Wisdom From Across the Wood: The Couple

Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 by colemanjaro

It is a remarkably warm day for mid-October and the dynamic fall colours add a certain romantic feel to the evening.   Outside the sun is setting.  In the lounge, the soft golden light sifts through the cracks in the blinds and checkers the marble bar counter-top.

Two guests sit at the bar, rays of light warming their backs.  This well dressed, middle-aged couple are sitting side-by-side on one end of the bar.  The candle, set in front of them to melt butter for their crab dinners, burns steady.  The room is very quiet.

“You’ve ruined my life,” says the woman.

The man is silent, gazing into the small orange flame.  His face remains calm.

“You’ve ruined my fucking life,” repeats the woman, this time a little louder.  She picks up a piece of bread and slowly and methodically butters it, holding the steak knife daintily between her thumb and index finger.

The man turns his head slightly to watch the butter spread beneath the serrated blade.    He smiles a lazy smile at his wife and leans toward her.

“Ya, well your fathers got no balls,” he says, “no balls at all.”

She stops buttering and sets the knife down on the bar.  The barkeep strolls over and offers another round.  The couple smile.

“Yes please,” says the lady.
“I’ll have another one of those martinis.  It was absolutely delicious!”

“And I’ll have another pint please,” says the man, winking at the bartender.  The bartender nods and turns to make their drinks.
“And don’t mind us.  We’re just having a little discussion.”

The crab arrives, filling the room with the scent of rich, steamed seafood.

“Enjoy your dinners,” says the bartender.

The couple tuck into their $40 entrees in silence.  A couple minutes later, when most of the crab has been de-shelled and submerged in the small dish of hot butter, the woman puts down her cutlery and turns toward her partner.

“You know, it took 25 years of marriage for me to realize,” she says, “but you are a real classless asshole.”

Using the tiny crab fork, the man skewers a choice piece of meat from the dish and eats it.  He closes his eyes as he enjoys this succulent treat.

“Mmmm that’s good,” he says.
“Well at least I’ve got balls.  You’re fathers got no balls.”

The woman looks pensive as she stirs her rice pilaf.  She squeezes a lemon wedge over the dish, releasing the smell of citrus.  She stabs a piece of meat with her fork, scoops up some rice and, careful to not spill any of it, puts it in her mouth.
“Mmmm,” she exclaims between bites, “that is simply marvellous!”
“How can you talk about my father like that when he has done so much for you?”

“Your father is a coward,” he says matter-of-factly, picking up a piece of asparagus with his fingers and biting it off at its feathery tip.

“Well you…” she pauses, puts down her fork, picks up her purse, and stands to face the man.

“You are a classless asshole!  You’re a classless asshole and you’ve ruined my life!  Congratulations asshole!  You’ve ruined my life!”

The woman violently pushes in her bar stool and turns her back on the man.

“Thank you,” she calls to the bartender as she heads for the doors.
“You were great!  Everything was great!  Thank you.”

The bartender boxes up the lady’s crab while the man finishes his.

“Thanks for the good time,” says the man as he walks out alone several minutes later.
“We really appreciate it.”

When the doors close behind the man, the bartender sighs and says, out loud, but to no one in particular, “Alright, we’ll see you next week.”

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Don’t Hold Your Breath: An Interview With a Weed Dealer

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2010 by colemanjaro

The voice recorder sits next to a small electric box, no bigger than a DVD player, resting on the coffee table between the couch and the armchair.  Once the internal elements have reached the appropriate temperature, not too hot, but hot enough, he inserts the hose.

A faint electric hum fills the room as my generous host  prepares for the interview and packs his vaporizer.

“The vaporizer is still kind of a new technology,” he says.

“It is the healthiest and most affective way to intake marijuana.  It’s a cleaner high and it’s 95 per cent efficient.  It’s easier on your body.  I mean, weed is a pretty healthy and safe plant as it is, but a vaporizer just knocks off what’s not healthy, like plain combusted smoke.”

My host knows a great deal about smoking pot.

“Well this, this is marijuana,” he says, gesturing to the small mound of green plant matter on the table.  By now the fumes from the vaporizer are pouring from the mouthpiece, flooding the room with a distinct odour.

