for the argument. He was now holding up a DVD jacket. The plot of the movie, judging from the cover art, involved big-haired, big-bosomed women trying to ride motorcycles in spite of the fact that their bikini tops were in the process of coming off—or perhaps the fabric was disintegrating due to the tremendous heat caused by the women inexplicably riding their bikes through flames. However, their hair was holding up remarkably well.
The girlfriend, her perm-damaged hair waving around her ala Drew Barrymore in Steven King’s “Fire Starter,” marched angrily by the nice older gentleman and grabbed a movie from a nearby shelf. “Fine!” she said, in a loud, high-pitched tone that meant exactly the opposite. “Let’s get this one! At least guys get naked in this one!”
“Brokeback Mountain?” asked he of the smoking dragon shirt. “No way. That ain’t right.”
“Sure it is,” argued Bad Perm, her voice full-throttle. “That way I can enjoy myself, too! Cause I can guarantee both these guys look a hell of a lot better naked than you!”
The old guy and I raced each other to the checkout counter. I didn’t know what movies I was carrying, and I didn’t care.
“Good evening,” said the cashier, seemingly oblivious to the shouting match in the corner. “Can I see your membership c—“
“Here, take it!” I said, thrusting my card and a $20 bill at her. She slowly started punching numbers into her cash register. The door beside me rang and a man entered holding his little girl by the hand. He took one look at the couple in the corner and left.
“—just because I don’t wanna watch some dumb Mandy Moore movie, now suddenly you got a thing against naked women.”
“Oh, don’t be stupid!”
“Can I just verify your phone number?” That was the clerk again, sounding bored. I gave her my phone number.
“Fine! Get your stupid girl movie! And I’ll get my biker movie!”
“They’re not bikers! They’re hookers on Hondas!”
(I would have said “Hookers on Hondas in Hell.”)
“Ms. Dove? If you would just sign this?” I looked up at the unconcerned clerk, wondering what it would take for her to notice the couple that everyone in the store was now watching lest they suddenly break out weapons.
I signed the paper, then asked if she felt safe. She sighed. “People do that all the time in here. You’d be amazed.”
Later I thought about all those reality matchup shows. Are the producers aware of this relationship hurdle? On episode 12, does the Bachelorette take the top 5 contestants to the movie store? And afterward, do the eliminated contestants talk about in those cheesy private interviews with the show’s host? “Yeah, Bob, I was pretty psyched about the whole movie store thing. I felt like Sheila and I were really hitting it off, you know? And then when we pulled our choices out from behind our backs, and I saw her holding ‘Terms of Endearment,’ well, I knew I was out. She took one look at ‘Killer Lesbian Mechanics II,’ and the look in her eyes said it all.”
If you’re looking for entertainment tonight, I strongly suggest a trip to the movie store.
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Angela Dove is an award-winning humor columnist and author the true crime book, No Room for Doubt: A True Story of the Reverberations of Murder (Penguin, 2009). For more information visit www.AngelaDove.com