January 22, 2011
If you have friends, as I assume some of you do, then you know that nothing beats playing existential head games with them. Here’s an example. For the last five or six years, I’ve been telling one pal of mine that his job, his friends, his family – his entire life! – is one big ruse, set up from the moment he was born for a singular purpose. To pants him. None of us really like him and none of us are really the people we say we are. We’re all just actors employed to orchestrate the finest, most embarrassing pantsing in history, one that will leave him so full of shame that he will likely lose the confidence to even speak to another human again.
He, of course, can’t know when this pantsing will happen. Could be next week. Could be fifty years, perhaps at a family reunion, where dozens of grandkids will point and jeer and revel in his waist-down nakedness. That’s the beauty of it. The anticipation, the butter-thick air of tension that will envelop his entire life. I assure him that I’m his only true friend because I’ve revealed this truth to him. And he laughs as if I were joking, though I know I’ve hit a nerve. Because deep down he must wonder. Especially if he’s reading this now…and tightening his belt…
I know, I know. Sounds very Truman Show. Or The Game. But, if this premise were to hit the big screen (my email address is below, Scott Rudin), I think it would have more legs than those tired old hack jobs. Just imagine the trailer:
INT. CLASSROOM – DAY
Fade in on a math class full of grade schoolers. A TEACHER writes an unfinished equation on the blackboard. YOUNG JACK raises his hand.
Jack. Come on up and show us.
Jack stands from his desk. As he makes his way to the blackboard, a GIRL in the back row pantomimes a downward yanking motion with her hands. The teacher shakes her head subtly and mouths a silent “Not Yet.”
BOOMING VOICE: Prepare to be shocked.
EXT. FOOTBALL FIELD – NIGHT
A roaring crowd. TEENAGE JACK barrels down the middle of the field, football tucked under his arm. When he reaches the end-zone, he spikes it, and does a wobbly kneed touchdown dance. As teammates swarm him, the QUARTERBACK gives him a hug, but then inches his hands down close to Jack’s pants. Before anything can happen, the RUNNING BACK pulls the quarterback to the side.
Chill, Peyton. No greenlight yet. Besides, that’s lyrca.
BOOMING VOICE: When you see the film that made them faint at Cannes.
INT. CONVENTION HALL – DAY
MIDDLE-AGE JACK, wearing a suite, accepts a trophy from an OLDER GENTLEMAN at podium in a jam-packed Las Vegas Convention Hall. Jack shakes the gentleman’s hand and steps up to the podium. The gentleman looms nearby, his hands trembling in anticipation.
I have to say, this is really unexpected. And to have my family here makes it all the more special.
JACK’S WIFE, sitting in the front row, smiles humbly. His KIDS give the thumbs up.
I can’t think of what would make this day better. I don’t know if I even deserve this…
Behind Jack, a giant screen suddenly displays a message to the crowd: ABORT! SUSPENDERS.
The crowd lets out a disappointed groan. Jack’s Wife can’t help but shake her head. The kids mumble something under her breath. Jack lights up, misunderstanding.
Okay. Maybe I do!
BOOMING VOICE: But please…whatever you do.
INT. BEDROOM – MORNING
OLD JACK stands at his dresser.
You know what, honey?
BOOMING VOICE: Please don’t ever reveal…
QUICK MONTAGE: A barrage of images, Jack’s seemingly normal life flashing before the viewers eyes. Creshendo of music.
BOOMING VOICE: The horrible secret of…
INT. BEDROOM – MORNING
Jack opens his dresser drawer.
I think I’ll wear sweatpants today.
TITLE CARD: THE PANTSING