Single White Nerd: Stranger Danger and the Psychic Grannie
a blogumn by Michael Kass
Last week I went to a movie. Alone. I kind of felt like wallowing in the aloneness a bit, so I bought a massively large buttered popcorn and a huge drink. Nothing emphasizes alone-i-tude in a dark theater like the feeling of a big tub of warm, lard covered popcorn between your thighs.
I took a seat toward the back of the theater and started munching on my corny grease bombs and slorping from my fizzy mug of high fructose corn syrup. Looking to my left, I saw a pair of kids. Probably no older than 12 or 13. They were engrossed in some iPhone game and hadn’t even noticed me come in. They didn’t have any snacks. I thought they might want some.
“Hey,” I whispered. “Hey, kids.”
They looked over.
“Look, I bought too much popcorn. Because I felt like wallowing a bit, you know. But you don’t seem to have any popcorn. So I thought I would offer you some. It’s good, real buttery. Good for watching movies with.”
They looked at each other. One whispered something that sounded a bit like “stranger danger.”
“Or a sip of soda. But you’d have to get your own straw. Because this is my straw. And you might have the herp.”
Now they looked straight at me. “Perv,” one of them spat. Then they switched rows leaving me alone with my warm tub of crunchy snack-joy.
Perv? Me? For wanting to share my popcorn bounty and not get herpes? How DARE they! I almost let them have a piece of my mind–
And then I had a meta-moment of self-realization: I was a 30-something man alone in a theater offering treats to pre-pubescent boys. I guess, from a certain point of view, I mean. . .I guess that maybe someone without a window into my completely innocent motivations could, perhaps, see me as a pervert attempting to corrupt innocent youth. Like Pee Wee Herman without the successful children’s show or exposed penis.
This moment of realization dragged a memory up with it. A memory of my grandmother. When I was growing up, my grandmother and I would talk on the phone every week. The conversations would go something like this:
Her: Hi, Michael.
Me: How are you?
Her: Oh, you know. My hips don’t work so well and I haven’t been able to walk so well. But this is what happens.
Me: Sure is.
Her: Are you wearing your orange sweater when you go out at night?
(my grandmother sent me at least one hideous bright orange sweater every year, a talisman against evil of all kinds)
Me: Yes (a bald faced lie)
Her: Because traffic doesn’t care about sweet boys like you. You’ll get run over. Are you still going to movies alone?
Her: Watch out for men at movies. Especially if they offer you popcorn or candy. Or touch you in a way that you don’t think is right.
There it was: Watch out for men at movies. What if it hadn’t been a warning for child-me at all, but rather a dire prediction of my future. What if there had been words missing in her warning and she’d meant to say, “watch out for BECOMING men at movies WHEN YOU’RE IN YOUR 30s?!”
I’d never considered the idea that my grandmother might be psychic. But, then, she’d always had an odd sort of extra-sensory perception. For example—she always felt air conditioning blowing on her, regardless of whether or not the room she happened to be in had air conditioning. This always struck me as a particularly useless psychic talent, but clearly I had underestimated her.
I had written off my grandmother’s prophecies and now one of them had come true: I had become the Man in the Movie Theater. As the movie started, I meditatively sucked my straw—what else had I missed? Should I be on the lookout for cars trying to hit me at night? Or had she rather been trying to warn me about hitting people while driving at night? Either way, I resolved to be much more careful when walking and driving in the post-daylight hours. Maybe I should start taking taxis.
Thinking about my grandmother’s predictions and warnings took up so much energy that I got rather lost in the halls of memory and prognostication and missed most of the movie. As the credits rolled, I got up to leave. A hand reached out to grab my sleeve. I looked down to see a 50-something man with a mustache wearing a trench coat:
“Hey,” he said, “I noticed that you’re here alone. You wanna get a drink?”
“No,” I replied. Then for good measure I added “Perv” and left the theater muttering a small thank you to my grandmother for her wisdom.
See the Single White Nerd LIVE in the Main Room at the Comedy Store on October 2nd. Also on October 2nd, he’s on the Flockter Mill show. Check your local listings.