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The 7:20 p.m. for Inland Empire was sold out. And the 11:30 p.m. was sold out as well. David Lynch would be presiding over the showings, introducing his new three-hour, dark-and-dizzying, non-linear dream. We decided to go to the AFI in Silver Spring anyway. Maybe we could get in.
Maybe someone had gotten sick and kindly notified the AFI, thus freeing up tickets for me, my brother, and my girlfriend. We had tried this tactic earlier in the day for the sold-out 2 p.m. showing. We struck out then. This time I nudged my girlfriend to ask about any sick people. Even her considerable charm failed.
But we spotted Lynch in the lobby. I knew he smoked—he’d have to come outside. So we decided to loiter.
Just after 8 p.m., the line for the 11:30 showing amounted to one kid. The boy had just gotten an AFI attendant to get Lynch to autograph an Inland Empire postcard. He held the card aloft and screamed ohmygods. He inspected it over and over again like a lost-treasure map, tracing the director’s signature.
The boy then called his mom and thanked her over and over again for letting him be there. He shouted into his cell: “I think I did something stupid with your credit card.” He then called his job and thanked several co-workers for letting him take the day off.
And then Lynch walked out of the theater, caught my brother’s eye, and shook his hand. I walked over to the boy, grabbed him by the jacket, and whispered excitedly: “Do you want to meet David Lynch?”
The boy just breathed heavy. I shook Lynch’s hand and muttered something stupid. And then the boy got his turn. He thanked him for the autograph before rattling off all the Lynch movies he had seen, including Blue Velvet (twice at the AFI) and “Dune—your version of course.”
Lynch, the author of a new tome on transcendental meditation, offered a “thanks, buster.” He then turned to all of us and said, “See you guys” or “nice to meet you guys” or “see you guys later.” I’m not sure.
“Wow, he’s a really nice guy,” the boy said. He then looked at his autograph one last time. “I got it smudged,” he said before gently gliding it back into his jacket pocket. He then began calling his mom and co-workers again (he had hung up on his co-workers to meet the director). He needed to update them.
A few gutter punks walked by and the boy screamed at them: “I met David Lynch!”
A punk girl turned and snarled, yelling: “Are you autistic?”
“Yes I am and proud of it!” the boy shouted.