You know how when you’re dating someone and they really, really like something and it irrevocably ruins it for you after you break up? Or, you meet someone that you have some sort of horrific experience with and something they like sticks out in your head and consequently you always associate them with that thing they like?
That’s what I’m talking about here. For one of my friends, it’s music; for another of one of my friends, it’s places she and her ex went.
Can you guess what it is for me? I promise, it’s really easy.
To be fair, none of these guys are bad guys; most of the time, we should’ve just never hopped on that train to Relationship City, nor should I ever have assented to have dinner with some of them in the first place. What can you do? But in the shallow crevasses of my mind, I get these things stuck in there as being connected to these fine gentlemen forever and ever and ever. But you do, at least, get random, off-putting stories about why I can’t stand these movies anymore.
So, behind the cut, five movies I can’t watch ever again, and the stories behind them. Because that is how I can, and do, roll, my friends…
Boyfriend number 1, who we’ll call, uh, Jim (that’s a nice, ubiquitous name, no?) was and is a good guy. I think he’s happily married with a kid now, so well played, Jim.
Jim and I had dinner with my parents this fateful night and I had spent three hours previous to dinner calming him down. “No, you look fine. Honestly, you look fine. No, you don’t need to change your shoes. I’m sure my dad will like you. If he doesn’t, well, we’ll deal with that. No, my father will not rip your spine out and shove it down your throat – yes, flowers are fine for my mother. No. You don’t need to bring a present for my dad. No, my dad won’t care that you brought my mom flowers but didn’t bring him anything. Jim, breathe.” Meeting parents for the first time is always awkward and scary, but this was like a whole other level of Freaking Out.
By dinner time, I was already exhausted and face-planting into my mashed potatoes, but Jim was keyed up with the adrenaline from, I theorize, surviving the very first meeting with my parents, so he begged me to go to a movie. Tired but wanting to be The Good Girlfriend, I agreed, and so he then decided we should see Big Fish. No big deal. I like Tim Burton, right?
The car ride to the movie theater made the pleasant mood disintegrate. I don’t even remember what we were sniping at each other about, just that we were sniping at each other. And when I say “sniping”, I mean, if verbal insults could’ve resulted in a kill shot to the head, we both would’ve looked like a scene out of Doom (the video game, not the movie).
Arriving at the theater, we realized we misjudged the start times and we were there early. Jim had insisted that we go to the theater you do not want to just be aimlessly milling about at when your movie has yet to start, which then lead to him going, “Maybe we should go inside. No, outside. No, inside. No…outside.” I’m sure my snarky comments did not help matters.
By the time we actually sat down, I think I felt the most miserable I had in a long time. At least there was the lure of Tim Burton, right?
Except a love story was not really what I wanted to be watching when my boyfriend and I were at each other’s throats, and while Jim stared at the screen in earnest appreciation, I sunk down lower in my seat, praying for the end. Even watching Ewan McGregor roll around in daffodils, a sight that would normally make my vulgar, cheap heart sing (enter John from P.S. I Love You: “YOU ACT LIKE A MAN!”) made me want to carve out my eyes.
Leaving the theater, Jim was practically giddy. “Wasn’t that great? I don’t like romantic movies, but I like that one.”
Me: “It was pretty good, I guess.”
Here I got a long talk that felt vaguely reminiscent of calling my femininity into question given the fact that I loathe romances and romantic movies and bitching about not wanting to do anything for Valentine’s Day (another story for another time), and I just remember getting into the car and looking at him and having that total lightbulb-turning-on-over-your-head moment.
It’s like Margaret Cho says: It’s a moment of when the relationship’s over and only you know.
Which then made me seethe inside, because I had gone through the entire night for…nothing.
To this day, when I see Big Fish, when I see posters for it or hear about it or see a screenshot of it, the muscles on the right side of my face begin to twitch. I had a twitch-attack just looking up that poster. I once tried to sit through twenty minutes of it, to see if no involvement on Jim’s part improved my recollection of the movie, but it didn’t work – I ran screaming. And it’s not a bad movie; that’s the thing, it’s just the entire sum of experiences leading up to seeing it wholly ruined my filmgoing experience. And it wasn’t just Jim, I’m sure I didn’t help matters any – but my initial misery is saved in that movie, and I shall never, ever see it again.
True story: I once went on a blind date with a guy who was nice and if memory serves me correctly, knew who the Manic Street Preachers were and liked The Smiths, but ate meat and was a big Damned fan, which was sufficient at the time to convince me we could at least survive dinner. You try explaining your copy of The Holy Bible to someone who’s never heard of The Manics. (If I just killed you inside, I’m sorry. In my defense…I was fifteen. Well, not at the time of this date, but…nevermind, I have no defense. I’m already batting down the hatches for the Molotov cocktails that are coming my way from Kevin some of you.)
My friends know the story of this guy well, but I’ll sum up by saying that he’s an infinitely nice guy. I’ve spoken to him precisely once since that date, and that was a long time ago, and while he was infinitely nice, he was the biggest Prince fan I’ve ever met. Nice guy, but…we won’t go into the details of how much he loved Prince.
And I don’t think saying “He loved Prince” is an understatement, either.
I’m scared of Purple Rain now.
Does it surprise anyone that I briefly dated a film student?
Well, maybe. I’m sure some of you are like, “This freak has dated people?!”
I’m sure all my exes feel the same way.
