QUANTUM OF SOLO:   Leave a comment


Tonight I have a date with James Bond.

I haven’t showered, my breath smells like Ginger cookies, and I’m sitting semi-excitedly at our meeting place. I’m in the absolute best seat in the house at the Regal Gallery theatre, in Chinatown. It is Thanksgiving Day, and so far, its been a very quiet affair.
I’ve gotten very good at tuning out holidays; seeing people smiling and laughing as they gather with family and friends, happily sharing anecdotes and saying “Wow, you’ve gotten taller!” This happens to me a lot with my family. I swear, if I had actually been getting taller over the years, I’d be Shaq size now.
I haven’t taken off my coat yet, because I’m allowing myself to warm up. I’m by no means cold, but I’m not warm either. The chill outside followed me like an annoying little boy, up two escalators, past the ticket guys, down two hall ways, up a few more flights of stairs, and then to my seat. I haven’t been to a movie in a while, and already I’m feeling the tingle in my stomach.
I love that movie theatre smell. Whatever it is they use to clean the theatre carpeting has become synonymous with the exciting introduction of new films, of booming noises from the speakers and me, sitting with bright eyes in the darkness. I don’t smell popcorn—yet, but it will come soon. Its ten minutes to movie time and there is no one in the room but me, and I wonder if anyone is going to come. I wonder what the odds are of me being the only person to sit and watch this new James Bond movie—Quantum of Solace—by myself, undisturbed in complete privacy? I secretly wish it happens. That way I can pretend I’m sitting in the back room of my mansion, as I wave to my manservant Manfred to turn the projector on. In three minutes, this fantasy disappears with the appearance of a young Asian couple. They are holding a humongous tub of popcorn, and the man (they are a straight couple) looks at me for a few seconds. I can see that he is silently cursing. Dammit! He beat me to the good seat his eyes say. I acknowledge this telepathic declaration of defeat with a wry smile. He takes the next best seats, the two drivers seats in the middle of the theater aisle.
According to the engineers(I presume), the two seats that are just below the railings should technically have the perfect alignment with the screen, but in my experience, the seats directly above them are always better, especially if the theater is small. More people stream in as time passes, and a few more give me that look of defeat. Dammit, I’ll have to watch Bond a few degrees out of alignment!
I still haven’t’ taken my coat off yet, and I’m sitting with a bemused expression on my face. I am completely calm, and I’m probably even smiling. In my ears, I’m listening to the voice of Deepak Chopra talk about the Seven spiritual laws of success, but his Indian lilt is being drowned out by the Regal Cinema’s “First Look” promotional videos. I decide to take the headphones off.
Now its feeling more like a movie theater. People are filling up all the seats, and the smell of popcorn is wafting through the air. Conversations float back and forth, but I don’t really hear any of them.
As a screenwriter, a few years ago I felt a unique excitement at the thought of eventually producing a movie and seeing it in a theater. Whenever I got to the movies, I get that feeling of fantasy, when I see my film appear in a trailer, with an A-list cast and a five star review of the script from Rolling Stone Magazine. When I’m in the theater, for two to four hours (depending on which movie I sneak into afterward) I can escape my thoughts, and disappear into a world of film.

For a thanksgiving day, it has been relatively unconventional. I spent the day meditating and listening to Japanese audios. I read a few pages of Atonement, and made some Soy meat for dinner. (You could call it soy stew). In the days leading up to thanksgiving, people kept asking me incredulously: “You aren’t doing anything for Thanksgiving!!!!?????” I laughed as they said this.
Some people simply say, “Oh, he’s a foreigner, he doesn’t get thanksgiving.” This isn’t true. I do get thanksgiving, and why it is so important. But I’m tired of subscribing to the notion of this aspect of Americana; the lonely guilt tossed on single people on massive public holidays. On a boring Monday I get no calls from people to see how I’m doing. On a random Thursday no one is going to text me to say, “I’m happy I know you and blah blah blah!” But when thanksgiving rolls around, suddenly people are concerned that you live alone and you have no pets. I find this awkward.
I remember roaming around feeling lonely a few years ago on a thanksgiving and ended up in a creepy looking Lodge somewhere in Ledroit park. I ate some questionable looking Turkey and cranberry dressing that looked like human blood. You can guess I’ve never done that again.
The streets were quiet today. There was virtually no traffic anywhere, and I took solace( solace! I said it) in that. For a day, the city felt more empty, a little lifeless and in a way, it felt like mine. Everyone I knew was far away, with their families, sitting in warm houses, drinking god knows what and catching up. I’m sure my family was doing the same thing, the people in New York and elsewhere.
At 9 A.M in the morning, I received a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. It was a text message that read:
Happy thanksgiving! I am thankful you are in my life! Eat some turkey and enjoy your day! :p
I texted the person back to tell them they probably sent the message to the wrong person by accident. The person responded.
Accident? No, this is your roommate Christine.
(I have no roommate named Christine).
Either way, this sort of thing happens all the time. I might have actually felt bad if my parents hadn’t called me shortly before the message came. Then I would bemoan the fact that the only person to send me a well wishing thanksgiving text on the day was a stranger who sent me a message accidentally! Then I would have probably wept openly, happy to be going to the movies later on to live vicariously through James Bond’s sexual exploits.

At this point I decide to take my coat off. (the previews are about to start and I’m the only guy fully dressed: coat scarf, the works). I run to the bathroom awkwardly ( my knee is acting up) and head back to the theater. The screen slims down to wide screen, the lights dim and the movie starts. For two hours, I disappear into a world of car chases, bright lights and supermodels.

I enjoy the movie, and I hobble out of the theatre, ready to leave. I accidentally follow an EXIT sign into another movie, and I realize I don’t want to watch that new Vampire flick, Twilight. I sneak into Four Christmases and enjoy myself thoroughly. It is the first romantic comedy i’ve watched in a while where I didn’t leave the theater saturated with memories of past relationships. I like the plot, and even though the theater was cold, being in the company of people laughing was good.

I headed outside, and caught the bus home. In my jacket, resting under my seat, is my phone, which is set to silent, and digitally contains the message I got earlier from Christine. I look at it for a second, and smile.


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