The Saturday night neighborhood gathering was winding down. Too many hamburgers and too much potato salad had weighed down the stragglers in chairs on the patio. The citronella torches were burning, and the condensation on the beer cans made little wet rings on the outdoor furniture. Things were going smoothly until Irene asked if anyone had seen “The Help.”
“No, I’m dying to go,” Melanie said. “I loved the book.” Ellen and Trish agreed. They couldn’t wait to see if Minny, Aibileen, Hilly and Skeeter were exactly as they had pictured them.
“Let’s go Tuesday night,” Irene said.
“Yes, let’s all go,” three or four women said at once.
None of the husbands made a sound. Randy suddenly asked Irene’s husband, Sal, how he liked his new four-wheeler. He purposely used his outside voice.
“I really haven’t had a chance to take it out and put it through its paces,” Sal said. “I was planning to go out Tuesday night.” Randy allowed as how he’d like to see that.
“Wednesday night, then,” Irene said. The women all agreed that was good for them. All the men sadly shook their heads. It was a shame, they’d love to, but not on Wednesday, and, by the way, Thursday and Friday were bad for them, too.
“Why don’t you girls all just go by yourselves?” Sal said.
“Yesssss!” the other men agreed as one, that would be best. Why wait for us? We’ll see it when it comes out on DVD. Go have fun, enjoy yourselves.
“You said that about ‘Mamma Mia!’ and you’ve still never watched it with me,” Trish said to Max.
“That’s right,” Irene chipped in. “I wanted to see ‘The King’s Speech,’ but Sal talked me into going to ‘Iron Man 2’ instead. He said he thought that was the king’s nickname and pretended he didn’t know it was some superhero shoot-’em-up.”
“Who knew?” Sal said, while Max and Randy gave I-didn’t-know-either shrugs.
“I wanted to see ‘Julie & Julia,’ that movie about Julia Child, and Randy put it off until it left the theaters,” said Dot. “But we had to run to see ‘Spider-Man 3’ the day it came out.”
“Are you telling me in this day and age that men don’t want to see chick flicks? Didn’t that go out with eating goldfish and stuffing phone booths?” asked Irene. “I know I’m a woman, but I’m also a human. We do have a few things in common.”
“Like what?” asked Sal.
He had not really thought through that comment. Sometimes, he knew, his mouth worked faster than his brain. But he knew for certain that he had said The Wrong Thing. He quickly tried to cover his mistake.
“We both like ice cream,” he said.
Irene shook her head. “Not even close.”
“We’re both carbon-based life forms?” which only reminded Irene that he had dragged her to see the last “Star Trek” movie, but when she wanted to see “Benjamin Button,” things were suddenly hectic down at his office. A pattern began to emerge.
Irene decided to change her tactics.
“Yes, carbon-based life forms. That reminds me, has anyone seen the new ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie?”
Low moaned “nooooooos!” came from several women, but the men didn’t seem to hear it.
“I’m dying to see that,” Randy said. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was the heat, maybe a brain hiccup, but Sal said, “Me, too. Let’s all go Tuesday night.”
Max, who didn’t drink, tried to wave him off with a quick “What about the four-wheeler?” but the glue trap had been set, and the guys walked right on to it. The more they struggled to free themselves, the more they stuck to it.
“I meant next Tuesday,” tried Sal. “Yeah, that’s what he meant, next Tuesday,” the other guys agreed, but their hearts weren’t in it. Their enthusiasm for “Planet of the Apes” dwindled quickly.
“I heard it sucks,” Max announced.
“It can never beat the original. Charlton Heston. Now that guy could act. You’re not gonna see acting like that in the new one.”
“So that’s settled,” said Irene, “Tuesday night seems to work for everyone. We’ll see you at the movies.”
Jim Mullen’s new book, “Now in Paperback,” is now in paperback. You can reach him at jimmullenbooks.com.