He was a friend where the friendship took a weird detour into the “Oh, no, what are we doing?” area and then we deftly maneuvered it right back onto the “We Are Very Firmly Friends” track.
John (I like the “J” names, sue me, and that’s so not his real name) was a bigger film freak than I am. I mean, I didn’t know that was possible, but there’s at least one out there. Except John likes the very arty films. Films from Europe, films with no budgets, etc. Me, I like those films, too – I recall John being shocked that I had see The 400 Blows, a fact which still eats at me. I can like Van Damme and Francois Truffaut, dammit. Me, I’m much more of the variety of the idea of watching a double header of Return of the Living Dead and Candyman, just for fun, and I don’t think that was ever up John’s alley.
John asked me to watch Red with him – it was a film class assignment – and after we got over the thirty minutes of shock, that yes, I had seen White before and I knew what the Three Colors trilogy was, it was like Film Class: Now With 100% More Fat. I could probably tell you what every lighting trick and moving shot in that film means, and I don’t want to know that. Part of the reason why I purposely avoid talking about stuff like that on 1,416 and Counting is because those things are not big parts, necessarily, of why I love movies, and there’s a lot to be said for just shutting up and watching it. By the end, I was like, “I have to get out of this room, have to get out of this room, have to get out of this room” and we took a walk, wherein I managed to really piss John off and thus we became Firmly Friends again. (As I recall, the topic of, “WHY ARE YOU SO CYNICAL, CAITLIN?” came up.)
Red: Ending tentative relationships for the good of everyone involved. Thanks, Juliette Binoche.
I love John to death, and if I ever saw him again (it’s been years) I’d greet him with a big hug and want to know about all he’s doing. I heard he graduated with that film degree, so best of luck to him – but I never want to watch another movie with him. EVER. AGAIN.
I associate this one with the worst date I’ve ever been on.
I am sure this guy is someone’s soulmate or something cheesy like that. Just…not mine.
Aside from the horrific reasons the date was something you would see a la Must Love Dogs or something, even the waiter felt bad for me. When the waiter is patting your shoulder comfortingly, trying to steer the awkward conversation FOR you to how fabulous my shoes were, and ends the meal by giving me approximately 2,400 mints in consolation, your date is worse than bad.
(I fed all my friends mints out of my purse for months after that date. True story.)
We had planned to go see a movie later – thank God I told this guy I needed to just…go and skipped that. But we did have the most awkward conversation about a movie ever.
Me: So…what kind of books do you like?
Him: I dunno. Read Troy Aikman’s biography about three years ago. Probably the last book I read.
Me: Okay…what movies do you like?
Him: Dude, Talladega Nights is the shit! I fuckin’ love that movie!
Talladega Nights is not my favorite movie ever, but it was okay, I guess. I laughed a little. And I’m pretty non-judgmental about movies. But he proceeded to tell me exactly how much he loved Talladega Nights and why, very loudly. So loudly, he got the attention of every other diner in the restaurant, who stared at us as if we were creatures in a zoo exhibit.
I watched a lady pause with a forkful of linguine on the way to her mouth and stare at my date and I, dumbstruck, at the guy waxing poetic about how Will Ferrell is a genius and how Will Ferrell “really got” NASCAR and then just look at me, as if to say, “Is he joking?”
There has only been one time I’ve run faster in three inch stiletto heels, and it wasn’t by much.
Consequently, I associate this one with humiliation, awkwardness and lots of chicken parmesan. Ouch. Also, any time I hear the term “shake ‘n’ bake”, I think, “Are people staring at me funny?”
This one comes courtesy to you of The Last Boyfriend; not the last boyfriend I will ever have (let’s hope not, Jesus, that would suck), but the last boyfriend I had, who is by all accounts a swell guy. It just didn’t work, we went our separate ways, stick a fork in and all that.
The only movie I EVER watched with this guy was Idiocracy. “Dude, you have to see it. Duuuude,” is how he described it to me. Fair enough. I bust out tons of “DUUUUDE, you have to see it,” when we’re talking Die Hard or Shaun of the Dead or any of that sort of thing, so I watched it. And it was okay, I guess, in that whole, “We’re going to take three jokes and make them stretch for a whole movie” kind of way. But, you know, these are little things, and I sat through it with good humor.
Last Boyfriend, however, could not sit still. “I have to go to the bathroom”. “I want another beer”. “Where’s my phone?” “What time is it?”
Me: “AAAAAAAAAAA SIT DOWN AND WATCH THE MOVIE!”
I can’t stand it when people watching movies with me jack-in-the-box all over the place. It drives me bananas. If it’s me by myself, okay, I’ll pause it, but if I’m with people? Sit your ass down and look happy and suffer through it. One bathroom break I can understand, but OH MY GOD STOP INTERRUPTING ME.
It got to the point where I seriously considered finding bungee cords and tying him to the couch if he didn’t cool it.
I still haven’t finished Idiocracy, because Last Boyfriend got hungry and we had to go to Whataburger even though it was eighteen million miles away because that’s his favorite, and by the time we got back, I just couldn’t pick up Idiocracy again and chose to go home and stare at my wall instead.
Now, everytime I see this movie advertised, I feel like someone just stuck a needle full of caffeine into my neck and I can’t sit still. Hate. Hate, hate, hate having to hear about this movie because the jitters aren’t that worth it (there’s only so many “kicked in the junk” jokes I can hear before I get tired, y’all).
So, this is where I turn the floor over to you: Am I alone in this thing? Or are there movies that you, too, cannot stand because of your exes?