Living Retired — ‘Date Night’
Living Retired — ‘Date Night’
By Gary Chalk
During Covid-19 Jan I have not gone out to see a movie in what seems forever. I’m thinking our last movie was — my memory is spotty — ‘1001 Dalmatian’s.’ Like I say it’s been a dogs age since we’ve gone to the movies.
A couple of weeks ago Jan insisted that we see Top Gun at a theatre. If she had her way she would go out to watch movies every chance she gets. Jan enjoys the big screen, the rich Dolby surround sound, but most of all, preferably me not sitting in the seat beside her.
“Gary I always feel like I am dragging you along when we go to a movie.”
“Dear, there is something disturbing about buying a bag of popcorn that comes in at the price of a barrel of OPEC crude oil. You even have to pay extra for them to smother some melted oil called butter overtop.”
Jan doesn’t like it when I sit back in those big seats and fall asleep — during the previews! “Wake up Gary! You’re dozing off and the main feature hasn’t even started!”
“But Jan we’ve been watching a gazillion previews, played along doing the on-screen movie trivia, and been told to turn off our iPhone. If Top Gun doesn’t start soon this maverick is going to have to go to the bathroom.”
I remember the very first movie Jan and I went to. We were in high school. I was nervous going on a date with Jan — especially a movie — because my friends said, ‘She’s out of my league.’
The night of our first date arrived. I slicked Score Hair Cream through my hair and doused myself with woodsy-scented English Leather Cologne because the television commercials featured a sexy woman who whispered, “My men wear English Leather, or they wear nothing at all.” I borrowed my Dads Ford Fairlane 500 and drove to Jan’s parents house. Standing inside the front door I wreaked of leather, musk, and cedar birch! It was like I’d been fighting a forest fire and forgot to shower. Jan’s father shook my hand; her mother stared at me and kept sniffing.
The theatre concession stands back in those days were in one word: affordable. And the selection was not like it is today which is somewhere between a shopping mall food court and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Sitting together in our seats on that first date I waited patiently for just the right opportunity. It was nerve-wracking. It took FOREVER, but eventually after stretching my left arm way up into the air three or four times — and the guy seated behind me saying, “Look if you’re going to put your arm around her just do it!” — my arm finally very awkwardly found its way around Jan’s shoulder. I held my breath. Jan smiled at me and leaned into my shoulder. Whew mission accomplished: my arm was in the coveted ‘First Date Arm Position’ that every teenage guy dreamt. That was the good news.
The bad news was I couldn’t muster the courage to move my arm from its ‘First Date Arm Position’ for the duration of the movie. What ensued was sheer movie madness….
With my left arm clumsily clutching Jan’s shoulder, using only my right arm I bumbled my way eating popcorn and sipping my drink. Somehow I even managed to finagle my right hand over deep down into my left pants pocket to check I hadn’t lost my dads car key.
My left arm remained cemented to Jan’s shoulder for the rest of the movie! The pain was excruciating. The very thought of not moving my arm off Jan’s shoulder made me want to move it even more! It got worse and by halfway through the movie I couldn’t take it anymore. I was biting my tongue, tears in my eyes. Jan whispered, “Gary, you are such a sweet sensitive person crying through the movie. But the sad part hasn’t happened yet.”
By the end of the movie my arm had fallen asleep. I had the worlds worst case of numb arm ever recorded in the New England Journal of Medicine! That was just the start…
As we walked out of the theatre Jan reached to hold my limp hand — but I couldn’t feel a damn thing! I’m sure she thought she was holding a half-filled baggie of lukewarm water! OMG! All I could think was what if I can’t hold the steering wheel. It was our first date — I couldn’t ask Jan to drive me home in my Dads car!
These days going to the movies is not the same. Jan and I qualify for seniors-priced tickets and she sneaks a bottle of water in her purse. However, the other day I bought a package of chewing gum that I enjoyed as a kid, so I brought it with me when we went to see Top Gun.
No sooner than we were seated in the theatre, Jan began sniffing just like her mother did all those years ago on our first date. “Gary, what smells like soap in here? Did you forget to add a dryer sheet when you did the laundry?”
“Jan, I am chewing Thrills Gum. You know the purple gum with its distinctive soap taste we used to get as kids?”
I didn’t bother putting my arm around Jan. I already knew how the evening was going to end.