by Dylan Wise
This story is true. Sadly.
Allow me to set up 2004 very briefly. I am 18. I am in what I like to call my Daniel Johns years (the lead singer of 90s grunge band Silverchair). An anemic thinness has overtaken my body. A physique I attribute to being in love and not a warm or healthy kind of love, the vicious kind. I play in a band, which gives me street cred but we aren't very good, back to one. Two years ago I had my mom call in sick to school for me in order to stand in line for "Attack of the Clones," I plan on doing the same thing next year for "Revenge of the Sith." I don't yet realize these are not good movies. But being the vicious lover that I am, I wait in line, I pay for tickets, I eat at a chicken place that specializes in the Kentucky fried variety in order to get the toys from the films. I soak all of this in. Obsessive is a good word for people like me. But not one toy (or three boxes worth still in my parent's basement) can match that first viewing high you get in a theater. Since 2004, this seems to be one of the only things I still hold on to. For me, it's almost a religion. My bible is IMDB and my church is the Cinema. Which in that religious context makes what happens in this story truly unholy.
It’s essentially a need to need. I do it with a lot of things; cds, toys, emotions. But the most absurd of these needs is my need to hoard DVDs. I have already set into motion a plan that will allow me to build my movie collection exponentially by adding about four to the stockpile every week for the next 10 years. “DVDs” is an actual column in my Excel worksheet budget right next to “College Loans”. I own movies I don’t even watch or really necessarily like. My prized possession in this library of unachievement? Probably my copy of “Theodore Rex” starring Whoopi Goldberg and a dinosaur that a coworker got me for Christmas. Why would a coworker buy me this? She knows me. I’m an idiot. My friend Nick and I call each other every week to see what treasures the other got on “Movie Tuesday,” a real term that we really use.
Nick: “Bro, what did you get this week?”
Me: “I went through the four for $20.00 pile and picked up a used copies of “Quantum Leap,” Season 2; “Dummy,” with the one and only Adrian Brody, “The Way of the Gun” and The “Village.”
Nick: “The Village?”
Oh yeah… “The Village.”
You know how smells have the ability to take you back to a certain place and time? If I smell fish frying in a pan I am, if even just for a second, a little kid at my grandfather’s cottage in Indiana, both impressed that my grandpa can gut a fish and horrified that my grandpa can gut a fish. The smell of certain chocolates for instance puts me right inside of an itchy Garfield costume on Halloween, sweatily segregating my candy. Well, movies do the same thing for me. Like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” will forever and eternally remind me of the girlfriend I had that cheated on me. She was hanging out with a kid named Dallas or Dakota or Duluth, I can’t be too sure. What I am very sure of, however, is when I asked how they ended up alone in the dark on his couch. She said they just put on a movie. “Ferris Bueller.” Oh no. Guess I can’t watch that movie anymore. Granted, I’m sure if I were with a girl and was watching Matthew Broderick pretending to sing in a parade (pretending, a fact I regrettably only realized recently), I might get those same crazed teen hormones that can only relieve themselves once my lips touch a new set of lips. “The Sixth Sense” was the first time I went with friends to a “scary movie”. I can still relive that feeling I had in my stomach and mind trying to come up with some excuse to leave, anything that didn’t make me sound like a, quote from childhood friend Alex Mattis, “gaywad”.
Me: “I think I have to go call my dad now.”
They didn’t buy it, the suspense was too much for me that night. And to this day when I see my copy of “The Sixth Sense” on the third row of my DVDs I am ashamed. That M. Night, he certainly knows how to raise emotions.
Oh yeah… “The Village.”
Back to 2004. I had just broken up with my girlfriend, Ferris Bueller’s mistress. I was working for what can best be described as the raddest job of all time. For whatever reason, the city of Toledo, Ohio thought employing young artists for the summer would be a worthwhile opportunity. Although this was the greatest gig a guitar-playing nerd like me could get, I doubt it had the intended outcome the city had in mind. Mobs of kids taking over the Erie Street Market on Fridays, peddling paintings and drawings to people looking for a place to eat–think of it as a less aggressive pan-handling. Add to that a bunch of assholes like me plugging in their DS-1 distortion pedals and playing grunge music for old blue hairs outside an antiques market. So there we were, Young Artists at Work. Me and my guitar playing dorks, the painters with their headphones, the print makers with their ink stained fingers and as there usually is, a girl, more specifically a sculptor.
