The Surreal Date Thread

One Friday night a few months ago, available light and I wanted to go somewhere different for dinner, so we got online to see what was out there. We found a theater in San Francisco that was playing Blade Runner, so we decided to eat at Bruno’s Italian restaurant which was nearby. I got lucky with parking and found a lot just a few doors down from the restaurant, although the building over the entryway looked like it might fall in the next earthquake. The food at Bruno’s was very good, and the decor made you think the Rat Pack would appear out of a time warp at any moment. So far, so good.

After dinner, we tried to find the theater. Neither of us remembered what it was called, but we figured there couldn’t be too many movie theaters around, so we walked up and down Mission St. There were a lot of art deco buildings that looked like they used to be theaters, but were currently bakeries, or pharmacies, or arcades, or just abandonded, with layers of posters stapled onto the boards. One theater facade had a bunch of people milling around in front, so we went for a closer look. The marquee which might have once said, “The Wizard of Oz” now said, “La Mission De La Fe”; it was a church. With some kind of function going on at 8 PM on a Friday. Some of the old women there frowned at the young people in club wear strolling past.

We went up one side of Mission St. for a ways, then turned and came back down the other. Eventually we came upon a place called Foreign Cinema, which we had passed over before since Blade Runner wasn’t a foreign film. It seemed to be the only theaterlike building that was currently a theater, though, and a rather inconspicuous flyer tacked on a billboard listed Blade Runner, so we went inside.

There was no ticket booth, only a long, bare corridor done in white tile, with occasional doors breaking the smoothness. We could hear voices from some of the doorways, and from the end of the hall where a woman was seated at a pedestal. As we passed a door, more people were seated and eating, and a stairway led up somewhere. The room was warm wood and candlelight, unlike the stark hallway. When we got to the woman at the pedestal, I asked about the movie. She said, “Oh, the movie’s free, you can just go back there and watch if you want.”

Confused, I went ahead to look while available light waited. I had to step around tables full of people, and waiters bearing trays of food and drink. The tables continued, but the walls ended, replaced with a formerly open courtyard that now had a clear plastic tent overhead. Through the plastic I could see some kind of image projected high on a wall beyond. I made my way to the back of the tent and out a flap, and then I could clearly see Dr. Tyrell in his conference room. There was sound, but it was mostly drowned out by chatter. Also, there was nowhere to sit, and I was now totally outside in the chilly San Francisco night.

I made my way back and told available light what I found, and we decided to leave. I had to use the bathroom first, which was another door off the main hallway. The bathroom was very dark, and the counter next to the sink had an enoumous bowl of rose petals, filling the air with their scent.

Once we got back to the car, I tried to go out the entrance since it seemed to be the only way out. But the attendant pointed to the sides, and I could make out ramps that blended into the walls. Unlike Mission St., the street we came out on was residential and very quiet, even though it was only a block over. In the stillness I saw a box truck full of boxes, with people swarming around it. I drove back to the freeway, through several intersections where the traffic lanes weren’t entirely distinguishable from one another. The onramp spiraled upwards, a full circle and another quarter, and merged immediately into the left lane which was obscured by a wall.

“Well, that was surreal,” I said.

So let’s hear your stories. And no, this wasn’t a dream or something I made up, if you were wondering.

Anyone? Bueller? Surely I’m not the only one who’s had a weird date.