“It’s been around since humans have been around and it is a very very useful product,” he says.

My host sells marijuana.  He started around the age of 14.

“I dabbled a little bit before [I started selling],” he says.

“Then my buddies started selling and I thought ‘shit I can do that and I can maybe even do it better.’”

Over the last ten years, his entrepreneurial endeavour has been paying his school, his food, and his survival.  He stopped selling once, but got back in the game when he saw other people making money by doing something he knew he could do better.  Now he sells anywhere from 20 to 24 ounces of marijuana a week.  (each ounce goes for around $200).

But my host claims that the money is not his primary motivator.

As he sits in the armchair, rocking back and forth, he explains why he lives the outlaw life he does.

“I do it because it is a passion of mine,” he says.

“I’m not in it to be flashy or to become the best ‘blahbitty blah’ ever.   I‘m not doing it to get as rich as I can as fast as I can and fuck everyone over in the process– I do it because I love it.”

And as an individual who has very liberal views on drug use, my host never loses sleep over the illegality of his actions.  In fact, he doesn’t even consider himself a drug dealer and is quick to point out the hypocritical stance he thinks the Canadian government takes on the issue of marijuana trafficking.

“I’ll consider myself a drug dealer when people consider our governments that supply us with alcohol and cigarettes that kill us drug dealers,” he says.

The potent aroma floating in the air changes slightly, bringing to mind burnt popcorn.  My host pauses from his speech to stir the contents of the vaporizer, but quickly picks up where he left off.

“When you call your doctor, the people that prescribe you drugs, or the government drug dealers, then you can call me a drug dealer,” he says.

Though he knows there is great money to be made by selling harder drugs, my host has no desire to do so.  He explains that his customers, unlike users of harder drugs such as cocaine or crystal meth, are harmless ‘weed people,’ unlikely to commit a violent or malicious act.

“Ya, you could make a lot of money doing that, but you’ve got to deal with way harder people–most weed crimes are non-violent crimes,” he says.

“Most weed people are not hurting anyone– we’re filling up our prisons with these non-violent people.”

He presents what he sees as the worst case scenario:

“It’s not like you’re getting really stoned and being like, ‘oh shit!  Let’s go vandalize some shit or go rob someone or go violate people,’ he says.

“It’s more like, ‘oh shit!  Let’s go to 7-11 and eat a bunch of bad munchies that we probably shouldn’t be eating and then pass out on the couch’– is that so wrong?”

As he says this, his face opens into a broad smile and he brushes his hands across the front of his shirt, as if to clear his chest of an unwanted pile of chip crumbs.

My host’s customers range in age from 15 to 45, but he will not sell to just anyone.  For example, any high school student who calls him during his or her break will be denied service.

“I tell them that I wasn’t getting high and going to school and neither should you because you’re not going to school to get high,” he says.

This honest demeanour, and a consistent high-quality product, are what keeps his buyers coming back for more, he says.

“If you have a good product, you’re not sketchy, and you maintain a good business relationship, people will come back to you,” he says.

“People go to certain stores for certain brands because it’s consistent and it’s the quality they want.”

As the vaporizer hums away, the ‘quality’ becomes more and more apparent.  The interview grinds to a halt as the next question is momentarily lost in the ‘quality’  currently dissipating through the air.   A window opened and the air cleared, the interview continues.

My host’s expression hardens as he outlines some of the disadvantages of the job.

“It can be stressful,” he says.

“You can get robbed.  You can get arrested and you can meet some bad people.  But it has also taught me a lot of lessons.   I come from a small town and when I came here I thought everyone was a Care Bear–now I have a more realistic view of how people really are.”

He believes the risk of getting robbed is greater and more serious than the risk of being arrested, but that the risk of both would decrease dramatically, if marijuana were decriminalized.  My host is confident that there would still be a place for pot dealers in a society where marijuana were legal.

“Cigarettes are legal, but people still make money,” he says.

“What it comes down to is that not everyone can grow good weed.  People are lazy and it’s not as easy as people think.  You really have to love what you’re doing to make a good product.“

“I’d still do it,” he says.

