by Caren Crane
I did two of my favorite things on Saturday: worked a Girl Scout cookie booth and watched a movie. These things may seem to have nothing in common and at least one of them may seem a bit...er...questionable in its entertainment value. I contend they are but two sides of the same coin. The coin being, of course, human nature.
First, the cookie booth. Setting: the sidewalk next to the entrance to a popular grocery store chain catering to people who like to spend (in my opinion) too much money for food. The clientele here tends to be more upscale, picky and - I'll be honest - unsociable than at other area grocery stores. However, we tend to sell lots of cookies at these stores, so the cookie booth spaces are much in demand and we were thrilled to be there. Saturday, the high was about 36 degrees F, but it felt about 10 degrees colder. Our booth was in the late afternoon/early evening, so it was about 33 degrees and felt about 24 degrees. It was COLD.
Cold is good when you're selling cookies. So is rain and high wind. People feel sorry for the girls and you get more sympathy buys. IF the people will make eye contact. Most do, some don't. Some pretend not to speak English. Some said they already had plenty at home, which is nice...except the cookies haven't come in yet. We got some early for Super Bowl weekend, but they won't be delivered to folks who ordered until next week. Yes, friends, these people lied to our faces. We expect that, because we hear the same things every year. I always find it fascinating to watch people react - or try hard not to - when confronted with lovely young women peddling a product they don't care to buy. What to do? Avoid eye contact? Feign no knowledge of English? Lie? As a writer, I study these reactions and file away the facial expressions, the body language, for future use. Oh, yes, it will appear in a book someday. *g*
Next, the movie. Actually, this is a two-parter. On Friday, we got Nights In Rodanthe from Netflix. I'm not going to start a Nicholas Sparks fight, but let's just say I found it more than a tad ridiculous from a got-things-in-the-Outerbanks-all-wrong perspective and hilariously over-the-top from a let's-randomly-kill-off-a-major-character perspective. I loathed it. My younger daughter loathed it. My husband disliked it. I may have indulged in a bit of a rant about my displeasure with the film. My husband witnessed this.
On Saturday, we watched Inglourious Basterds, a Quentin Tarantino film. It was completely ridiculous from a got-things-completely-all-wrong perspective and hilariously over-the-top from a let's-kill-everyone-off perspective. I loved it. My older daughter loved it. My husband LOATHED it. Further, he took exception to the fact that we enjoyed it so much and indulged in a prolonged rant about it.
So, if both films were ridiculous and over-the-top, why did I love one and loathe the other? I think it's because when I sit down to watch a Quentin Tarantino film, I expect it to be ridiculous, hilarious, bloody and most certainly over-the-top. I enjoy that ride and expect Tarantino to take me there. My assumption, because it's my point of view (the only one I know) is that most people would enjoy that ride, but I know some people don't.
When I sit down to watch a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, I expect it to have an incredibly sappy storyline and I expect him to kill off a major character at the end for no apparent reason whatsoever. That is the ride Nicholas Sparks takes people on. I HATE that ride. But, as my husband pointed out, apparently many people enjoy that ride and keep signing up for it. Let it be known that my younger daughter put that movie in HER Netflix queue and it was not, in any way, a selection of mine.
I am fascinated by the fact that people love that ride. I don't understand that love, but I know it exists. I want to interview some people who enjoy the sappy set-up followed by crushing heartache and ask them why that's fun. I've heard people say, "Well, that's more realistic." Maybe for them, but not for me. I have never fallen in love with a man who said all the right things and was incredibly noble to boot. I also have never had the one true love I knew for four days (or two weeks) die tragically before we ever got to spend any time together. So...maybe I'm missing the entertainment part.
In Caren world: Tarantino - ridiculous and fun; Sparks - ridiculous and depressing.
My husband is still angry with me for not agreeing that I should loathe Tarantino and his ridiculous handling of WWII in the way I loathe Sparks and his ridiculous inclusion of wild ponies in Rodanthe. The difference is, Tarantino knows that everyone knows Hitler did not die in a cinema in Paris. But I think Sparks just figures 99 percent of people reading his books or watching the movie won't know there are no wild ponies in Rodanthe. They are on Shackleford Banks (an island) and Ocracoke Island and I don't think the ponies took a ferry over and trotted up Highway 12!
So, human nature. Are you able to forgive the ridiculous and over-the-top and simply enjoy it when the creator is in on the joke? Can you enjoy it when you feel the creator is simply hoping you don't know any better? Do you make excuses instead of simply saying, "No, thank you" to people selling things? Do you feel guilty for saying no? I am an avid student of human nature, and I want to know what makes you tick!