By Chef PeteCampbellisaG
It started on IMDB forums – the place where intelligent film discussion goes to die. Sure you could get one or two people to respond if you posted an interesting question or theory about a film. But what really got people going were spoilers. But you can’t just put “DARTH VADER IS LUKE’S FATHER!!!,” or “WTF?!? VERBAL IS KEYSER SOZE!!” right in the subject line, that’s too easy – plus these days the moderators will catch it first. What I’ve learned is that you have to trick people – start with a nice lead-in – the more academic the better. For example:
“…So I understood the film to be a decisive commentary on modern definitions of manhood, the way in which societal pressures and our own personal sense of manhood loop back on each other in a destructive cycle…Which is why I was so surprised when Edward Norton’s character and Tyler Durden turned out to be the same person!”
You can drink the hatred. My favorite thing to do on a Friday night was to torrent a new release and suffer the poor quality CAM rip just so I could bombard message boards with all the juicy plot details. By Saturday morning my name would be on everyone’s lips. By Sunday night they’d be sending me death threats. There were a million things people could be doing: sleeping with their girlfriends, taking care of their kids, learning a second language, doing their taxes – all that time would be gone and I was the one eating it up. The curses, the emails, even a few angry Vine videos, all directed at me. Taking people’s time, no matter how little, felt like taking a piece of their lives. Like dropping a dollar in the street, it was mine and they could never get it back.
If you could channel the rage people felt when you told them Gwen Stacey dies in Spider-Man 2, or that the last episode of Lost made no sense, you could probably solve world hunger.
Then again, world hunger is boring.
I was in the park on MacBook, stealing WiFi from the coffee shop across the street and, creating a new user ID for JoBlo.com (I’ve been banned from hundreds of message boards and subreddits) when I noticed a man standing near the fountain. His was fidgeting around and wearing an unseasonably thick jacket. At first my mind flashed to the thought that he might be a shooter psyching himself up for a rampage. I imagined him pulling a twelve-gauge Mossberg out from under that coat and opening fire indiscriminately into the passing joggers.
That’s when he took the ring box out of his pocket. He opened it just enough to peer inside, then shoved it back into his pocket, like looking at it too long might turn him to stone. Then he started pacing again, shuffling his feet like he was trying to wear a hole in the concrete.
I didn’t put two and two together until I saw the woman coming. She wasn’t very hot but she was made up well and had on a safe, conservative skirt suit. She was probably talking a lunch break from her office job. I watched her apprehension as she approached the guy. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he was drawing closer to her.
When I saw his hand go into his pocket, the words came out of my mouth like a reflex. His knee hadn’t even started to bend, but I shouted out loud enough that everyone in the park stopped cold:
“HE’S GOING TO ASK YOU TO MARRY HIM!!”
You can see a shooting star, a volcanic eruption, the Grand Canyon, or even a child being born, but nothing will ever come close to the beauty and splendor of that couple’s face. The sting and the sweet awkward confusion – like a heavy metal guitar solo breaking out at a classic ballet. The man’s entire body slumped like his bones had given up on him, his coat fell away, revealing the expensive tuxedo he’d hidden underneath. You could hear the woman’s heart snap.
I’d meant to post spoilers on the new Tom Cruise actioner that night and the big twist in the latest Batman comic book arc, but I completely forgot. Thinking of that woman’s tears and the stupid frustration on her fiance’s face was like a warm bear blanket and a hot cup of milk.
I still dabble on message boards. Sure people get angry when you spoil the ending of the new Disney movie (and I’m sure kids cry) but no text, no matter how many exclamation points you put in it, can match the dull droop a man’s face takes on when you tell his date he was at the same restaurant with another woman the previous night. Or the pure hatred that reddens a woman’s face when you tell her you phoned her boyfriend about the surprise party you got invited to on Facebook.
Online people call me a troll. IRL I get called names that would shame the Devil.
I used to hate my job at the hospital. But now I can’t believe how much opportunity I’ve wasted in the past. Nurse techs can go anywhere and it’s easy to overhear things. Pregnancies, cancer diagnoses, surgery complications, even deaths could be revealed in a whisper by peeking your head into a hospital room.
I remember one particular family best. The father had had a heart attack. I overheard the ragged voices of doctors and staff as he flatlined in the ICU.
I found the family outside in the waiting room. They were all a bit overweight, just waiting their turn for a heart attack. They were huddled together like one big mass, sobbing all over each other with tears that probably tasted like gravy.
I’d gotten fired but it was worth it, the ceremonious bawling that broke out among them when I gave them was orgasmic.
I’ve been following this woman home from Trader Joe’s regularly for about five weeks now. I didn’t pick her for any particular reason. But there’s something about a woman in Lululemons.
She’s pretty fit, carrying three bags worth of veggies and bottled water, but I’m used to being on my feet. Once a week she makes her grocery run, walks about a quarter mile, then finally rounds a corner and takes a walk up to an apartment building. I linger behind long enough for her to disappear inside, then sprint for all I’m worth to catch the door before it closes.
The inside is a long hallway of doors – scummy carpet that should’ve been replaced ten years ago. The first time I couldn’t tell which of the dozen or so evenly spaced doors she went inside at first, but as I walk the hall I heard rustling behind an apartment door paper grocery bags being crumpled up.
She’ll be going for groceries again this weekend. This time I’m going to get up the nerve. I’m going to take a chance and knock. I got pretty close to her in Trader Joe’s last time. Up close she’s shorter than I thought and a good five to ten years older. I had her pegged for early twenties but she’s got the sun dried face of someone almost twice that age – damn those Lululemons.
I can already see it. She’ll open the door. Maybe she’ll think I’m some sort of delivery man because of the overalls I wear. Maybe she’ll even give me a friendly smile. I’ll wonder how many people are lucky enough to see that smile every day.
I barely know her voice, but I can hear it so clearly in my head as she sticks her head of her apartment.
“Can I help you?”
She’ll look at me with her soft narrow eyes. The same ones she looks at all of her friends and family with.
And this time she’ll be talking to me. I can already feel my fist white knuckle around the kitchen knife I’ll have in my pocket.
I feel my face tightening into a wide grin, imagining searching through the contacts on her phone, finding her friends on Facebook. Maybe she even has a Twitter or an Instagram where she posts selfies of herself in her yoga pants. Maybe she has a boyfriend or fiance who’ll be stopping by.
So many people. I can’t wait.
I can’t wait to tell them how this one ends.