Her most recent book, An American Queer, a collection of “The Amazon Trail” columns, was presented with the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Society Award in Anthology/Collection Creative Non-Fiction. This, and her award-winning fiction, including The Raid, The Swashbuckler, and Beggar of Love, can be found at:
This week I went to the movies. It’s been a long time since I’ve said that. Do people even say “the movies” anymore?
I married a movie geek. My sweetheart can tell you within a nanosecond who starred in which and the director was so and so and oh they filmed that in such a place. Plus, the year.
I, on the other hand, am inclined to stay in a cozy chair and read. With my sweetheart beside me, reading or wearing earbuds and laughing at mysterious one-liners.
But last week, she definitely shocked me when she said, “I’m going to see the new Terminator next Tuesday at 2:40.”
As it happens, I have a kind of mild PTSD relationship with movie theaters. For most of my life, I was so severely allergic to corn that the very scent of the stuff popping impacted me physically and emotionally. This made movies more intensely movie-ing for me. The physical symptoms were not life-threatening. The emotional ones were both life-threatening and life-changing.
Down films and the accompanying popcorn sometimes sent me into deep depressions. Once I understood my condition, I was able to avoid them by walking out on a film like “The Godfather” before its corruption, sexism, and facile attitude toward violence made me head for the barfroom.
Up films have inspired me to test my mettle. For example, after seeing “Rocky,” I quit a job I loved, found another that freed up more of my time, and got back to writing.
It was a quandary. I have had treatments for the corn allergy, but it’s impossible for me to tell if the fumes still affect me, or if they trigger ghost reactions. Would I ruin my sweetheart’s return to movie theaters if I accompanied her and became ill? Would we grow apart if she found herself alone in theaters for the rest of her life with only a bag of popcorn for the company?
I love my wife beyond measure and want to share what she loves, as she does so well for me. Therefore, I girded myself with earplugs to moderate the sensory overload, swallowed a calming prescription drug (deep breathing in the cinema is not a good practice for me), and took a few hours off from writing to squire my sweetheart to the movies for the first time in twelve years.
So. “The Terminator.” Number six, I believe, but my first. My only previous experience with the film happened before the franchise was a franchise. I was in a stereo store having something repaired and, because the business had a sales component, I was surrounded, nay, assaulted, by sounds and moving images. I watched a TV screen in horror as a large metal robot who would later become Governor of California performed acts of greater violence than I had ever before witnessed. The soundtrack had been fine-tuned to noise level Off-the-Charts.
Of all the films in the world, this new “Terminator” was not one I could have imagined willingly watching. Fortunately, I’m a little savvier than I was thirty years ago in that stereo shop. Plus, the internet is at my disposal. I researched the heck out of the new “Terminator.”
The reviews were rock-bottom dismal. Governor Schwarzenegger was in this episode. My sweetheart warned me about violent scenes, so I determined to filter the scary parts with humor. I mean, really, turning puddles of glop into king-size killer droids? Who thought that one up?
But the promo picture was, may I say, hot? The tall androgynous woman, the sweet-looking young woman beside her, and on her other side, the Irresistible. Mature. Weathered. Woman Warrior. Someone involved in the production was quoted as saying that the lesbians wouldn’t be ready for this trio, but I gotta tell you, this lesbian was more than ready.
Tough-talking, gutsy women against a giant male machine? Oh, yeah, right up my alley. Shoot him up, ladies, bash him good. Accept some help from the Governor ‘cause he has a more intimate familiarity with terminators. Improvise fast, create weapons out of nothing, parry the blows of the violent malevolent, mindless robot and his government.
Quintessential butchy heroine, young femmey type finding herself and her strength while under attack, enraged mother avenging the loss of a child—I want to be on their team come to an apocalypse. I want them on the Supreme Court with Ruth, Sonya, and Elana. I want them, one at a time for twenty-four years, to be president.
Yes, I was a little disoriented and wobbly when we eventually left the theater, after watching until the very last credit rolled off the screen. But after this maiden voyage, me and my sweetheart, we’ll be going to the movies again.