For the record, when the press refers disparagingly to Manhattan intellectuals, I feel insulted. I’m not a Nascar fan. I don’t really get “The Hills.” I don’t call Barack Obama by his middle name. I like a lot of cultural things. I love contemporary art. I majored in Philosophy. I’m more than happy to eat sweetbreads. However, if there’s a street festival anywhere in the Manhattan area, I will find it, because I know that they will be selling deep fried Oreos. And while I don’t get “The Hills,” I completely and utterly get “The Girls Next Door” and am shocked that Hef and Holly have called it quits. One of my greatest dreams is to see a monster truck rally.
However, at a friend’s art show, the latter didn’t have much of a place in conversation. Instead, I ended up talking about classical influences with a good-looking man standing next to me. He asked me out, and suggested an independent movie. “Ah,” I thought. “A smart date. He wants to show that he likes independent movies now, but eventually he will reveal his love of ‘Monday Night Football’ and ‘Family Guy.’ I’m fine with that.” In retrospect, the fact that he referred to some other people at the show as “the hoi polloi” should have been a tip-off.
We went to the movie. It was a very old movie. It was set in an even older period. It had subtitles. It was a movie that made me want to stab my brain with a chopstick. The dialogue went something like this: “Oui.” “Non!” “Oui!” “Non.”
“Good Lord, it’s going to go on like that forever,” I thought. “Oui!” the character on screen exclaimed. Oui, indeed.
Finally, mercifully, it ended. “Wasn’t that great?” the Incredibly Intellectual Guy said. “Weren’t you moved?” He said this in a way that suggested being moved was the only appropriate response, as opposed to being in pain. I played it cool. I figured this was the “let’s pretend to be really smart all the time” portion of the relationship, wherein we would establish that we would both be big winners were we to be on “Cash Cab.” When I expressed some hesitation, he replied, “Perhaps you just didn’t understand it. Would you like me to explain it to you?”
This became something of a running theme. We went out to the opera. I remembered that while I love short, peppy Italian operas, wherein everyone falls in love and dances, I hate long German operas in which nothing happens. Guess which kind we went to? Once again, he offered to explain it. As he did with the raw food restaurant (apparently, cooked cow meat is destroying the earth), as well as a lecture (I would have understood it better if I’d read more Wittgenstein), and the next two foreign films (it’s moving, dammit!).
I found myself dreading these dates the way I dread dental appointments. But after having scoffed at prior boyfriends for watching “Old School” and National Lampoon movies, dumping someone because they were too into cultural things just seemed wrong.
That is, until the day came when I suggested seeing “Blindness.” It struck me as being a smart movie that might be acceptable, but apparently it wasn’t smart enough for the Incredibly Intellectual Guy, who immediately replied, “Are you joking? Why would you want to see that commercial trash? Did you miss the part where Julianne Moore is in it?”
“No,” I said, perplexed.
“I think we should see something at least remotely intelligent,” he replied. “We’ll go to Film Forum.”
“No,” I informed him, “we won’t. Because we are now broken up.”
The next day, instead of seeing “Blindness,” I went to see “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” It made me think about the plight of talking dogs everywhere. I found it moving.