And when I looked up, I immediately wish I hadn’t.
I hadn’t been assigned to any reviews this past week, but I still wanted to get a good glimpse at the latest J.J. Abrams creation: Super 8. Now, I’m really divided on this J.J. guy. I think he’s stuck in some limbo between Spielberg and the few missing t puzzle pieces of Lost that he’s probably still searching under the couch for. I think he’s got some stuff up his sleeve, he just doesn’t know what shirt that sleeve is on. And, as I told Cormac as we drove over, we hadn’t had a chance to just hang out recently.
Cormac’s At-Home Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurship had been going really well and he hadn’t been around much for the past week because he had to go all the way out to Riverside. Without anyone to judge me, I lounged around in boxers, ate entire frozen pizzas and watched Law and Order: SVU for the better part of the week.
“Good,” he said as we drove over, “I’m glad you’re at least getting over Ricky.”
We laughed at that.
But the truth was I had also spent the better part of this last week stalking through Ricky’s Facebook. Every update that was mildly optimistic was a viscous stab. She liked people’s statuses? She became a fan of Taylor Swift? Was she just liking them to prove to me that she was just peaches n cream without me?
And she’d changed her profile picture from the webcam photos we took to some bullshit picture of her having fun. She was trying to get to me. Well, fuck her! And I proceeded to go to change my profile picture, only to realize that all my pictures had her in it.
So on Saturday, Cormac and I bought an unhealthy quantity of junk food, smuggled it into the theater like they were drugs over the border and sat down for some Super 8. The previews hadn’t even started when my life was shot to hell.
Cormac tapped me on the shoulder and pointed across the theater.
It was Rufus. Rufus with the so-hip-so-underground moccasins. Rufus with the stubble that was always perfectly macho and never mountain man. Rufus, who had been our first fight. Rufus who had been our last fight.
The first fight had been when we were out at this little Mexican restaurant called El Patio. We’d been dating for about two months and I had eased my way out of my uncomfortable, “I’m going to keep talking so this doesn’t feel awkward” stage. We just enjoyed each other then. We talked movies. We talked people. We talked plans for the future. Things that twenty two year olds talk about. She was thinking of doing a Master’s program.
“What for?” I asked.
“To delay the inevitable. It’s the only real reason anyone gets one.”
I didn’t get a chance to answer because stupid Rufus walked in. Ricky saw him first and I only noticed him because her eyes shifted away from me to the door as the bell rang and her eyes got huge.
I looked over my shoulder and saw him standing there with a girl and two other guys.
He looked like a guy who would shop at Urban Outfitters and then tell you that he found his clever T-shirt and faded skinny jeans at some really hip store in Greenwich Village. The type who’s “friend gave him a free tattoo” because he’s trying to become a tattoo artist.
Ricky looked away but Rufus had seen her. He smiled, excused himself from his group and walked over to our table.
“Hey there, Ricky! Long time no see.”
He opened his arms in a “give me a hug” gesture. She smiled and obliged him with one from his seat. I sat there over my enchilada, confused but knowing that I was not cool with this guy swooping in like a hipster hawk dressed H&M chic.
It took them fifteen minutes to catch up while I picked at the chips and pretended I had really urgent text messages to attend to. He finally turned to me and said:
“So, you her gay friend?”
I laughed and shook my head. Shit, he had a sense of humor.
“Nope. Boyfriend. But I can see how you could be confused.”'
I didn’t even know what that meant.
“Nah, it’s cool. I’m all for gays anyway. Sorry on my part, man. That was hateful of me.”
He was politically active. God damn it.
Ricky stepped in quickly. “This is Sam. We started going out like two months ago.”
“That’s cool.” Rufus turned back to Ricky. “Well, see you later, Ricky.” He hugged her again and went and sat with his friends in a corner booth.
Ricky pushed food around on her plate for the next few minutes and would check her phone from time to time. I waited for her to give some explanation, but she didn’t seem that keen on it.
“So who was that?” I finally asked.
“Rufus,” she said.
“He’s a guy I dated a while back.” She still wouldn’t look at me.
I smiled and shrugged. “Probably hadn’t heard of him because he’s too underground.”
She didn’t smile. “Don’t be mean.”
“It's a joke. He can make jokes, but I can’t?”
“Forget it. Whatever.”
That sat awkwardly. I tried smiling a lot regardless; just in case Rufus looked over he could think we were having a great time. When the bill came and we drove off, things didn’t get better.
“Can we drop Rufus?” she said.
“Rufus sounds like Roofie.”
“Jesus Christ, shut the hell up—”
The night had ended on that note. That was the last thing she said to me. I dropped her off at her apartment and she slammed the door without a goodbye. As I watched her climb the steps, not so much as glancing back, I thought that would be the end of it. That would be the last time I ever saw her.
I sent her a text.
Ricky. Im sorry for pissing you off. Please tell me whats up? Im scared shitless that Im never gonna hear from you again. And that would suck because Im trying to think what my life would be like if I hadnt met you and I cant think of it. Please text me back when you get this. Lets figure this out.
And I waited all night for her to reply.
This is the sort of stuff that was going through my head while some kids reenacted scenes from Spielberg movies for a Cloverfield camera guy. Cormac started to throw some Thin Mints at the back of Rufus’s head about half way through. I would have stopped him if I hadn’t been busy with other things.
I didn’t hate Super-8. I didn’t like it either. Like I said, all of J.J.’s recent stuff is a love letter to Spielberg and the 80s. It was entertaining as a “things blow up and shit goes down” movie, but it still wasn’t anything substantial. It’ll hit the DVD rack and soon no one will remember it.
When the movie was over, Rufus came over with a few of the Thin Mints.
“You guys drop these?” He smiled.
I forgot he was nice too. Jesus on Ritz Crackers, give me a break.
“Yeah, thanks.” Cormac reached out and took them.
Rufus looked over at me and his face lit up.
“Hey, buddy. How’s it goin?”
“That’s cool. How are you and Ricky?”
“I heard you two broke up.”
“Then we’re not cool, I guess.”
“What’d you think of the movie? Cool, huh? You write movie reviews don’t you? What’s your consensus?”
The more I thought about Super-8, the more I realized I didn’t like it. Why did all these critics and magazine just lap this shit up? They call it a “homage,” but homage is just a French word for rip-off. It was all good on the surface, but it didn’t have anything else to offer. It didn’t challenge. It didn’t change. It just homage-ed. And apparently all you need to do nowadays is call your movie a homage a people will bend over and kiss its Oscar-winning ass.
“Well nice talking to you! Talk to you later!”
As he left Cormac threw another Thin Mint at him.
The night of Ricky and my first fight, I waited up till four in the morning with my phone in my hand, thinking I felt it vibrate from time to time. Not even a break up text. Not even that.
Then there was a knock at the door. I stumbled out of bed and answered it.
Ricky leaned in and kissed me. We stood in the doorway, making out for like ten minutes before she pulled away, smiling a little.
“I’m a fuckup,” she said. “And I fucked up.”
I shrugged. “I wasn’t worried.”
“I got your text.” She held up her phone.
I smiled. “Yeah?”
I put a red mark on my door in Expo marker so Cormac would know.
Final Consensus: 2/5