Thursday, April 21, 2005

Buttered Popcorn

I devoured the #7 Chicken Nugget Extra Value Meal at McDonalds before heading to dialysis this evening.

That's probably why I fell asleep, and awoke in the middle of my own movie.

It was completely dark when I opened my eyes and the floor was sticky. I could hear high up above this clicking sound and then a bright, focused light sprinkled the wall behind me with it's startling illumination.

I darted my head around to see the outline of a classic movie theater. All the chairs were pristine and reminded me of movie houses of old.

But I was still on the floor.

I would have arisen, but an old newsreel began to play, with the announcer speaking like those of the 30's and 40's.

"News flash, Santa Rosa, California. Young Stacy, sans an 'e', is given the ability to live in his own movie. Will he choose the comedy of Laurel and Hardy, the drama of Michael Corleone or the romanticism of Audrey Hepburn?? We can only wait and see."

Then the movie projector halted it's screening. The house lights came up and standing at the top of the aisle was a tabby cat. He meowed once, then once again and then left through one of the theater doors.

I had nothing pending on my immediate schedule, so I arose and followed.

The exit door creaked with a high pitched moan as I made my way to the lobby. It was extravagant, a movie lover's dream. High ceilings with art deco from movies of the past. No blasphemous arcade or annoying movie cutouts littered this area, it was incredible. In the front was a small door, leading to the ticket booth centered between two sets of outer frosted doors.

The tabby was heading toward the ticket booth and the door slipped open to allow him entrance. The mumbling continued, and it was coming from the little booth.

I made my way in that direction and peeked inside.

"Oh, come on, you can come in. It's ok."

Inside, sitting on a small stool, was Vito Corleone.

He was dressed in a tuxedo and his hair was slicked back. Considering his lifestyle, he looked fantastic.

That's right. Just like in "The Godfather."

The cat jumped on his lap as he continued to invite me in.

"So you watch, oh, a lot of movies, don't you?"

"Yes sir," is all I could manage.

"Enough with the 'sir'. Call me Mr. Corleone or Don, I'm a working man."

"Ok Don Coreleone, why am I here?" It was the question that had been baffling me since I arrived.

"You use movies to escape your present existence, isn't that right?"

"I don't think I watch that many movies. Not really."

"Ok, let me test you. What year was 'Sixteen Candles' released?"

"1984." It blurted out like a reflex.

"Why did Winona Ryder drop out of Godfather III?"

"She had the flu and had to fly back to the states with her then fiance Johnny Depp." The question I wanted to ask in return is why didn't he SAVE "Godfather III?

"Who came in to polish up the scripts for Empire and Jedi?"

"Lawrence Kasdan. He also wrote 'Grand Canyon' and 'Raiders'."

All the answers snapped back in his direction just as quickly as he asked them.

Maybe he had a point.

"So you use movies to escape the painful existence you've carved out for yourself, don't you?"

"I guess," was all I could muster.

Vito reached over and pressed one of the many colorful buttons on the operating board in front of him. He let out a small chuckle as numerous engines could be heard skidding to a stop in front of the theater.

"I do you this favor because you need a refresher on how to truly live. Do you think you're ready?"

I wanted to say no, but who says no to the Godfather? Only those who want to sleep with the fishes.

"Ok," is all I could finally mumble.

"Then follow me." Vito lifted from his stool and allowed his pet cat to disappear into the lobby. I followed him as he opened one of the frosted doors and waved for me to exit.

I wasn't completely ready for what was outside.

As I stepped toward the curb I noticed some familiar vehicles filling the red zone. Marty McFly was waving from the DeLorean time machine. I meekly waved back. I didn't want to be rude.

"We have to get back to 1955!"

"What?"

"The Doc's waiting. 1955."

"Um, what about 1955?"

He seemed really convinced that 1995 is where we should both be at this very instant.

"You know, Chuck Berry, racism, Elvis' hips, the Cold War...1955!"

Luke Skywalker was parked right behind him in his speeder from 'Star Wars'. He seemed to be whining heavily about something.

"Fucking Lucas wants to add Jar Jar to Episode IV, what is he, a fucking lunatic."

I agreed with his comment, but didn't feel the need to join in. He seemed to be doing alright on his own.

And parked just ahead of the DeLorean was Herbie the Love Bug. He opened and closed his door a number of times and I could see his front headlight winking.

I couldn't tell if he was flirting or giving me one of those cool 'hey, good to see you' winks. Either way, I was kinda creeped out.

As I was attempting to recuperate from the VW flirting, an Alfa Romeo drove right up on the curve, blocking my view of all the other vehicles. The door flew open and inside was James Bond.

"Ready to get shaken, not stirred."

I cringed at how cliche that line was. I was also unsettled by the fact that it was the Roger Moore Bond, not Sean Connery.

"Thanks, but I'm fine."

He toasted me with his martini, took a sip and then thankfully flew off.

I turned back to ask Don Corleone a question, but he was gone. I thanked everyone for their hospitality, but I felt safer just taking a walk at this point.

Before I headed off I looked to my left. The entire street looked like a studio backlot, the entire street lined with non-descript brownstones. Off in the distance I could see a snow capped mountain with a circle of stars over it and the cursive lettering of the Paramount logo high above. The sky was bright with a beautiful blue sky and puffy white clouds. But instead of a sun, the Warner Brothers logo shined brightly in its place.