“Would I probably have to work harder?  For sure, but it would take away a lot of the stress and bad parts like going to jail or getting robbed.”

When the vaporizer begins to spout the burnt popcorn smell again, my host reaches over and switches it off.  The humming stops as the last vaporous cloud is exhaled.

“I want to believe that we live in a world that will make this happen in my lifetime,” he says.

“But I’m not going to hold my breath.”

Serving it wrong

Posted in Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 by colemanjaro

I thought it was bad enough when my back started to sweat, making my white dress shirt cling to my flesh like a wetsuit, but when that lady asked for the entire bill, I knew that it wasn’t quite bad enough, not yet.

But at this pace, it soon would be bad enough.  Bad enough for me to tear off this sweaty shirt and insist that Mr. and Mrs. We-hate-everything-on-your-menu-and-each-other use it to wipe up their third refill of decaffeinated coffee.  Bad enough for me to just sit down in the middle of the restaurant with an armful of appetizers and start eating.  Bad enough for me to quit this fucking place—peace out in a blaze of swearing, sweating, baked-potato-hurling glory. 

But instead, I deliver the bill to that lady—that lady who complained about all three courses of her meal and sent two of them back—run the various appies to the various tables scattered around the spacious restaurant, wipe up the spilled coffee at the grouchy couple’s table, and run down to the hostesses to beg them to take me out of rotation.   

The girls greet me with a care-free smile, a smile reminiscent of a much less stressful and sweaty time.  There are four hostesses on tonight and two of them are poised at the front door, behind the stand, waiting to greet whoever wanders through those doors in search of an overpriced meal, with a welcoming smile.   

Sara is blonde with strikingly red lips and a sincere gaze that can make you forget all about your craving for steak and just be content to lean on the hostess stand crunching chocolate mints for dinner.  She looks like a young Marilyn Munroe.  AJ is dark featured and just as mesmerizing.  We love having these girls at the front doors—together they are like vanilla and chocolate Girl Guide cookies. 

Their easy smiles fade into concern as I tell them about the five nightmare tables I am currently serving. 

“You gotta take me out of rotation girls,” I plead.

“These guys have got me running laps and I just know that woman who’s paying for that 15 top is gonna stiff me.  I just can’t do it anymore.” 

They are sympathetic and agree to take me out of rotation for a bit.   

“Thanks girls,” I yell, glancing over my shoulder to see them pointing at me and giggling.  

“You’re sweating Coleman,” they call after me. 

I don’t answer.   

In the kitchen the expediter informs me that the dinners are running 15 minutes over.  My tables seem unimpressed when I tell them this, but I’m too busy to hang around and kiss ass.   

I print the bill for the 15 top, stack a handful of mints on the billfold, say a small prayer, and return to the private dining room to present the damage to that lady. 

She glares up at me with a look like sour milk on her face as I place the bill in front of her.

“You know, everything was pretty bad tonight,” she says. 

I apologize for the thirteenth time and gesture toward the bottom of the long paper bill. 

“You’ll notice we took care of a few things for you,” I say. 

In fact, the managers took almost half of the items off this bill, reducing the total by at least fifty per cent.  This tip will make or break my night and a fifty per cent discount never bodes well for the server. 

She dismisses me with a waving hand and bends over the bill with her reading glasses on.  Her top lip curls as she squints at the small print.   

I return to the hostess stand, pop a mint into my mouth, and sigh.   

I look at AJ and Sara.  They are standing there, leaning against the wall looking casual, comfortable, relaxed, and, all the while, beautiful.    

I tell them, “maybe I should be a hostess too.”

"like chocolate and vanilla Girl Guide cookies."

Reading Dostoevsky in the sun

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6, 2010 by colemanjaro

Stretched out over the course sand, Coleman has one arm behind his head and the other in front of it, holding open a tattered old book.  He is hairy and tanned– the Thai sun has long since burnt every bit of his long frame, save for his ass, which remains as white as a Canadian winter.  He wears a troubled look on his bearded face.  Is it apprehension?  Is it guilt?

Coleman is thinking about murder.  

This often happens to him when he gets into a good book.  He starts to take on the characteristics of  whomever he is reading about.  

