08/20/2008 By Shawn Burns

I need to know something.

I took a day off today, which meant, as usual, that Erin went to daycare and I went on a bike ride and watched a movie. The bike ride was great; the movie was average.

I seem to have a special ability; a sixth sense. Whenever I abandon my daughter to the care of strangers and take a day for myself and guiltily hide from the spying, judging eyes of the world by ducking into a movie theater, I pick the worst possible movie to see given my guilt and my judgment paranoia.

For instance, today I saw a movie called Henry Pool Is Here. Luke Wilson stars as a man who finds out he is terminally ill, buys a house in his childhood neighborhood looking for comfort in the familiar, and tries to drink himself into depressed oblivion before he dies. He is alone, without any hint of family. This is the kind of movie I choose to see, without knowing anything about the plot, on the day when I’m alone. Idiot.

But today doesn’t even compare to Erin’s very first day at the day care center. The first day when I wasn’t home with her. It was a test, to make sure she’d be able to handle daycare if we had to use it in the future. I didn’t need a break or have to run errands or anything like that. So I was feeling especially guilty about taking the afternoon off (yeah, it was only 4 hours of daycare, not even a full day). I went to the movies, and I saw two films, back to back.

No Country for Old Men and I Am Legend.

Completely, utterly, insanely bad choices.

The movies were fine, even great. But let me synopsize these two features, selected by me on an afternoon when I had sold my daughter to gypsies.

No Country is the story of man who finds a whole bunch of money at a drug deal gone bad. Someone figures out that he has the money, and they hunt him. So he has to leave his wife and go on the run, holing up in hotels and motels and fleeing from the creepy menace that is Javier Bardem, as well as from some Mexican gangsters. Ultimately, and if you don’t want the end spoiled go ahead and skip to the next paragraph…..ultimately, he fails. Despite his competence, he weakens for a moment, and he is killed like a dog. He dies far from his wife, and because he has failed her and defied his nemesis who has promised to kill her for his defiance, she dies too. There is almost no movie that could have been a worse choice to see on that particular afternoon.

Almost. Because I saw the worst movie to see on that particular afternoon immediately afterward.

I Am Legend is the story of a brilliant scientist who is the last man on Earth. He watched his wife and son die in a horrible accident during a panicked evacuation from New York after the cancer-cure he develops starts turning everyone into crazy zombie things. After he watches them die he spends years in insane isolation, trying to cure the zombie things: because he can’t bring his family back, but maybe he can perform the near-impossible and make up for destroying the human race and killing his family.

This was not a good, relaxing afternoon at the movies, folks. This was vengeance. Retributive justice. Karma.

I biked away from the theater today feeling as I tend to on these days: guilty. Missing my daughter. Wondering why I need to take even these modest breaks from the routine. I suppose I need to know that these breaks are worthwhile.

But not as badly as I need to know where the 40 year old dude on the bike in front of me was going, in his khaki pants and his loafers and his visor.

And his Bob the Builder backpack.

Just curious, dude.

(Editor’s Note: As some people have pointed out, I actually don’t really remember the plot details of I Am Legend. Do not count on me for movie reviews. I actually just sit in the theater and tweet.)