Once upon a time... -- no.
It was a dark and stormy night... -- no. It wasn't stormy, and nights in the City of Angels are never dark, even when you're standing in line for a "midnight" showing of The Breakfast Club, which is where we find our hero for the evening.
He thinks in quotes, because the face on his watch is smiling 12:30. They haven't seated anyone yet, and the hipsters lined up around him in the alley off Santa Monica Boulevard are getting antsy. As antsy as you can be when you're smoking long, unfiltered menthols and trying to sustain a buzz so you can enjoy your weekly hot beef injection of 80s kitsch.
Our hero smiles to himself, but then reconsiders. His friends were supposed to meet him yesterday at 11:15, but they haven't called and here is waiting. Instead of smiling, he folds his arms across his chest and tries to look both angry and condescending.
The three girls in front of him are pretty cute, and the one on crutches is wearing a Thundercats t-shirt. That was a good show.
"I hurt myself all the time," Cheetara tells her friends. "When I was like, 5 or something, I had the hugest crush ever on this boy at school, Billy something, I think. I was like, playing with him or something -- not like that! -- and I totally fell out of his tree house. I was so embarrassed. It was humiliating." The other kittens laugh and Cheetara flicks her butt over her shoulder. Our hero catches her eye for a second when she glances back to see where it lands. Did she smile? I think so.
He turns away before she does and finds the sparkling cigarette lying in a dry pool of motor oil. He almost smiles again, imagining the oil bursting into flame, but the sparks die and he shrugs.
Behind him is a couple, a man and woman. He's pretty fat, and looks Jewish; she's a short Asian girl, very plain. Her nylon-girded arm is threaded through his camo jacket, but they aren't talking or even looking at each other. Just staring straight ahead. The toe of her Converse is sitting on top of his boot in a strangely intimate manner.
One of the hipsters farther up the alley jumps out of line. He's wearing blue jeans and a red flannel vest, and he starts yelling, pointing at everyone. "Don't you ever talk about my friends! You don't know any of my friends. You don't look at any of my friends. And you certainly wouldn't condescend to speak to any of my friends. So you just stick to the things you know: shopping, nail polish, your father's BMW, and your poor, rich drunk mother in the Caribbean." There's a few claps, a little applause, and the Bender-wannabe slips back into line, secure in the knowledge that his friends think he's solid.
The line starts moving, and our hero sighs out loud. He hopes that everyone around him knows that he didn't come here alone on purpose; it should be obvious that he's waiting for someone. But then, maybe it's cooler to come alone than to be stood up. Whatever, who cares what these wastoids think. On the way in he grabs a movie schedule. Resevoir Dogs next week. That'll sell out.
Our hero bravely elbows past the concession stand and takes a seat midway down on the right. His friends might still show up; he may as well save them seats. Otherwise they'll figure out he's angry, and then he'll have to deal with it. Screw that, he's not going to put up with all the false apologies; it's easier to just pretend he doesn't care. So he saves a couple of seats.
The Thunderkittens sit down behind him, laughing about something. Our hero turns his ears around to listen while he stares off into space.
"Oh my God, he's totally looking for us, look!" one of them says.
"Wow, the contents of my bag are suddenly super-interesting," says another, and they all giggle.
"He's going down the other aisle, don't look," the first voice commands, but our hero does anyway. A grandpa dressed all in black, mid-forties, shaved head, some sort of hip goatee. He strides up and down the left aisle, looking over the crowd, and then turns back up to the rear of the theater.
"Hey," Cheetara says, tapping our hero on the shoulder, "if he comes down here, tell him these seats are taken or something." He turns back and smiles.
"You don't want to sit next to him," one of the girls says seriously. "He'll totally talk through the whole movie." Then she laughs.
"Yeah," number three injects. "And he totally stutters too, he won't even get like one sentence out, but he'll be talking the whole time." They all laugh.
"That's my dad, he's probably looking for me."
"Oh. My. God." Cheetara says, and they all burst into laughter. "I'm so sorry!"
"I'm kidding," our hero says, and turns back forward. That was pretty smooth, they're busting up behind him.
He sees his two friends walking down the far aisle towards the front of the theater, carrying popcorn, cokes, candy, each talking on their cell phone and staring at the ground.
"Look," Cheetara says behind him. "They're a cute couple."
One of her friends laughs. "Is he straight?" Giggles.
Our hero waves his arm in the air. "Over here!" he calls. The girls laugh even harder.
"Yeah right!" Cheetara exclaims, but they all shut up when our hero's friends look up and walk over, scooting into the seats beside him.
"Are you mad?" his friend asks, hanging up his phone. "No reception in here."
"Whatever," our hero replies with a shrug, and he turns to look at Cheetara with a grin.
At that, the Thunderkittens burst into prayer. "Oh my God."
"What's going on?" the friend asks, but no one answers.
Another flannel-clad pseudo-Bender runs down the aisle with a paper bag and jumps on stage. "We're really glad you're all here, considering they released this shit on DVD last week. We schedule way in advance, and the DVDs usually screw with attendance. Any of you buy it yet? No? Don't bother. There's no specials, no interviews, no extra scenes. Bullshit. Anyway, everyone knows movie soundtracks these days are a joke, but tonight we're drawing for the soundtrack from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It totally kicks ass, I know, calm down, seriously. Ok, here we go, who has 014503?"
Our hero is 014505, and he winces when he sees the fat girl who was in line in front of him bobble to the front, apathetic.
The movie ends the way it always does. The jock leaves with the basket-case, the princess leaves with the criminal, and the nerd leaves with the smug sense of self-satisfaction that comes from writing something you think is profound.
Our hero grabs Cheetara's glance. "See you next week maybe," he says. "Resevoir Dogs."
He turns and joins his friends, walking up the aisle. The girl takes his arm and pulls herself close. "Are you mad?"
"I said 'whatever'," he replies.
"Do you forgive me?"
"I don't care."