As I pushed my gaze to the right, it seemed to be nighttime. The sky was darkened and a sliver moon was all that could be seen peeking through the clouds. Sitting at the edge of the crescent was a young boy fishing into a lake that couldn't be seen, the letters of Dreamworks occasionaly making their way out of the clouds.

Hoping to maybe find Winona Ryder's character from "Girl, Interrupted" or Audrey Hepburn's from "Breakfast with Tiffany's", I decided the rest of the universe was worth a visit.

As I made my way past the first brownstone I noticed a phone booth. Standing next to it were three non-descript people speaking the same phrase over and over, with very little enthusiasm.

"It's a bird."

"It's a plane."

"It's..."

I interrupted the third individual because I knew where this was going.

"Excuse me. Would you happen to know..."

He interrupted me in return.

"Don't bother us."

"But who are you?"

"We're extras. I'll never get my SAG card if you keep interrupting."

I backed off and they returned to their mantra.

"It's a bird."

"It's a plane."

"It's..." They all said the next line together, but with little or no emotion.

"...Superman."

Out of the phone booth came Chrisopher Reeve's Superman. It was good to see him back on his feet again.

He quickly looked around and then flew off toward the WB logo. I wondered if there were any trouble in the vicinity of the other logos if he would actually help.

Just then a beautiful convertible pulled up. Rain Man was in the passenger seat and Charlie Babbett was behind the wheel.

"We need a K-Mart. Definately, definately we need a K-Mart."

Charley then turned his head toward me and smiled that Tom Cruise smile. I was blinded.

"Listen man, my brother needs a K-Mart now or he's gonna go, I don't know, nutzo, so can you tell me where the nearest K-Mart is?"

I covered my eyes but it was as though the reflection from his teeth was eating through my fingers.

"Listen, uh, you're killing me here. I just arrived. I don't even know if there is a K-Mart in this world."

Charley was not happy.

"Lot of frickin' help you were." He sped off, leaving a pack of playing cards flying in his dust.

As I contined to walk, fatigue began to take over. I muttered to myself how nice it would be if I could catch a quick nap.

Out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason, the Bates Motel appeared. Just above it was the ominous Bates home. Norman Bates exited from the office and waved.

I waved back, but with a little less enthusiasm than Mr. Bates.

"Could you do me a favor?" he asked.

"Uh, sure."

"Tell them, no more remakes. Mother hates remakes."

"Ok, sure."

"Thank you," he politely responded as he entered one of the vacant rooms.

"Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!"

I knew how this scene ended, since I'd experienced the film over a dozen times. As I passed by I swore I could see Hitchcock's shadow on one of the doors, but then again, I could have imagined it since I was pretty tired.

A loud motorcycle roared up behind me and The Terminator turned his head slowly in my direction. I tried not to laugh. I find most of Arnold's film performances hilarious, especially when he's attempting to emote.

"It's not a tumor."

"Excuse me."

"My gubernatorial effort. It's not a tumor."

I really didn't have time for this, but I wasn't sure if he was the Terminator from the first or second film. If he was from the third, I was really screwed.

He looked slowly in both directions and suddenly a baby exploded from his belly. It was the thirteen old version of John Connor. He smiled and jumped on the back of the hog.

"I want McDonalds, let's go."

The Governator looked slowly from side to side again and I knew exactly what he was going to say, you know what he's about to say, so let's just get it over with.

"I'll be back."

Sigh.

Even though this was supposed to be a movie world, I was still feeling fatigued from a lack of dialysis. I dropped inside one of the buidings that appeared as though it could be a clinic. A leather jacketed fellow brought me into this dilapitated rooms with wire and plumbing visible in the walls. It seemed familiar, but I just couldn't place it.

They sat me down in what appeared to be a dialysis chair, but instead of placing needles in my arm, they were about to shove this ice pick looking device in the back of my head. I was about to stop them, when a bus stopped right in front of the clinic door.

Keanu Reeves' Jack Traven flew into the room and yelled, "55, don't let him drop below 55!" Sandra Bullock's Annie smiled and waved from the open bus door outside as the DeLorean drove up.

"55! Did someone say 1955!"

In unison, we all replied, "No!"

Marty McFly seemed disappointed by this.

"Alright, you're the Doc, doc," and then he sped away.

I was trying to get out of my chair, but then the ice pick looking device was in Sharon Stone's hand. She was about to complete the thrusting device into the back of my head when a lasso whipped it from her grasp.

Indiana Jones had just saved my life. But then, it suddenly wasn't Indiana Jones. It was my dialyis tech.

I had presumably dreamed the whole affair.

This was pretty disappointing, because I never did get to kiss Winona Ryder, or Audrey Hepburn, or even Claire Danes.

I finished dialysis, grabbed my duffel bag and headed out to my truck. I stopped a few feet from the cab when I saw a cat on the hood of my truck taking a bath.

It was the exact same cat as Vito Corleone's.

I drove home that night with visions of my dream replaying over and over in my mind. And when I finally drove up to my apartment, a great quote from one of my favorite films came to mind:

"That's part of your problem: you haven't seen enough movies. All of life's riddles are answered in the movies."

--- Steve Martin in "Grand Canyon".

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