“Raskolnikov,” he whispers to himself.  He likes speaking this name.  It gives him confidence.
 
He turns over his shoulder to smile his twisted guilty smile at his girlfriend who is on a beach chair several feet behind him.    

“Raskolnikov, baby,” he says to her.

“Don’t say that,” she replies.   “I don’t like it when you say that.  It creeps me out.”

Coleman frowns and twists back around to continue reading.

There is a faint tickling sensation on the side of one of his legs and Coleman looks down to see a small red ant navigating between his black hairs.  He picks it out carefully and brings it up to his face for a closer examination.  

“Hello there little ant,” he says, allowing the critter to crawl freely on his open palm.  

Then, as if experiencing a sudden revelation, he pinches the ant between his thumb and forefinger.  

“Raskolnikov little buddy, sorry.”  He grinds he small bit of flesh between his digits and flicks it into the hot sand.

“Coleman, what are you doing?  You’re so weird,” says his girlfriend, standing up and walking away from him toward the sea.  “I’m going for a swim.”   

Folding the old, red copy of Crime and Punishment, Coleman rolls over on his stomach and props himself on his elbows.  He watches his girlfriend wade out into the warm, green-blue water and wonders what it would be like to strike a skull with a hatchet.  Once, in grade school, Coleman had beat a watermelon open with a hammer during a skit in drama class.  He imagines it would be a similar sensation.

“I imagine it would be a similar sensation,” says Coleman, removing his elbows from beneath him and allowing his cheek to rest on the warm sand.  

“What did you say?” calls his girlfriend from the shallow water.  

“Nothing,” he replies, not bothering to lift his head.  “Raskolnikov baby, that’s all.”

“I’m seriously beginning to worry about you,” she says.  “Are you almost done that book?  I wish you would just put it down.  It’s making you act funny.”

“Almost done baby,” he says in a half laugh, his thick beard parting to reveal his white teeth.  
“But seriously, if we ever have a child we should name him Raskolnikov.”

Gaydar: shooting it straight

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 by colemanjaro

Gaydar.  The ol’ sexual orientation compass.  As reliable as the monthly welfare check.  Or is it? 

First of all, let’s answer the obvious question.  What is gaydar?  Most people wouldn’t need to ask this, but some, like my father, do.   

A search through my usual sources on these matters, urbandictionary and slangsite.com, provided some interesting definitions, like, “a Spidey Sense, but for gayness instead of danger.”

It’s just like GPS.  Only now instead of Global Positioning System, it stands for Gay Positioning System. 

And just who possesses this unique sexual sixth sense? 

Some people claim they can’t be fooled.  Blindfolded and ears plugged, they say they can sense the homosexuality from a block away, if the wind is blowing in the right direction. 

Others say they are completely homoblivious. 

“What?  Jason’s gay!?  Oh, I thought they were just wrestling.”

Personally, I like to think I have a pretty sharp gaydar.  Take these guys for example:

 

 

Verdict: gay.  Right?  I don’t think there’s any question here.  These two aren’t even real and you just know.  

Or this guy:

Definitely not gay.

But, it’s not always that obvious.  Straight people can easily set off the occasional blip on another’s automatic homo-homing device.  An awkward encounter with a very well groomed man in a V neck t-shirt at the grocery store had me studying myself in the mirror and wondering how I was mistaken for something I’m not. 

 Everyone has mistaken a little boy for a little girl.

“Oh Martha, you’re new baby girl is adorable! What’s her name?”

“His name is Brian.”

Or maybe once or twice on the phone.

“Ok miss, no problem, I’ll tell her you called.  What was your name miss?”

“It’s Brian.”

Poor little Brian’s voice never quite developed. 

But the V-neck t-shirt guy didn’t mistake me for a girl—the beard should eliminate any suspicions there—rather, he mistook me for a potential date.  I’m sure he was a nice guy, he was very courteous and flattering, but he was just way too…you know, male.  

The grocery store incident also got me pondering the strength and accuracy of the gay man’s fairy finder.  Was the V-neck t-shirt guy’s gay-mantracker just acting a little queer that day, or was I emitting some sort of gaydiation? 