She was the type of girl with hemp bracelets up her arm, one dread in her hair, didn’t wear a bra with her floral dress and she smoked cigarettes, like an adult. All the other musicians wanted her. Many tried and many failed. Somehow I was the lucky one to win her over and get her to talk to me. Is it because I was the best looking? Thinnest maybe. Was it my impeccable “game?” Unless that game is Scrabble, then no. But I had one of the most amazing “in’s” of all time, a conversation starter that could rival any of those that your pick-up-artist handbooks could produce. Her mom was my sixth grade teacher. I know, pretty amazing. Pulling almost all of my nerves I eventually asked her out on a date, which is strictly against my three month ‘ask a girl out’ plan. In my mind this rock-n-roll girl’s idea of a date was getting on the back of a motorcycle and going to see some Sublime tribute band. We would use fake IDs from our older siblings to get into a bar (which would be hard for me because I look almost nothing like my older sister). She would grab me by the collar of my shirt and pull me into the bathroom and kiss me with her tongue, you know, the way the French do it. We would get drunk, she would make me do shots o’ whiskey and we would have to walk home. She would sneak me into her parent’s basement and we would watch her favorite movie “Heathers,” and spend the night rubbing denim on the futon while her parents sleep one floor above us. Exciting, right? What I offered instead was a trip to Showcase Cinemas Maumee in my 1992 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Station Wagon to see the latest M. Night Shamalayn Twist-o-Rama … “The Village.”
This was my first “date”, I think. I had gone out with girls before but never out-of-the-blue date style. I wasn’t exactly sure if I was supposed to play it cool: Maybe I’ll get the door, maybe I won’t, whatever. Or be Date Dylan: Let me get that door for you madam, allow me to get that chair for you, madam. I’ll have a water and for the lady, your finest bottle of Mountain Dew. I went for overly compromising Dylan. Do you like food? What kind of food do you like? I don’t care whatever you want. I’ll eat anything as long as you don’t hate me? We decided on Jing Chuan, a Chinese restaurant that was a little out of my price range and a lot of bit on the complete other side of town. That was okay with me though because after all, she was hot and I was me. We shared egg rolls and she played footsie with me under the table. There is no doubt about it, I was awkward. We slang back some lo mien just in time to make it to the 5:35 showing. The car ride was dead silent.
The movie started out normal. We went for the seats in the back, you know where the cool kids sit, and chatted during the commercials and played the games on screen.
Screen: “Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his role playing a man who, although not conventionally smart, finds himself at many historic events.”
Sculptor: “I know, right! ‘Cast Away.’”
I’ll let that slide, she’s hot. There was slight and possibly accidental touching of pinky fingers around our shared slushee, which was–and still is–about as far as I go on a first date. The lights go down slightly, previews. Yes, I love the coming attractions! We can both give thumbs up or thumbs down after each one to signify if we will see it or not. The first one comes on screen. That green title card appears informing us that this preview, the one we’re about to see, it’s approved for all audiences. It is safe to say that I love that green title card. The Warner Brothers logo appears in black and white. Already we know this ain’t no comedy folks. The guessing game begins. A gruff voiceover comes in, he is giving a speech about searching. He walks over snow covered mountains. He says he has traveled the world looking for a feeling. He is doing martial arts. He is avenging his parents death. *Gasp* He’s BATMAN! The new Batman logo appears and words cannot do justice to relay the excitement that comes over me. I cannot wait for it to be next summer! I turn to the Sculptor to see if she has the same look of awe of her face.
Sculptor: “Another Batman movie? Lame.”
It’s okay, she’s hot.
The lights in the theater dim. This is it guys. Here we go. I didn’t quite know how or if I should tell her “you know, when the movie starts we have to stop pretending to accidentally touch fingers it will be really distracting. I mean, I am going to be pretty into this movie. Afterwards is fine, we can play footsie but not until in the car we say our favorite parts of the movie. Not just scenes but shots too.” Eh, I’ll let it slide too, I mean she’s really hot.
