Have you ever gone to the movies with your kid and realized, much to your surprise, that the man who directed and starred in the piece is someone you’ve been, uh, intimate with? Like you’ve had that guy’s tongue in your mouth and his hands have been… well, places?
Oh, phew, I was worried I was the only one.
Well, for those of you who may not know what this experience is like, let me fill you in.
Still on our East Coast spring break “vacation” Hannah and I, along with our friends, went to the science center in New Jersey for a little educational fun.
You know, some hands-on exhibits, interactive bacteria stations, computer animated colons, climbing structures and an IMAX theater showing a few awe-inspiring films.
The girls decided they wanted to see the movie about tornadoes. Now, I like to think I’m up to speed on things, hip, current—but I have to admit I knew nothing about this film, the filmmakers, the show Storm Chasers or anything else that has to do with wind blowing.
Believe me, if I had I might have opted for the story about the woman and the gorillas. I know for a fact I’ve never made out with her.
But, here we were, tickets in hand, and ready to go inside (along with hundreds of screaming, wild seventh and eighth graders).
We took our seats near the tip top and settled right smack in the middle of the row. Choosing these seats says, “I’m not going anywhere. I am here for the whole show. I won’t even get up to pee. I’m committed.”
So, there we were. My daughter by my side, excited to see a movie that would give her the experience of what it might be like to be inside a tornado, and me, wishing I brought some sickness pills.
That’s right, folks, this gal gets car sick, air sick, sea sick and IMAX sick. I even had to close my eyes at the Griffith Observatory. So sad.
To make matters worse, around us, next to us, behind us and in front of us were the unruly group of teenagers clearly on a school field trip. Like prisoners let out on parole, these kids were shouting, laughing, texting, and putting their damn feet on the seats.
Sometimes, and I hate to say it, I really hate other people’s kids.
The lights dimmed, and the first thing on the screen was “A Film By Sean—” holy friggin’ buckets of big balls! I know that guy! I grew up down the street from that guy! And, years later I got naked with that guy!
Now, of course, I said none of this out-loud. This mini tornado was only occurring inside my brain. How appropriate.
My daughter must have heard me slip out a minor yelp because she looked at me curiously.
‘You okay Mom? You’re not already sick are you?”
“No, no. I’m fine. It’s just… I grew up down the street from the guy who made this movie.”
Her eyes lit up, and she went ahead and whispered it to her friend next to her and then her friend leaned over and whispered it to her mom and then her mom looked over at me and I sheepishly smiled, and nodded.
For the next 45 minutes I was not only watching this guy in IMAX but reliving in my mind our entire history in 3D.
We knew each other as children, and when we were 22 years old we reconnected when he rented a room out of my mother’s house. Our interaction was brief, but there was wine and movies and a lot of making out.
He listened to REM and drove a Pathfinder and wore cool, black shoes.
And, in those days, I didn’t know you could get naked with someone without thinking you had to be in love with them too so since I got naked first, I decided to convince myself of the latter later.
I might have scared him just a tad with my quick obsession. Oh, who am I kidding, I freaked the poor guy out by pulling a bit of a Glen Close on his ass. That’s right, I spooked that young man right out of my mom’s house and clearly into the easier, softer, less dangerous life of chasing tornadoes.
And now here he was before my eyes in a New Jersey IMAX theater. A little older, a lot balder, and a storm chaser. Good for him.
I don’t know what was more shocking to me—the fact that he was in this movie or the fact that until that moment I had completely forgotten ever knowing him. I mean, it’s not like I have a super long list of lovers. How could I have forgotten an entire person like that?
It made me wonder, who else have I erased from my memory? What other faces are out there living life who I have blanked out on?
So, now, not only am I sitting next to my sweet daughter watching a flick starring a dude I once swapped spit with, I’m silently counting in my head every guy I have ever known. And panicking that I have forgotten someone else.
And just as I was on my second hand, two eighth graders behind me shouted, “Yo, who wants to play truth or dare?!” And then—WHOOSH—I’m looking at the screen and we’re about to enter the tornado and everything is making me dizzy and I think I might throw up.
Eight years in the making and my childhood friend, a momentary lover, the filmmaker captured a tornado and for one minute he, and all of us, got to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the eye of the storm.
And best part of all… I didn’t puke.
The lights came on and we made our way out of the theatre. I looked back at the screen one last time and smiled.
Next time the wind blows I know who I’ll think of. And this time I won’t forget.