Six years ago, some time during the early days of sweater weather, on a Wednesday evening, I wandered downtown and watched The Matrix on its opening night. I sat down by myself, having heard nearly nothing about the film. All I knew was that at some point in the film, Keanu Reeves would shoot at some guy in a suit and sunglasses, and the guy in the suit would dodge the bullets. I was all up for a bullet-dodging film. But pretty quickly I realized that The Matrix was really the deranged fantasy of lonely computer nerds who read Philip K. Dick in their spare time. What if, the movie was slyly asking us, those puffy guys in the mall with the golf shirts and the security key cards round their necks were kung-fu superheroes? What if they all knew how the world worked and everybody else was just a snotty ol' lump of stupid-goo? Could it be that these doughnut-chewing code twiddlers are not only smarter and cooler than us, but are also able to kick our noses through our assholes in the time it takes us to ask for a cruller? The Matrix came back with the most terrifying response of all: Only those who know, may know.
I was very poor in '99, too poor to afford a movie and a beer in the same evening. In one of those paradoxes of poverty, being poor meant I could afford to stay up all night drinking coffee, so I went from the theatre over to a wine bar called Alfredo's. The waitresses all more or less ignored me, having figured out long ago that I was a lousy source of tips. I ran into a guy from university named Scott, who was waiting for the late show. I knew Scott through his roommate, a friend of mine and an honours English classmate. Scott habitually wore a motorcycle jacket and always composed his face in a satisfied expression that suggested the Demerol was just kicking in. His hair fell down his shoulders in oversculpted Nickelback-style blond ringlets, the sight of which always produced in me a profound irritation. Nonetheless the surrounding small towns and isolated suburbs produced a reliable stream of young women who loved his hair and would one day go on to buy Nickelback CDs, perhaps in fond remembrance of their long-ago boyfriend. We talked for a few minutes about The Matrix and then he left to see the movie.
That was the last time I ever saw Scott. True story.
In May of 2003 I saw the Matrix Reloaded with my wife (the Schmutzie) and a friend named Craig.
Craig was once Scott's roommate, and indeed, I knew Scott through Craig. A crazy connection. But it gets crazier. I asked Craitg what Scott was up to, and he told me, but within a week I had completely forgotten. Is it possible that Someone - or Something - didn't want me to know the truth?
And then, in November of the same year, on a work trip, I saw The Matrix Revolutions in Halifax with a friend.
And we thought it sucked. True story.