One of my good friends, who happens to be of the same-sex persuasion, gladly offered his opinions on the topic. For convenience sake, we’ll call my friend Brian.

“Personally I don’t have gaydar at all,” says Brian. 

 However, when that perfect piece of man meat walks into view, Brian says he often finds himself hoping.  

“Reality gets mixed up with lust and desire for that ‘perfect man’, says Brian, “and then it just clouds what the reality is.”

“I wish a lot of guys are gay and then I nit-pick and convince myself that they might be gay. It’s quite psychological really.” 

So, Brian claims to be one of those who is always pointing his gaydar gun in the wrong direction, forever doomed to find himself barking away in awkward grocery store conversations with “the wrong trees.”  

As for me, I’ve cut my hair and retired the outfit I wore to the grocery store that fateful day, but I don’t expect it will never happen again.  I suppose I’ll just have to take it as a complement.

Wisdom From Across the Wood: Saturday Bar Open

Posted in Wisdom from across the wood on July 13, 2010 by colemanjaro

Serving It Right

Saturday Bar Open

By Coleman Molnar

I’m not a shrink, but for a small cash tip I’ll give you my advice.

Iron, stock, unlock, and cut limes.  I turn the lights down to hide the ketchup stain on my pant leg, pop open the doors, and wait for customers.  We call them guests.

4:15pm- 1 guest: shabby clothes, early 20s.

I know this guy.  He comes in on Fridays after his shift at the bottle depot.  His long blond hair is dirty and he smells like stale beer, but I like him.

“Hey bro, I’ll get a pint of Canadian please.”

I give him a coaster and fill his beer to the top.

He pays me, a handful of loonies and quarters, and makes the same joke as always.

“Seven bucks a pint!  Man, I don’t know why I drink here.  Cheers bro.”

Bill: $6.95                  Tip: $2                                    Advice:  Don’t lose that positive attitude. You’ll need it.

I change the music from Hit List to Flashback 70s and hum along with Paul Simon as I read the paper.

4:45pm- 2 guests: well dressed couple, middle aged.

They sit at a booth in the back and I can tell right away they’re going to be high maintenance.

“Excuse me, can you hang up my jacket?  Why is the music so loud?  Can you turn the tv to channel 404, my wife wants to watch figure skating.”

He tries to order a glass of wine for her and she snaps at him.  They bicker at each other as I stand at the table, looking at the ground, scrunching my toes in my shoes.

I spill a bit of their cocktails and don’t bother to wipe the sides.  No coasters for you two.  I hope you get pina-colada on your shirt sleeve.

They order appies and complain about the batter on the tempura.  I take it off their bill.

Bill: $35                                    Tip: 50 cents                                    Advice: Divorce, or at least an affair.

The cocktail waitress arrives and takes over the  table—thank fuck.   I sit on the cooler behind the bar.

5:30pm- 1 guest: bald with tattoos, 30ish.

He sits at the wood and greets me by name.  I should know his, but I forget.  We bartenders know him as “the perverted bald guy.”

He orders a lobster tail and a double Caesar (extra salt rim and no bean) and starts to chat me up.

“So I brought home this chick from the bar, but she was fucked up right, so I locked her out of my apartment…”

I pretend to be busy in the back until his food arrives and he shuts up.  He has a couple more rounds and then wants to buy me a shot of tequila.  It’s still a bit too early for that, so I politely decline.  He takes them both himself.

Bill: $95                                    Tip: $10                                    Advice: Seek professional counseling.

The dining room reservations start to arrive.  My printer chirps and I make cocktails and pour glasses of wine.   Jen, the second bartender, shows up and takes over in the well.  She is wearing all black, like me, but her hair is down around her shoulders and her shirt is cut low.

6:45pm- 2 guests: trendy couple, late 20s.

Lisa and Chris: a couple of regulars who always drink too much and over-tip.  They’re always welcome here.

They order a bottle of wine and some steaks.  I mix them a couple of shots on the house.

“Those were delicious.  Mix up another batch and this time, pour one for you two.”

We accept the offer: Butter Ripple Schnaps and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum (Butt Pirates).   Jen recites a couple crude stanzas about “honour,” about “getting honour” and “coming honour.”  It rhymes.  We laugh.

