Like millions of Americans celebrating baby Jesus’ birthday, I spent December 25 at a movie theater. But how many people prepared for a film by watching their girlfriend’s brother puff pot in a windy New Hampshire parking lot?
“Want to get high?” asked the bro, his muttonchops as thick as his eyes were red. I reached for the smoking bowl and then recoiled, as if it were a hissing rattlesnake.
“I’m straight,” I said, using lingo as dated as Dazed and Confused.Truth is, if there were a time to elevate my consciousness, it’d be before catching James Cameron’s trippy sci-fi epic Avatar. Look at the pretty colors! And the cat-like humanoids’ perky blue breasts! But marijuana makes me insane in the membrane, bringing breath-shortening panic attacks and curious urges, such as devouring butter dipped in a bowl of M&Ms. One bite of that, and you’ll never dare toke again.
So what in Sam Heck was I doing in New Hampshire? Playing the role of dutiful boyfriend and accompanying my girlfriend to her parents’ home. It’s like visiting a foreign land where I’m forced to follow the natives’ curious traditions. Last year, I was tasked with glazing the pink Christmas ham. This year, I made bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches.The irony of the Jew cooking swine on Christmas morning was, sadly, lost.
After a day of cherry-topped cheesecake and cable TV, I felt as trapped as a calf in a pen. My muscles were atrophying. I needed fresh air. But the lazy lifestyle suited my girlfriend, who wanted to keep her posterior planted on a couch. “Go see a movie with my brother,” she said, motioning to her younger sibling and his gal pal, a tattooed toothpick with a ring bisecting her septum like a bull’s.
Not wanting to join my girlfriend in watching a marathon of Say Yes to the Dress,a reality show about procuring the perfect wedding gown, I opted for date night.To curry the couple’s favor, I purchased a pre-movie six-pack of Harpoon IPA at convenience store Cumberland Farms, affectionately called “Cumby’s.” (I’d call it “Cum Farms,” but there’s a thick band of restraint and modesty encircling New England.)
Now, I love sneaking beers into movie theaters. It makes drinking feel illicit and dangerous, instead of like the medicine I need to survive another day. In New York, my favorite cinema for smuggling suds is Brooklyn’s art house BAM. It wins on two counts: First, the slate of films skews independent. Secondly, and more crucially, the bathroom is located steps from the theater. Tonight, however, we headed to a cineplex as sprawling and spacious as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Inside, I watched cops mill, keeping close eyes on the chattering teenage flocks. I tried shoving beers in my pockets, but my tight jeans, combined with a second helping of crispy bacon, made my mission a failure. “Give them to me,” my girlfriend’s brother said, concealing three bottles beneath his black leather jacket. I managed one sandwiched between my belly and belt, like a kangaroo and its joey.
We waddled into the theater together, bought tickets and sat near an aisle. “In case I have to go,” I said, patting the hidden beer growing disconcertingly warm.The previews unfurled, demonstrating the latest in car crashes, explosions and visions of the apocalypse. Behind me, a quartet of girls wearing tie-dyes sat down.They started giggling. They stopped when a cop clodded toward them, handgun snug in its holster.
“Hide it! Hide it!” one teen said.The copper bypassed me and confronted the clutch of teens. “Where’s the Smirnoff Ice?” he asked, as sternly as if they’d robbed a bank.
“What are you talking about?” said one girl. Her tie-dye was as bright and billowy as a circus tent. “Don’t play coy with me.”The girls played coy. “Come with me.”The girls came with him. Before leaving the cop gave me the once over, as if to say, Did you corrupt these ladies with malted alcoholic beverages?
For a moment, I considered taking the fall. Getting arrested for contributing to minors’ delinquency would make a fine Christmas tale. But I couldn’t bear the thought of my permanent record besmirched by Smirnoff Ice. I shrugged. Those crazy kids! Then I reached deep into my pants and, as the lights darkened, drank in the film.