The Cameron Column #118
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Out with the Boys
Copyright 2000 W. Bruce Cameron

      It's Saturday night, and I'm out on the town with the boys.

      Now when I say "the boys," I mean the boys, males who have logged in little more than a decade apiece on the planet. My son has invited me to go with him to the movies, one of those generous "oh and can you drive and can you pay for my ticket and buy everyone popcorn?" type of invitations which are so hard to refuse.

      During the drive to the theater, the boys are so manic I'm certain that if they weren't strapped down in their seats they'd be bouncing around the inside of the minivan like astronauts aboard the space shuttle. Everyone is shouting at once, with the general theme seeming to center around bodily processes which produce odors. Amazingly, my son and his friends appear to have catalogued an entire week's worth of classroom flatulence, as in "Remember Tommy's on Tuesday?" I gather it was quite memorable, and as I catch sight of Tommy in my review mirror, he is preening proudly like the peacock with the best feathers. As we pull into the theater parking lot, the gang is engaged in a raucous debate over which animal would produce the all-time worst farts: a walrus, a pig, or a brontosaurus.

      I buy snacks for everyone; the tab is only slightly less than when I took my wife out to dinner for our 20th wedding anniversary. We take our seats and the boys began feverishly consuming popcorn; it sounds as if a herd of cattle has stumbled into a field of granola. So much cola is spilled onto the floor that the people seated in the rows in front of us can only be described as "downstream."

      If you can judge the quality of the movie you're about to see by the nature of the previews before it, chances are I'm in for a real treat--every coming attraction seems to feature explosions and helicopters. The straw poll among the boys is that these movies look "awesome." Whispering among themselves, they decide they want to come back next weekend. Everyone is invited, even me because, well, I can drive.

      During a brief clip that implies that maybe there are people, and not just burning machines, in one of the films, a young actress turns to look at the camera. "What a babe!" cries a boy named Shane sitting to my left.

      There's instant silence, and I understand that some grave rule has just been violated. Realizing his error, the young heretic immediately sinks into his seat, avoiding the shocked stares of his friend. Nothing short of letting loose with a brontosaurus fart will save him now.

      The movie begins. Apparently it's about decapitation. Every time someone is killed in some gruesome fashion, the boys all whisper "cool!" A woman is in some sort of trouble, I gather, having offended a group of cold-blooded killers with the worst aim in the history of gunpowder. Our hero is assigned to protect her, which he does by driving her around to old warehouses filled with mobsters.

      "I hope she gets shot!" Shane whispers forcefully. The boys eye him with contempt; they're not fooled.

      Then we're thrown into a crisis when the boys realize that just a few rows behind us are two girls from their class. "Oh no!" everyone keeps saying. They keep twisting around in their seats, the movie completely forgotten. "Who told them we'd be here?" my son demands. Everyone glares at Shane. It doesn't occur to them that maybe the girls showed up for any reason other than to torment them--to see the movie, for example.

      The film doesn't end, it just runs out of ammunition. We wade through the spilled popcorn and out into the lobby, where the girls are waiting as if by accident. The boys act as if this is the first they've realized the females are even there. "Wasn't the movie awesome?" one of the boys demands. They jabber excitedly, acting out death scenes, falling to the carpet. The girls giggle appreciatively. We stay until the girls' ride shows up.

      "How was it?" my wife asks later.

      "The perfect date movie," I tell her.

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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 2000
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