They look comfortable.  They’ll probably be here until close.

Bill: Open ($110)                   Tip: Open                  Advice: Stay hydrated; a glass of water for every four ounces of liquor.

7:00pm- 4 guests: two couples in suits and dresses, 70+.

Shown to the bar by one of the hostesses, these four sit around a corner and order a bottle of the house white.  No one should ever order the house wine, especially the white.  I serve it to them as if it were a bottle of Chateau FuckingexpernsiveBordeaux.

“We were supposed to have a reservation in the dining room, but I guess somebody messed up,” says a grey haired gentleman.

I tell them they actually have the best seats in the house.

They order salads and dinners and everything comes out perfectly.  By the end of the meal they are laughing and making jokes with Lisa and Brad.   They leave looking very pleased.

Bill: $175                  Tip: verbal- “Thanks so much.  Everything was perfect.  See you again soon.”

Advice: Get off that fat wallet (it’s bad for circulation) and put your money where your mouth is.

The other bartender and I make a couple jokes at the expense of the verbal tippers and Lisa and Brad buy us another round of shots: Crown Royal and Banana Liquor (King Kongs).

7:45pm- 6 guests: ladies in high skirts and low cut shirts that say “Bachelorette’s Bitches” across the chest in glittery gold letters, 30s.

These ladies push the menus out of the way and order martinis.

“Eating is cheating,” they say.  “We need to get drunk.  We’re going dancing tonight.  Woo wo!”

They all Woo woo in response to the initial Woo woo and then laugh hysterically.

I’m sure they’re already drunk, but it doesn’t matter— I do have my ‘over-serving it right’ certificate, after all.

After their second round their laughter becomes louder and higher pitched and they start to make sexually suggestive remarks across the bar.  They ask for my underwear.

“We need a pair of guys underwear signed by the guy,” says one of the ladies, leaning over the bar.

I tell them I’m not wearing any underwear and they giggle and swear loudly, drawing looks from most of the tables.

Bill: $115                  Tip: $35                                    Advice: Practice safe sex.

Guests start to leave.  The rush is nearly over.  Jen and I share a loaf of bread and restock the red wine.  Our manager comes down and tells me I can go in 45 minutes.

8:oopm-  4 guests: kitchen workers in T-shirts and jeans, 20s.

The boys grab four stools in a line and announce they’re going to drink one of every beer we carry.

“We’re doing ‘the taps’ tonight.  Shit is gonna get rowdy,” they say.

They down their first pints in a matter of minutes and I fill another four frosted glasses.  They order the beef dip, it’s the cheapest thing on the menu, and start to bullshit about the night.

“Man, can you believe that guy at table 341?  He ate a 24oz steak with a side of crab legs and four diet pepsis.  He is going to be sick.”

Bill: Open                  Tip: Open                  Advice: Boys, Jen has a boyfriend.

8:30pm- 1 guest: dirty jeans and a faded hoodie, 23.  Me.

I choose a stool next to the kitchen boys and order a wheat beer with an orange.  Jen sets a plate of calamari in front of me.

“I messed up,” she says, “eat this.”

They shout at the third period performance of some team in some hockey game as I eat the squid.  I order a double Caesar (easy Tabasco extra muddy) and finish the newspaper.  Somebody buys another round of shots: Irish Car Bombs (Whisky and Baileys dropped into Guinness).

If I drink this, I’ll be drunk.  I look down the bar.

The wood is starting to fill up.  One by one, the staff are getting off for the night and taking their places at the bar.  Jen is busy, still working hard, making tips for us both.  As the tables in the lounge start to filter out, the group of thirsty youngsters around the bar becomes louder.

I look down at the Car Bomb, some twisted Irish man’s idea of a shot.

“Eating is cheating,” I say, dropping the shot into the beer and raising it up.

Glasses are drained and eyes water as everyone around the wood, and Jen on the other side of it, finish their drinks and order another.

Brad and Lisa are saying something to me about espresso vodka and Jen is replacing my empty glass with a full pint.  I take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Bill: Open ($35)                                    Tip: Open                  Advice: Try not to spend your entire paycheck.

