Monday, August 9, 2010

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Mary and I went to see Dinner for Schmucks this weekend. Allow me to give you a lightning quick synopsis so you’ll better understand the details.

Tim (Paul Rudd) is an aspiring executive who’s invited to a dinner with other execs at the big boss’s place. The catch is, everyone has to bring an idiot for the group to laugh at. Barry (Steve Carell), a man who creates dioramas with dead mice, is Tim’s idiot. OK, moving on.

It’s a matinee, so the theater is not crowded in the least. 2 ladies in their seventies hobble in and look around for a seat. There are over 100 unoccupied seats all over the theater, yet they choose to sit in the seat right next to me. Mary and I look at each other as if to say, “Seriously?”

Now, I’m a big guy. When I’m at the movies, I need a little space to spread out. And in a theater that’s less than a third full, that shouldn’t be an issue. But Granny Moses has already made herself comfortable, including commandeering my armrest. This is not going to be good.

As the previews begin, she says to her friend (loudly), “I hope this is good. Carol said it looked like it would be good. But she told us that that 2012 movie was good, and I thought it was just awful.”

Her friend looks at her and asks, “What 2012 movie?”

“You remember, the one about the end of the world.”

“Did we see it together? I don’t remember that.”

“Yes we saw it together! Don’t you remember? Carol was going to go with us but she didn’t get back from the doctor’s office in time to meet us.”

“What was she at the doctor for?”

At this point, Mary leans forward and gives them “the look,” which they completely don’t get.

When Steve Carell makes his first appearance, my seat buddy remarks out loud to her friend, “He’s so funny. I just love him.”

Mary squeezes my leg.

The movie progresses, and the screen fills with close-ups of Barry’s elaborate dioramas — dead mice dressed as little people in suits, ties, hats, and glasses, in realistic surroundings.

In the darkness I hear, “Awww… aren’t those cute? I’d like to have some of those to put out on my coffee table.”

Dear God, make it stop.

In one scene Barry says his wife left him because he lost her clitoris. When pressed for details, he explains, “I don’t know, but she was always mad because I couldn’t find it.”

Granny Moses leans toward her friend and says, “What did he say he lost?”

“I think he said he lost someone named Doris.”

“Oh. I bet that’s his wife’s name.”

By now Mary and I are in tears, shaking with laughter.

The movie eventually ends and as the credits roll, Barry brings the audience up to speed (with dioramas, of course) on what’s taken place since the movie ended. One of the happily-ever-afters is that Barry has a new lady friend. And with tiny dead mice in a bedroom diorama on the screen, he proudly reports that he’s been able to find her clitoris.

“Oh, good!” my neighbor says. “He found Doris.”



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Girly Man

OK, I admit it. I’m a little different than other guys. Most of the guys I know like to talk about guy things. Manly things. Who’s playing in the PGA. How to repair a clutch on a ’79 Mustang. Which college team is the top seed (whatever that means). I don’t know anything about automotive repair and I loathe sports, so I’m no help in either of those areas. I am, however, knowledgeable and competent if you’re looking to repurpose a door as a headboard, find an area rug that goes with your artwork, or prepare a delicious pot of Coq au Vin.

I have an idea where this mindset and behavior might have come from. I was the youngest of 4 children, the one child that my mother had vowed to raise herself, without help from her mother. Consequently I spent a lot of time with Mom doing things like laundry and cooking. When I graduated from US Army boot camp, I was the only one of 50 or so guys who knew how to iron my Class A uniform. And the first week Mary and I were married, she was shocked that I hung my clothes up or put them in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor or the couch.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not apologizing for being this way. I love the fact that I can tell a female coworker her shoes are cute and mean it. I think it’s great that I can breeze through the grocery store while other guys are hopelessly lost because they don’t know what a leek looks like or where the sliced almonds are. I find humor in the blank looks on other men’s faces in flea markets and antique shops as their wives chatter excitedly about finials and chargers and curios and settees, and the husbands’ faces practically shout, “What the hell is she talking about?”

Not only do I know exactly what the wives are talking about, I know that the punched tin lamp and the Victorian quilt she’s buying are going to look positively hideous in the contemporary bedroom she’s been talking about. Fine. I admit that I have definite opinions about interior design. I also admit that I like to shop (yes, really). I admit that I get excited about French imported soap. And yes, I admit that I’m dying to see Eat, Pray, Love.

At the end of the day, though, I’m still a guy. I still love a good action movie with plenty of gunfire, explosions, and naked women running around, but I’m equally happy watching Phantom of the Opera. I still play air guitar — badly — to .38 Special and Aerosmith, but the beauty of the theme from Schindler’s List brings tears to my eyes no matter how many times I hear it. I still love pizza and an ice-cold beer, but I get positively giddy when my crème brulée turns out just right.

I consider myself fortunate to enjoy both ends of the spectrum, both hemispheres of the delicate yin/yang balance. I'm sure some of my manly-man friends will have trouble understanding that. Some men have preconceived notions about guys that like to shop and decorate and cook. But that's OK. They're entitled to their opinion. I'll even help them out the next time they're in the grocery store and can't find ginger root.