July 29, 2018
On Sunday morning I woke up at 7:58 a.m., just as the unconvincing fake sun of my terrible Philips Wake-up Light alarm clock was approaching maximum brightness. Shutting it off just before the tinny beeping was scheduled to start prevented my fiancé, Josh, from waking, and I moved slowly in the darkness toward the bathroom for a shower. While showering, I wondered, “Did he actually wake up and pretend not to in order to keep me from feeling guilty for getting up so early on a Sunday to see Mission: Impossible—Fallout for the second time in twenty-four hours? If so, how sweet of him and also how ridiculous of me.” Our relationship in 10 words.
After packing my tote—the only one I own that closes with a zipper, which is more helpful than you’d think—I put on a backward baseball cap because it makes me feel cool and because I did not wash my hair. I looked in the mirror and thought, “I hate my hair. I’ve always hated my hair!” I would like to be rich and ask a hair consultant—not a hair stylist, a hair consultant—what to do with my hair, but I am not rich and the only hair consultants I know are people who exist only in my mind when I’m privately fretting over my terrible hair. One of them looks like Jonathan Van Ness. The other one looks like Mary Kay Place. Why is that?
Josh stirred. “You leaving?” I reached for his wallet and asked if I could borrow his unlimited MetroCard for the day. (I pay by ride because I don’t commute to work.) He said yes, I kissed him goodbye, and he mumbled, “I hope your mission isn’t impossible.”
The MTA’s only helpful creation, an app that gives you real-time subway data, informed me my train would arrive in eight minutes. This gave me enough time to get a large cold brew with whole milk. The barista who sold me my coffee smiled and told me to have a good day but did not introduce himself. I found this frustrating and offensive, as Josh told me Saturday morning that the same barista had recently introduced himself in an effort to “get to know” his frequent customers. I hate my hair!
I regarded my plastic straw with apprehension, then thought, “The planet is so hot and the water wars will start before I’m dead. I cannot feel guilty about this plastic straw.” I finished my coffee quickly so I could read from a book of short stories by Samantha Hunt, whom I saw at a reading just weeks prior, for the remainder of the train ride. I considered what a Samantha Hunt story about the New York City subway system would be like. A tragic flood? Mass drownings? A lone survivor?
My train ride was uncharacteristically zippy and smooth and brought me directly to Columbus Circle, six or seven blocks from the home of New York City’s one and only real IMAX screen, AMC Lincoln Square. As I walked uptown, past the Metropolitan Opera House, the Trump Tower used in Tower Heist, and an Apple Store I haven’t been to since 2013, I thought about how interesting it is that I rarely worry about dying in the subway and also came to the conclusion that Samantha Hunt would probably never write a story about the New York City subway system because it is boring.
After taking two normal escalators and one very long escalator to the top floor of the theater—the IMAX floor—I used the restroom (a stall, because urinals are gross). I mulled over the idea of purchasing of a large seltzer, price be damned, but, remembering that seats here are not conducive to bathroom breaks, held myself back. Once inside, I was overwhelmed both by the size of the screen (the largest in America!) and the number of empty seats in front of it. How could there be so many people in New York City who didn’t want to come to the morning screening of Mission: Impossible—Fallout at the largest IMAX screen in America??
A note: Fake IMAX screens are all over this city—and the rest of the country—but they cannot compare to the magnificence of this screen. Fake IMAX screens are a waste of money, and real IMAX screens are one of the best ways to spend that money. I found my seat, in the center of the center because I booked so far in advance, and shoved my tote underneath it. It toppled to its side. Thanks, zipper!
I watched Tom Cruise save the world from nuclear destruction for the second time in a row and exited the auditorium, bladder full but not to the point of discomfort or even a minor hypochondriacal response.
There was a long line at the men’s room. Here’s the worst part about the AMC Lincoln Square IMAX: when its men’s room gets busy, the disgusting people who don’t care about pee splatter and have no problem watching people violently shake their penises wait in a ridiculous and invasive line that ends mere inches from the three urinals and two stalls and take the next spot as it becomes available—be it urinal or stall. Refusing to take those odds, I walked in circles in the lobby until the line died down. So, when this one did, I walked directly toward an open stall and urinated in a teeny-tiny enclosed space, because I have standards or because I am crazy—one can never be sure!
I texted Josh to tell him how “unbelievable” the movie was and strolled into a nearby café for a bite and Wi-Fi. After ordering a small latte and a vegetable quiche (they were “out” of breakfast sandwiches), I sat down and began preparing a file I needed to print at Staples. The quiche was served to me with a side salad—mixed greens and a simple vinaigrette. I squinted at it after the first bite, confused by how good it was, given its price and the speed with which it was served. I finished the entire plate in 15 to 20 bites.
