When I asked, “Do you know what day it is,” my husband blinked and stared. So I cued him, “It’s a very special day.” His memory snagged on a limb hiding beneath the surface. Behind his eyes, the calendar scrolled and he scanned it for birthdays, anniversaries, Wednesdays, anything that would provide an answer to “What day is it?”
“Tuesday?” he tendered.
“Yes, and it’s a very special day, too,” I said. It was the day of the pre-release screening of the movie Grace Unplugged, and I had been selected by a big-time Hollywood public relations company to attend. Me! Made an official part of the paparazzi! Made a mouthpiece of the movie industry! Made a bonafied Siskel-and-Ebert!
“You sound like the dad in A Christmas Story,” my beloved broke in. “You think you’ve won the grand prize.”
I accused him of not appreciating his invitation to be my guest. He shrugged and left for work.
That night at the theater, though, he was right with me accepting the VIP treatment. We bypassed ticketing. An usher practically fell all over himself directing us to the screening room. When we approached the reception table, the man in charge made eye contact and asked, “Lucy Adams?”
“Yes.” I beamed my best member-of-the-media smile.
“You’re the writer? Right?”
“Yes. Thank you,” I gushed over the recognition.
While finding our seats, my husband said he didn’t think he could sit next to me for the movie. He said my big head was taking up too much room. He said the guy had downloaded a picture of me from the Internet and that’s how he knew me. He said the people sitting behind us had horrible foot odor that wafted between the seats, gagging him. On that final point, I agreed.
We were both going to change seats then, but the lights dimmed and the previews started and I whispered that it would be too conspicuous if I moved now. He taunted me, whispering, “Grand prize.”
The movie preview shown to entertain us before the opening credits of Grace Unplugged was pornographic in comparison. Grace Unplugged is the latest sample from the growing Christian film genre produced for the big screen. The main character, 18-year-old Grace Trey, performs with her father, a former down-and-out, one-hit-wonder rocker turned Christian music pastor, in their Birmingham, Ala., church’s praise band. But Grace yearns for the bright lights of a big stage.
A dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship and out-of-wedlock marital activities were promoted in the preview. The enormous disconnect between this clip and the anticipated main feature propelled the audience into nervous laughter, squelched only by the foot odor rising from the people behind me. “This is special,” quipped my spouse, with his nose tucked into his collar.
Opening credits rolled. Folks settled. Within the first few scenes, the Grace Unplugged characters had repeatedly lifted clear glasses of brown liquid to their lips. I ascertained that the set director was not from Birmingham, nor from Alabama or from anywhere within a 600-mile radius. The sweet iced tea had NO ice! Distracted by this egregious misrepresentation of Southerners, I ruminated over whether the sugar had been omitted, too. (My husband told me to let it go. As you can see, I haven’t.)
Later, at home, I hashed out the movie with my beloved. He criticized my fixation on the Grace Unplugged tea scenes. “This was a very special day,” I reminded him. I’d been appointed to the paparazzi. He nodded, amused. Then my kitten pooped in my lap.
It was a messy return to ordinary. My fall from special stunk.