Ode to Arlene

On April 23, 2008, at 7:15 p.m. (a Wednesday) I met the talented woman whom I would cast in my movie, if I were to ever make one. The strange thing is, I never even knew I wanted to produce a movie until this character crossed my path. But once I laid eyes on her (fried yellow hair and electric blue eye shadow is kind of hard to miss) and struck up a conversation, all I could think about was how much this scene needed to be broadcast in a movie for others to share in.

            I simply had a vision.

            We shall call her Arlene.

            I should preface this encounter by setting the scene: I, frantic over an ensuing mid-term, was fervently pouring over my textbooks at Books-A-Million. She, frantic over the newly-discovered cellulite creeping up along her inner thighs, was fervently pouring over every beauty magazine imaginable. Oh, and the store was as silent as the crowd after a David Hasselhoff concert (if you don’t count the Boo’s)…until Arlene entered the picture.

            After plunking down in the chair next to me, Arlene let out a big hefty sigh and began drumming her metallic purple acrylic nails on the armrest; I immediately knew this was going to be a fascinating exchange.

            We bonded over the swapping of self-tanning tips, and we drifted apart during her 10-minute self-loathing session concerning the seven pounds she had gained in the last two months. After turning five shades of green while pouring over a magazine cover featuring Christie Brinkley, Arlene told me she was only 46 and that her face looked terrific (hers, not Christie’s). She also told me that she needed to up her cardio to 45 minutes this week, as well as up the amount of Vaseline she lathers onto her hands before clothing them in socks every night. Keep in mind, I still hadn’t asked any of these questions to which she so kindly and eagerly solicited the answers for.

            For reasons I shall never know, Arlene felt so comfortable with her new confidant (me) that she felt it safe to share her deepest, darkest secret: For two weeks before her high school reunion, Arlene applied St. Tropez self-tanner twice a day, everyday. And everyone at the reunion thought she “had just went to Hawaii!!!” She is a tricky thing, that Arlene. It was at this point that I started taking notes; I coveted her advice.

            While I was frenetically formulating some elaborate plot to remove myself from our area and over to the next set of chairs without hurting her feelings (I sensed she was a fragile lady) I looked up to find her silent, completely submerged in another magazine. I could tell she was getting serious now—she had whipped out an industrial-sized notepad and was feverishly taking notes on “Five Fabulous Ways to Firm those Flabby Abs and Flirt Your Way to Free Stuff From Men.” (A two-for-one; while I wasn’t sure how these two concepts could be featured in the same article, I was sure that Arlene considered them both highly imperative.) I couldn’t help but look over at her poor seven-year-old daughter sitting next to her and think, “This child is going to have so many problems later.”

            Nevertheless, Arlene’s antics served as a distraction from studying for me and proved oddly entertaining…and solidified the fact that I do indeed attract The Crazies. But I can’t complain—it keeps things interesting. And now, for some inexplicable reason, I have the burning desire to write a screenplay. So thanks, Arlene, for inspiring me; I hope I see you around again soon. And I hope you keep the Vaseline flowin’.

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