183 minutes of...
The year was 1990. At the time, I was just barely beginning to understand the concepts of mating, dating, and the time-honored ritual of Going To The Movies With A Boy. Little did I know that I was aimed, full speed ahead, for a dating misstep the likes of which are generally only shown in the worst of romantic comedies.
In 1990, I had not yet grown into what Dan later termed my Fräulein Pushyhosen personality. I was meek. I was shy. I was utterly and completely desperate for some boy, somewhere, to notice my existence, sure in my belief that all I needed was for one perfect boy to See Me As I Really Was™, and that my life would be both perfect and complete.I was certain that, behind the trees and the lampposts, were out-of-work bluebirds just waiting to sing.
This, of course, is the mad hallucination of a high-school-aged girl whose last boyfriend broke up with her for reasons unknown. Indeed, she suspected things might not be quite right but would have to wait two more years to learn that the reason he wasn't much into actually kissing her had less to do with the fact that she was a gawky adolescent and more to do with the fact that she had, well, ovaries.
We'll call him W.
That, of course, isn't his real first initial, but it will have to do.
At the time, I was unaware of the real reason for the breakup. After all, everyone has a first time to hear the phrase "Let's just be friends." It, like many other pickup/breakup lines, has a maximum use allowance of once per lifetime.
I was nice.
We really were friends. I think.
In retrospect, I'm not sure what W's intentions were. Perhaps there was resentment on his part that I didn't know about. Perhaps he wanted to find a way to make things right with me. Perhaps it was a bet. Perhaps it was a last-minute thing, worth much less thought and verbiage than what I'm giving it now.
I'd like to believe the latter.
The details of the phone call have slipped away into obscurity, but I do remember agreeing to meet W. and his friend at the movie theatre. I probably asked for details about him. W. probably told me. The night of our meeting has long since been forgotten, but given the parental rules at my house, it was either a Friday or a Saturday night.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen...the babe in the woods was going on her first blind date. (Don't mind the timpani - they're just getting warmed up.)
I met up with them in the lobby of the little theatre. I recognized W. instantaneously; after all, prior to our ill-fated dating experience, we had been friends since about first grade. The boy standing with him was very blond, naturally so. My first recollection of him is that he had very curly hair, but my memory may be deceiving me.
(It's hard to hear over those damn timpani.)
He was cordial. I believe we shook hands after we were introduced. I looked at him, chatted briefly, and then looked around the lobby, hoping beyond hope that I was wrong.
Not a single bluebird in sight.
I looked at my 'date' again. I realized that, within five minutes, I was already gravitating back towards conversation with W. The bluebirds were stomping out of the theatre in disgust and I began to understand with a dreadful, painful certainty that this was going to be one of those nights that I would find excruciatingly funny - once it was over.
This guy might have been nice. He might even have been interesting. However, the only possible way that any person might have conceived of the idea that we might have been right for each other would involve an amount of crack cocaine enough to keep most of my high school high until the end of the milennium.
You'll note that I haven't told you the name of the movie yet. I'll yell it over the timpani: Anyone remember Dances With Wolves?
For those of you who can't convert into Earth units, Dances With Wolves is approximately 18.6 hours' worth of movie. Twenty-two hours, once you add in the time for sitting in front of the blank screen and watching the endless previews that came before it.
183 minutes of Kevin Costner posturing about in a soldier's uniform. Yes: three hours and five minutes, and I knew before I even took my seat for the previews that I didn't have the remotest interest whatsoever in the person that I was supposedly 'with.'
You thought Dances With Wolves was long? I thought it was bloody interminable. It's all well and good to see a movie that you want to see with someone you actually want to see it with, but to spend over three hours in a narrow chair, amidst cackling teenagers, while nonverbally jousting for a shared armrest with a person that you'd be perfectly happy never to see again in your entire life....
Only once in my life have I been more grateful to leap out of a movie seat at the end of a movie, and that dubious honor goes to the night in 1994 that I saw the steaming romantic turd I Love Trouble because one of my friends swore it would be a good movie and threatened to be heartbroken if I didn't go to the movies with her that night.
When people ask me why I hate Kevin Costner on days that I'm feeling talkative, I tell them that I have three reasons. First, I hold him personally responsible for the unbelievable length of the one and only blind date of my life. Second, there's the minor issue of him utterly ruining a screen adaptation of one of my favorite David Brin books.
Third, there's that soul-searing night I spent in a hotel with several of my friends on the night before a journalism awards convention. They begged and pleaded for our chaperones to let us get a pay-per-view screening of The Bodyguard. They watched, loved, and cried over it; I fell asleep about fifteen minutes into the movie and even today couldn't tell you the basics of the storyline.
Most of the time, though, I just tell them that my one and only blind date was for the duration of Dances With Wolves, and that's usually all I need to say.
Oddly enough, W. and I didn't talk much after that misbegotten blind date, and I've since lost track of him. Perhaps it's for the best.