Perhaps I am guilty of projecting myself into movies too much, or maybe it was the“supermoon” causing inordinate mental tides that swept me up. Conceivably, I just needed more sleep. Nevertheless, last night, around the time I usually go to bed, I had invited myself to join three strangers to see a movie that, in my mind, reproduced the events that led me there and my subsequent experience in the theatre.
The movie we watched was “Limitless”, starring Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro.
The uncanny thing is that I had just turned $12 000 into $2.3 million yesterday afternoon too. Just kidding, the similarities aren’t that literal. Let’s back up a bit, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
At 6:00pm on Saturday I woke up from a nap, zapped leftovers for dinner and, feeling like I should get out and be around people instead of zoning out alone in my apartment, grabbed my longboard and set out for Starbucks. The cold, rushing air, the clackety-clack of my board on the sidewalk, and fresh tunes on my iPhone convinced me to bomb around the parking lot for a while. For 15 minutes, nostalgic scenes of memorable rides flashed in my mind, synchronizing with the music and my climbing heart rate. At that point my poor cardio and rising temperature insisted I get that decaf coffee frappe I originally set out for.
Feeling like the 22 year-old I used to be, I walked into Starbucks holding my board by the tail, rolling it behind me like carry-on luggage. I sat down with my drink, and moaned – The Missionary was back. A bespectacled, slightly balding post-grad student, the Missionary is working on a theology degree of some sort. I had seen him several times here, sitting in one of the comfy chairs, covering the table with an assortment of loose leaf pages, booklets, and notepads, yet never writing a a single word. No, instead he strikes up conversation with whomever is unlucky enough to be there, and unleashes the full content of his research, arguing each point as if defending his thesis, flashing notes and booklets like a salesman, all the while oblivious to every social cue that says “Please stop talking to me”. I’m not exaggerating, I’ve been trapped by him before. I remember how, with one earphone still in my ear, regular glances around the shop or at my iPhone, and absolutely no verbal affirmation or sustained eye contact, the Missionary rambled at me for 25 minutes straight. It was terrible. And now he had three more captives.
I had seen this situation too many times to stand idly by, but what could I do? I tried to concoct some scenario or situation that would interrupt or distract the Missionary long enough to free the hostages. Assessing the situation from my table across the room, the couple seemed semi-courteously interested in the topic, but the second girl’s expression clearly indicated her frustration and annoyance. She needed out. A plan began to take shape in my tired mind, interrupted by someone asking me if the other chair at my table was taken. I replied in the negative, he thanked me and moved the chair to another table. Back to the situation at hand, I realized my plan required another chair at my table. I considered leaving, but I couldn’t ignore the persecution in front of me. I noticed an empty wooden chair between the Missionary and the girl, and I had my ‘in’.
“Is this chair taken?” I asked, placing both hands on the backrest.
“No, go ahead.” the Missionary replied.
“Thanks,” I said. As I set to lift the chair, I turned to the girl. “Is that an iPhone you have there?”
“Yes…” she replied, looking a little confused.
“Could you give me a hand with mine? My iPhone seems to be having issues.” I motioned back to my table where my phone sat.
“Okay,” she said, already looking relieved, “sure.” She followed me to my table where I offered her the chair I had just carried over from their circle. “Thanks for getting me out of there!” she exclaimed as she sat down.
“No problem,” I replied and, though we both knew it, added, “Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with my phone.”
We tossed small talk around for 15 minutes until the other captives managed to break free in time to walk over to the theatre. As the three of them left, I smiled. First, because of the rescue plan I came up with, and, secondly, because I actually did it. I wondered if that girl, or anyone else, caught on to the fact that unless she joined me, I had no need for a second chair. I wondered how convincing my act was, though the situation clearly required action more than authenticity. I laughed. Given my own social hangups, my tendency to avoid attention, and aversion to unknown outcomes, I found my performance highly entertaining.
How did I manage such a high-risk rescue mission? I think I was blinded by confidence, bordering on cockiness, brought on by recalling the old days when I used to ride my board daily. As I sped around the parking lot, carving lines around cars and medians, I liked the attention I got. It felt good to be doing something I was better than most at. It felt even better to be cruising on a board I had made. By the time I wheeled over to Starbucks, it was like a different persona took over. My social awareness and intuition had gone through the roof. I knew exactly how I was coming across and I played up to it. I haven’t had that kind of a rush for some time.
Sitting there, avoiding eye-contact with the Missionary lest I be trapped, I finished my frappe and debated what to do with my evening. Go to bed? I was too buzzed to sleep now. Go home and watch a movie? That seemed kind of anticlimactic.
Wait, weren’t they going to see a movie?
I grabbed my board…