Crawling out of the doghouse: a boyfriend’s guide to surviving Sex and the City II

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 by colemanjaro

"This is the worst moment of my life"

By Coleman Molnar

Punishment: the practise of imposing something harmful or unpleasant on a person, usually in response to disobedience, defiance, or behaviour deemed morally wrong by principle.

Torture: the infliction of intense pain, physical or mental, to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.

********

So desperate was I, lonely and cramped, deep in the dungeons of the doghouse, that I made a deal with my punisher—a bargain for my freedom.  Much like Stanley Kubrick’s Alex, I agreed, in exchange for a reduced sentence, to sit in front of a screen and unblinkingly endure the most exhausting, uncomfortable, and trying two and a half hours of my life.

I would be forgiven my terrible sins on one condition:  I must take my girlfriend on a date to watch Sex and the City II.

I offer this, a recount of my experiences, as a guide to any boyfriend who may find himself sitting in a theatre, gritting his teeth, feeling out of place, threatened by the raw energy generated by a thousand excited girls.
Punishment or torture?  You be the judge.  But know this: I’ve learned my lesson—and these are just the previews.

********

WARNING: This movie may cause mood swings, cold sweats, depression, or loss of feeling in the head and neck.  As a safety precaution, our theatre provides each of its male patrons with a dull steak knife upon entering the theatre.  Much like the glasses given out before 3D movies, the steak knives are for your use during the feature presentation and are 100 per cent recyclable.  To operate, simply tear open the plastic covering and, with one swift hacking motion, open the veins in your wrists.  We hope you enjoy the film.

*******

I am towed into the theatre by my girlfriend.  Trying to keep my face mostly concealed behind her frame, I look up into the rows of chatting women.  I scan for a bearded face, a baseball cap, or some other sign of male life.  As far as I can tell, I am the only guy in the theatre.

I jump into the nearest aisle, dragging my girlfriend behind me and sink as low as I can in the seat.  The previews are rolling: coming soon are several movies I hope I never have to watch.
I let escape a faint whimper—a mistake, you must never show weakness.  My girlfriend turns to me with pursed lips and a furrowed brow.

“Oh, you’ll like it,” she says, “or else.”

I slouch even lower and retreat into my snacks—popcorn and M&Ms, my only friends in this strange place.

The theatre dims as the previews end and the opening jingle rings out in surround sound.  The screen sparkles like the diamond necklace that all girls who watch shows like Sex and the City dream about.  The audience squeaks with excitement and my girlfriend squirms a little in her seat.

I can smell the estrogen rising.  I can feel it, like a brick taped to my forehead, weighing down the front of my skull.  It’s like a hotbox of female hormones in here and it’s making me dizzy.  I cram some chocolate into my mouth and take a big swig of iced tea to try to clear my head.  I should have brought my flask.

*********

As for the movie itself, it is easily summarized.

SPOILER ALERT!
Beware!  The next line reveals the plot, scene, conflict, and complex character development featured in this movie.

“Lawrence of my labia.”

That’s it.  Get it?  It’s like Lawrence of Arabia, but with horny middle-aged women.

*********

A golden dessert sand dune on a sunny day.  Four ladies gracefully stroll over the soft, swirling landscape in slow motion.  Their brightly coloured outfits which billow in the wind are the very definition of dessert fashion.  I am reminded of the Spice Girls.

I turn to my girlfriend and whisper:

“This is the worst moment of my life.”

She can’t help but laugh and at that moment I know I am officially out of the doghouse.

********

I did end up seeing one other guy in the theatre—he left for a few minutes about half way through and then tripped up the stairs in front of everyone on his way back, drawing the audience’s attention.  I made eye contact with this poor fellow, this brother of mine, as he picked himself up off the stairs.  It was only momentary, nothing more than a glance, as quick and as manly as a one-word text message, but the exchange gave me the confidence I needed to get through.

Do I regret my bargain?  It’s tough to say.  The images that tormented me then are still fresh in my mind, the overpowering smell of woman still lingering at the back of my throat.  I’m not sure the experience will ever leave me.

But I did learn, so, I guess it served its purpose.

And at least tonight, I’ll get to sleep indoors.