You want the truth? I can't handle the movies!

My Hate/Hate Relationship with the Cinema

My friends know a lot about me. They know the real reason I don’t color my hair is because I’m lazy. They know I don’t like my peanut butter and jelly on the same sandwich. They know I can play "Wipeout.” And they know better than to invite me to a movie. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against eating popcorn in the dark. It’s what’s up on the screen that I have a problem with.

Basically what it boils down to is that I’m a big chicken. Been that way all my life. When I was just a kid, every year our local TV station would air "The Wizard of Oz” (remember, this was back in the days before cable television, so events like this were a pretty big deal) and while I adored Toto and was enthralled by the Yellow Brick Road, the truth is there were parts of that film that scared the bejeebers out of me. Case in point, during the scene where the wicked witch flies past Dorothy’s window on her broom as the house is swirling around up in the tornado, I used to have to run out of the room. Literally.

As I got older I forced myself to "tough it out” and remain in my seat during a scary movie, but I’d have been better off to flee. The worst was in high school when I went to see "Play Misty for Me”. I’ll never forget it. At four o’clock in the morning my mother came into my bedroom to find out why the top light was still on, only to find me lying flat on my back staring wild-eyed at the ceiling, frozen stiff in terror. I spent the rest of that night sleeping between my parents in their king-sized bed – and I was sixteen years old at the time! Honestly! How can people can sit through a movie like that and then casually say, "Who’s up for pizza?” I’m still haunted by those horrific images forty years later!

But violence isn’t my only problem. I’m not much good at handling conflict either. Yes, I know that for most folks the whole point of going to the cinema is to immerse oneself in the character’s struggle. The more menacing the threat, the more heartbreaking the turmoil, the more hopeless the situation, the more everybody likes it. Everybody, that is, except me. Call me naïve. Call me shallow. Call me a Pollyanna. No wait, I have to run out of the room during that one too – you know, when she starts climbing up the tree.

So here’s a quick recount: I don’t do blood. I don’t do villains. I don’t do tragedy. I don’t do despair. Oh, and one more thing, or actually two. I don’t do foul language and I don’t do nudity. (Did I mention that nobody wants to invite me to a movie?)

Oh sure, I know what you’re thinking – what’s left…cartoons? But actually you’d be surprised at how many movies are, as we say around our house, rated "G” for "Grammy”. True, they were all made before 1960, but I’m okay with that. The fact that I’ve seen every film Doris Day and Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and Gene Kelly and Bing Crosby ever made doesn’t bother me one bit.

What bothers me is that I have a nifty little iPod that allows me to view full-length videos, and I’m having a terrible time redeeming this gift card my son-in-law gave me for Christmas because apparently iTunes is stuck on this screwy notion that I’m clamoring for recent blockbusters and current Oscar-nominated films (can you imagine?) when what I really want to download is "That Touch of Mink.”

Well if that’s the way you want it, Mr. iTunes, suit yourself. But don’t blame me for taking matters into my own hands. You forced me into it. I mean, normally I’m all for playing by the rules, but your cinematic snootiness has left me no choice. Granted, it took a bit of creativity and ingenuity on my part, but as of this morning I’ll have you know that my little gadget is chock full of all the flicks I love most and not one of them came from you.

What’s that? You want me to reveal how I did it? Sorry, Mr. iTunes, my lips are sealed. Or as Bette Davis would put it, "I’d love to tell you, but I just washed my hair.”

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