I'm standing in line at an author's book-signing, noting some eye-catching titles on the nearby racks, like "Tantric Sex for Dummies," and "Feng Shui for Cats," when it occurs to me.
Somebody once said The Three Stooges define the difference between men and women: Men think they're hilarious and women don't. Hmm ... could be one of those high truths.
But what's the flip side of that theory? Has to be one. Then it dawns on me: Chick flicks. Absolutely. Men hate 'em and women don't.
Chick flicks have become a Hollywood cottage industry. You know what I'm talking about. They're romantic comedies with the guy played by (pick one) Ashton Kutcher, Hugh Grant, Dermot Mulroney, Topher Grace, Jimmy Fallon, Matthew McConaughey or Adam Sandler. They're paired up with (pick one) Drew Barrymore, Amanda Peet, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portman, Kate Hudson or Renee Zellweger. I've left a few out, but ...
The story line: Girl meets boy, or vice versa. One is available, the other isn't; girl and boy hate each other, or boy loves girl, girl doesn't love boy, or vice versa. One is shy, sick, angry about stuff that happened in the past, has amnesia, or is a criminal. The other looks past all the bad stuff because, after all, this is a love story. Then funny/ serious stuff happens showing the reluctant part of this pair that he or she really does want to do more than hold hands. Then, finally, the fireworks go off and movie ends.
Some have great dialogue and acting. But not many.
They offer a series of cutesy romps that most women -- my bride included -- love to watch because they have the telltale "AWWWWWW" scenes that merrily skip the story along the honey brick road.
In these scenes the guy actor is solemnly, eloquently declaring his love for the actress, the way a woman wishes her guy would do instead of stuffing his face with food while asking her where the ketchup went.
But when a guy sees an "AWWWWWW" scene, he's more likely to be slurping a soda than swooning. As one TV ad shows, the only water coming out of his eyes during the "AWWWWWW" scene is melted ice he accidentally poured into his face from his drained cup of soda. His teary girlfriend looks over and thinks he's weeping over this heavy, heart-wrenching scene. She's amazed, and suddenly feels ohh so close to him.
The guy doesn't get it, but perks up when he sees her giving him the knowing "Oh yeah ..." look.
"He's so sensitive," she'll tell her friends the next day. "He may be The One."
Women at chick flicks are like shaky-legged, drought-stricken fawns finding a lush water hole, able to drink clean, cool water as birdies chirp. There's nary a menace in the chick flick, no snackready crocodiles lurking just beneath the water's surface.
These movies are everywhere, and my wife wants to see them all.
So she worked out a great system. She and her girlfriends at work, also chick-flick fans, go see one once a month.
My bride is very considerate. She first asks me if I want to see the movie she and the girls are thinking about going to. All I need to hear is the title and the actors, and most of the time my brain flashes a message to my vocal cords and I hear myself saying, "Uh, no ... no thanks, you go ahead."
They go and come back filled with chick-flick affirmations on sap and circumstance.
Now I don't need to see only movies with body counts, 200-foot waves wiping out coastal cities, exploding cars and crazy robot tantrums.
While these action flicks are sometimes watchable for me, let's face it, most of them are just bigscreen attempts to shock us out of life-induced stupors with things that go boom. Call me crazy, but what's wrong with movies with interesting characters? Ones portraying complex, but human qualities. You know, ones that don't have Jim Carrey, Robin Williams or Carrot Top.
No, all the movie has to have for me is a fairly original story line, and good actors playing welldeveloped characters. For me -- and my bride likes these kinds of movies, too -- they tend to be offbeat indie or foreign films.
I gladly go see these movies. If they're flawed, I don't care; it just adds to their charm.
Which brings me to a third type of movie. The film which I'm sure will be horrible, but which my bride insists we go see together. I'll go, bracing for the worst. But honestly, most of the time I end up liking it -- even if it has a few chick-flick touches.
We'll watch it together, laughing at the funny parts. But then if the movie -- this good movie -starts mercilessly pushing the sad buttons, I have no choice. I'm a captive audience. There's only one thing for me to do. Blink, really hard.