(Possible Spoiler Alert!)
It’s ten o’clock at night and I’m leaving the movie theater with my friend Mike. It’s Mike’s 37th birthday so I liberated him from his wife and infant son and took him out for beers and a movie. After consuming greasy man food and a pitcher of Bass Ale, we went to see Eagle Eye – a movie about an all seeing, super secret government computer system run amok. While the movie was visually stunning, I found it a tad predictable. It was like HAL from 2001 and the WOPR from WarGames made a baby and we got to watch their love child wreak its inevitable silicon sociopathy upon humankind. Michelle Monaghan was the only reason I could keep my eyes open during the movie.
“What’d ya think?” I ask Mike as we walk towards my car.
“Great movie,” Mike replies. “Awesome.”
“Are you kidding me?’ I say. “I knew a computer was controlling everything five minutes into the movie.”
“Are you stupid?” Mike snaps. “It was a great movie. Great production values.”
I bite my tongue. Mike suffers from a psychiatric malady called Cinematic Reaction Formation Disorder – CRFD for short. People afflicted with CRFD will watch a horrible movie but, because admitting negative emotions about a movie they’ve been hyped into looking forward to and shelling out $11.00 to see might initiate a complete personality meltdown, the subject unconsciously converts their negative feelings about the film into positive ones. Anyone over thirty who says they loved The Phantom Menace or Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull suffers from this disorder. The most common treatment for CRFD is flooding the brain with old movies from the American Movie Classics channel. I recommend dosages of The French Connection, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Strangelove, and any film with Bogart in it. The prognosis for remission is Mike’s case, however, is poor.
“Let’s not argue about it,” I say, opening my car door. “You can never admit when a film’s bad.”
“Gimme a break,’ Mike says. “If the new James Bond film sucks you’ll be crying like a little bitch about how great it was.”
“It won’t suck,” I reply. “Daniel Craig will surpass Sean Connery as 007.”
“That’s fucking sacrilege,” Mike says, slamming the passenger door shut.
“Well I said it. So there!”
“You’re an asshole.”
Suddenly my cell phone rings. I answer it. It’s Mike’s wife. Mike “unconsciously” left his cell phone at home. Now she’s calling me.
“Tell Mike we need light bulbs,” Mike’s wife says.
“Now?” I reply. “Can’t it wait?”
“I have no light in the bathroom!” Mike’s wife shrieks. “How can I give the baby a friggin bath in the dark?”
“Okay,” I say, soothingly. “We’ll get some on the way home.”
“You guys aren’t drunk are you?”
‘Get here soon.”
“Okay.” I shut off my phone.
“Who was that?” Mike asks.
“Your wife, you deadbeat motherfucker!” I shout. “She needs light bulbs.”
‘What kind of father are you?” I chide. “Letting your kid bathe in the dark?”
“Okay, okay,” Mike says anxiously. “There’s a store near my house. Let’s go.”
Don’t get me wrong. Mike and his wife take great care of their baby. But early parenthood is stressful. Sometimes I just enjoy busting Mike’s fertile balls.
Mike and I pull into the parking lot of a 24 hour supermarket and walk inside. The garish florescent lighting accentuates the colors of the product packaging but makes the human beings shuffling along the aisles look pockmarked and old. We look at the plastic green signs hanging above the aisles noting the locations of bread, dairy, meat products – but no light bulbs.
“Where are the fucking light bulbs in this place?” Mike asks.
“Beats me,” I say. “Ask someone who works here.”
“Excuse me,” Mike asks a surly looking teenager unloading cans of no frills peas. “Where are the light bulbs?”
“I think they’re on aisle sixteen,” the kid says. “Maybe aisle seventeen.”
We find the light bulbs on aisle twenty. Good help is hard to find. As we walk to the self checkout counter Mike points to a round black video dome in the ceiling recording our every move.
“It’s the Eagle Eye,” he says.
“Oh boy,” I reply. “Scary.”
“Do you honestly think the government is watching everything we say or do?” Mike asks.
“I can see my car parked in front of my house using Google Earth,” I reply. “I’m sure the government has something better.”
“Yeah,” Mike says, “But there’s way too much information out there for the computers to process. They can’t keep up with everything.”
‘So you don’t think the government can monitor all out phone conversations?”
“Dude,” Mike says, “These assholes can’t even monitor Wall Street. What makes you think they can monitor all of us?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t tell me you believe in all that Echelon shit.”
“It could happen.”
“You read too many spy novels,” Mike says. “It took those bozos five days to get water to the Superdome. Don’t forget it.”
“You have a point there.”
Mike and I get into the self checkout lane. Mike the runs the light bulbs under the laser price scanner and pulls out an Amex card to pay for it.
“You need to use an American Express card to pay for light bulbs?” I exclaim. “You are one broke ass mofo.”
“Just wait until you have kids, asshole,” Mike retorts. “Now watch this. I’ll show you all this computer monitoring stuff is bullshit.”
Mike slides his credit card through the reader. When the computer screen asks him to sign his name, Mike writes “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE” in the signature box with the electric pen.
“I can’t believe you just did that.” I say.
“Watch,” Mike says. “It’ll clear.
”Sure enough, the computer accepts Mike’s credit card and we’re on our way.
“Eagle Eye my ass,” Mike says.
I drop Mike off at his house and drive home. The autumn night is cool and the stars are shining brightly in the cold sky. As I stand looking up looking at the heavens, I notice one of the stars moving rapidly across the horizon. It’s probably a meteor, a communications satellite, or a Soviet rocket booster left over from the 1970’s. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the Eagle Eye looking at me. Shrugging, I toss my paranoid notions aside, walk up to my apartment, drink two more beers, and fall asleep – dreaming I’m being chased by Michelle Monaghan. That’s a nice dream.