I took the train two stops south from Columbus Circle because I had access to an unlimited MetroCard, but looking back I realize I should have walked, because as much as I hate crowds and commuting into Manhattan on a daily basis (which I do not do anymore, thank heavens), I am a sap and find the city magical on the weekends, when I’m in no hurry and I have time to look up at buildings and earnestly think things like, “I’m so lucky to live here.” Once at Staples, a store that should be called “Stacks,” I bought the pack of paper I needed and went down to the self-service printing station to pay for things to be printed on it by lasers. This was more complicated and confusing than it should have been, and involved one refund and three questions to the impressively patient staff. Forty-five minutes after walking inside, I walked out with what I needed and hopped back on the train.
I arrived home some 30 minutes later to find Josh on the couch playing a grave and violent PS4 game called God of War, and after he saved his progress, the two of us spent the next three hours completing time-sensitive tasks related to our wedding. I will not go into detail here because the one thing I have learned about wedding planning is that wedding talk is boring for everyone except those being married. Saying, “It’s fine! Stressful, but fine!” is a perfectly adequate response when someone asks, “How’s wedding planning going?” “Stressful, but fine!” is, in my opinion, the phrase all people should use to answer all questions.
It took two episodes of Nailed It and three episodes of Seinfeld to finish our wedding tasks. Afterward, Josh and I walked to the neighborhood grocery store to buy ingredients for our Sunday dinner. I typically cook a very large meal for the two of us every Sunday because cooking elaborate meals has long been the only activity that reliably prevents me from feeling dread and anxiety on Sunday nights (people call this the “Sunday scaries,” but I do not, because it makes the Sunday scaries scarier), but because today was bursting with business and pleasure, I opted for glorified leftovers and an easy, seasonal dessert. I made a large green salad (ingredients bought that night) and tossed it with leftover fried chicken thighs I had made two nights before thanks to a video called “Carla Makes Crispy Fried Chicken Cutlet Sandwiches.” For dessert, I made a peach cobbler with fresh peaches. While preparing it, I called Josh into the kitchen and ordered him to watch. “I just want you to see how easy it is,” I told him. “It’s amazing.” After I dumped the simple batter into the melted butter and poured in the freshly sliced peaches, he was forced to agree. I took a picture after it was finished and sent it to my mother, who told me she made peach cobbler the week before. “Yum! Peach cobbler!” she wrote back. “That looks delicious!” It was.
I did not see her text until some time later, as Josh and I had moved into the other room to watch The Insider, that film about how the bad cigarette men lied about being bad cigarette men. Josh adores this film and had been proposing we watch it for several Sunday nights in a row, only to have me veto him and argue that it was too long. My compromise was that we start it on the early side—7:00 p.m. as opposed to our regular start time of 8:00—but we ended up pushing play at around 7:30. Stressful, but fine. While watching, I told Josh that Russell Crowe was only 35 when he filmed it, and that he was aged up for the role of what’s his name—you know—“the insider”! I also thought about how annoying it is when actors who don’t wear glasses play characters who do wear glasses, and how they’re constantly pushing their glasses up their noses as though it’s what people who wear glasses do, when—at least in my case—it is not. After moving on from that private frustration, I pulled out my phone and took a photo of the screen when Debi Mazar, who plays a 60 Minutes producer named Debbie, appeared.
I sent the photo to my sister with the caption, “Best performance of 1999.”
“Hahaha I’ve always thought so,” she replied .
I assure you this would be funny if you were my sister.
When The Insider ended, I thought about how old it felt. Then I did that thing I do when confronted by time—I considered the fact that I was as far away from the premiere of The Insider (1999) as the premiere of The Insider was from the premiere of Raging Bull (1980). Or Airplane! (1980)! Or Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)! After quietly feeding the cats and walking to the bedroom, I thought about how movies no longer end with overcranked shots—on actual film—of Al Pacino walking through a revolving door in loose-fitting pants and, like, three layers of loose-fitting tops and felt both thankful and sad. I brushed my teeth, got in bed, and considered starting a new book, but I knew I was too tired to retain anything. After checking Instagram one last time—Julia Roberts was playing cards with her niece Emma—I kissed Josh good night and curled up on my left side, hoping our new A/C would cool our bedroom quickly but knowing it wouldn’t because I skimped on the BTUs.
Next, in this week’s Tempo: Sarah Miller escapes—or does she?—to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.