I should have said something because since the opening credits she’s been all over my forearm. It’s difficult to balance teenage hormones with a deep interest in a giant moving picture. But at around the beginning of the third act. Sculptor, no bra tonight, decides to speed things up. Let me say now, I am fully into this movie. I am caught up in the cinematics of a young woman and her brother, a perfectly miscast Adrian Brody, emotionally and physically struggle with faceless beasts in the woods right outside their… Village. As the tension on the screen grows so does the tension in my corduroys. This girl is very forceful. Doesn’t she know I have read like 15 articles about this movie? That me and my friends had planned on seeing it together but I blew them off to experience it with her? And here she is not even watching the screen! She attempts to put her hand near my bathing suit area. I play it off like I am adjusting in my seat, when really I am terrified and trying to get her pinky away from my… pinky. She whispers in my ear.
Sculptor: “Just let me already.”
Me: “Let you what?”
Sculptor: “Feel it.”
She said it in a tone that 18 year old me, and honestly mid-20′s year old me has never heard in the outside world. In the porn world, of course, but here? In my movie temple? Such a whispery, wanting, adult, but albeit, very compelling tone has no place in my cinema unless of course it’s Mena Suvari to Kevin Spacey. But this was my moment to be with the sculptor. I could tell my musician friends and be King Dork for the summer. All I had to do was turn my attention away from the screen, turn off my nerd mind and get down to business. Her hand undoes my studded belt. But the silver screen… She reaches into my pants. I had probably seen 400 movies by this point. Into my boxers. Was this one really worth throwing away a hand job for? Grabs my erect juvenile penis. I turn to Sculptor. She is biting her bottom lip. Oh come on! This isn’t even fair. I say the first thing that comes to my mind but not right away, I say it quietly and hesitantly, I know it’s the wrong thing to say.
Me: “I think I know what the twist is. I mean, in with the Village people, the people of the village- trails off-”
I have never seen a face more confused and angry all at the same time. Her grip loosens. I turn slowly back toward the screen. This is when I just can’t look away and for the first time and it’s not because Bryce Dallas Howard is about to get into some crazy shit. I don’t think I can handle seeing Sculptor pull her hand out of my pants and wipe the tiny bit of premature ejaculate from her hand onto the seat. She thankfully doesn’t desecrate the theater chairs and instead wipes it on my pants. She stands up. I do my belt buckle and wipe my pants, thinking “oh yeah, sure, this should wipe off just like Doritos.”
Me: “Where are you going?”
Sculptor: Inaudible (either out of actually not hearing or not wanting to hear)
She walks three rows down and sits next to two women. Strange, I thought. But not as strange as what’s going on in this Village! After about 10 minutes of me looking at the screen, looking down at the back of her head, panicking and looking back at the screen: credits. Oh no. I can’t hide in the dark anymore. I am going to have to see her and worse yet she is going to have to see me. She walks out with the mass exodus of people leaving.
Man, I hope she doesn’t notice me. No such luck, she’s standing right by the Area 51 arcade game. Arms crossed. She looks mad. The mob shifts and I see standing next to her two women the one on the right doesn’t look familiar then I see the one to the left it’s Mrs. Sculptor, her mom, my sixth grade teacher.
Mrs. Sculptor: “Dylan Wise! Sculptor said she was coming with you.”
Me: Inaudible panicked mumbles.
Mrs. Sculptor: “Give me a hug! I haven’t seen you in years!”
I don’t like hugs to begin with. I find them weird and confining, but hugs with crusty cum on your hand patting the back of the woman who helped you with your multiplication tables is one of the worst feelings in the world. We make small talk. Mrs. Sculptor and her friend are going out to dinner. We aren’t invited. That’s alright with me, I have dried jizz on my palm from your daughters insistence, a trip to the Outback isn’t really on my radar right now, bloomin’ onion or not.
Ethan Alter from NYCFilmCritic.com said about The Village “Shyamalan can’t bring himself to abandon the familiar. Until he does, however, he’s just going to keep coming back with diminishing results.” Yep, that is exactly how she described our date to the rest of the sculptors. I just pray to my movie Jesus I don’t have to see her at work the next day. I felt dirty. I felt gross. I felt I had sinned against the cinema. I do however feel like I served my penance later on in life having to sit through “The Happening.”
—- here is a picture of me circa 2004.