My high school best friend was telling me about a freelance writing gig she's got. "It's for John," she said. "Remember Ernest Goes To Camp?"
It is not often that a five-word sentence can make me both gasp and giggle, but that one did it. The summer that I turned 17, she and I went to see that masterpiece of mindlessness, that pinnacle of puerility, called Ernest Goes To Camp. And somehow -- how? I wish I knew how -- we hatched a plan.
We were going to meet John later that day. We decided we'd insist that he come to see Ernest with us. Neither of us had the remotest romantic interest in him, but we were going to pretend that we did. Simultaneously, one on each side in the darkened theater.
So the title credit would roll and we would -- at the very same time -- sigh heavily and drop our heads onto his manly shoulders. (He was about 5'5" and 110 pounds.) At a specified line in the opening scene, we would run a hand up and down his arm. When Ernest laughed like an idiot -- no, that couldn't have been a cue because he laughed like an idiot about every 12 seconds -- anyway, at some other agreed-upon signal we would coo "Oh, John, what's that awesome aftershave you're wearing?" We practiced the inflection: was it to be "awesome aftershave" or "awesome aftershave"? We wanted to get it perfectly synchronized.
We wrote up our cue cards (probably annoying everyone else in the theater in the process) and left before the movie was over. We ran through the script a few times, pausing frequently to laugh and laugh and laugh at our silly plan. And then we met John and the three of us went back to the movie.
The first problem was, movie theaters are very dark. I remember squinting at my cue cards -- was I supposed to take his hand or whisper a sweet nothing when the guy in overalls came on? The second problem was, we found our idea so hilarious that it was tough to execute with a straight face. Snorting with laughter didn't do much for our credibility. The third problem was, we only planned for about the first fifteen minutes of the movie. What did we think was going to happen next?
I can't remember exactly what happened next, but I am still embarrassed and amused at the memory of the two of us stifling laughter in the dark. Today we were both shaking our heads at our former selves. "Were we high?" my friend asked in her message. I can say for a certainty that we weren't high. I plead seventeen-ness, and it makes me glad to be 38 and boring.