As It May

By: Aubrey A. Pedersen

It would be the perfect chick-flick. Girl just graduates college, BA in art, decides to travel crossed country for her last hurrah before entering the real world. In little red Volkswagen. Maybe a green one. Or maybe an Accord or Escalade.

Strike that, the car is not important.

This would all be told in narration, by the main character. And her name should be something fun, but not too weird. Maybe Elizabeth. There are a million and one nicknames for Elizabeth. Or perhaps Annemarie would work better. Maybe her name is actually Jessica, but everyone knows her as Red.

She should have a shirt that says "I am not a pastry" with a picture of a cupcake on it. Because it would be funny, and make her appear strong even though women in chick-flicks never are. The illusions of movies.

She also needs to have brown hair and impossibly large coffee-with-hazelnut-cream eyes, because all great chick-flick heroines must. It is the classic rule. She should be pretty, tall and trim, and the kind of girl who wouldn't have made it through college without getting married, and probably divorced, but the audience doesn't realize that because they all want to believe that romance happens to everyone.

The shot should open with her driving a long a dirt road. Maybe have the camera pull in over her shoulder, catching Elizabeth Annemarie Red looking at herself in the rearview mirror, instead of watching the road like she's supposed to. Maybe the camera should start from the outside of the car, bouncing along an abandoned dirt road, a worn down side street, or a quiet country highway.

There are, of course, two girls in the car. Our heroine and her best friend. The best friend must always be less pretty, less glamorous, less charming, but somehow have more experience with men than the lead. Her name should be cute: Sarah, Bobbie, Lyn. She should also be brunette, but shorter, and maybe with hazel eyes instead of the brown-just-so. Besides our kind narrator, she will have the first lines of the movie.

"Admit it. We're lost, Elizabeth/Annemarie/Red," she will say, while looking forlornly out the window at the cows, or grass, or trees that are zipping along outside much too fast for whatever speed the car is supposed to be traveling.

"We wouldn't be lost if you could follow the directions," lead girl would spit back in real life. She shouldn't be too mean, though. Elizabeth/Annemarie/Red must deserve the happiness she will get in the end, so her flaws must be small ones. Certainly nothing as unattractive as viciousness or sarcasm. Instead she must say, "Of course we're not lost Sarah-Bobbie-Lyn. We know perfectly well that we aren't where we meant to be."

The audience will laugh, even though the wording will make it difficult to understand the joke. Someone will get it, and someone will laugh, so they all will follow.

Here, Sarah-Bobbie-Lyn must insert the necessary man-bashing. There must always be at least one line per act, or the movie will not be successful with the target audience. Instead of arguing that Elizabeth/Annemarie/Red has flawed logic, she will accept it and say, "That doesn't make us any less lost. Stop being so like a man and pull over and ask directions."

Perhaps simply "Stop being a man" would work better. "That doesn't make us any less lost. Stop being a man and pull over and ask directions."

Yes, that seems clearer, so that is what she should say.

"Pull over where," Elizabeth/Annemarie will ask—it has been decided that Red is a stupid name—and thereby solidify her position as damsel in distress. She needs a man in her life to figure these things out for her.

She should just keep Sarah-Bobbie-Lyn around, as she is obviously smarter. In the perfect chick flick, though, there must be a man so she can't. "Look, there is a service station up ahead. Why don't you just stop there?"

The camera will pull out of the car and show it turning into the little station. It should be blue, or grey, or another drab and not interesting color. The town is small enough that attracting business by looks and landscaping is not important. The car is put in park and the two girls step out. Sarah-Bobbie-Lyn should look slightly rumpled, but Elizabeth/Annemarie should look pristine. Girls that fall in love always look like they just stepped out of a salon, because this somehow makes them more relatable and realistic, and proves that the hero didn't just fall for her for her looks.

Introduce our hero. He must be an every-ladies-man. The kind that half the audience will be unable to stop gushing about through half the movie—ruining it completely for the other half. But as the gushers will want to see super-hot-hero a second, third, hundredth time, the ticket sales will still be very good.

He should be tall, in tight jeans, and cowboy boots. If he's made the unsafe decision to work without a shirt and in a cowboy hat as well, he gets bonus points. He should be glistening from work in the hot sun, doing the most masculine thing of all—fixing a car. But we must not, not for a moment, be allowed to think he is not also a college graduate and the most sensitive guy ever to have been created by Hollywood's genius.

He is working at a service station simply because he likes doing it.

He will be the first to see the girls, and will step out from the garage with a goofy grin on his face and tip his hat slightly as he says, "can I help you ladies."

Elizabeth/Annemarie will look up at him, and they will fall in love with each other's insides instantly. Heroes and heroines in chick-flicks always manage to see past the impossibly good looks to what really matters in under five minutes, or you will run out of time to tell the exciting story of jealous sisters, failed weddings, or complications from past relationships. Maybe all of the above.

Sarah-Bobbie-Lyn will not look up from straightening her clothes, so our dear heroine must. She will smile sweetly and say quite simply, "I'm afraid my friend and I are a little lost. Can you tell us how to get back to the highway?"

The narrator should have mentioned before now that she hadn't started this trip looking for love. It never happens when you're looking, that must be a theme.

Cowboy man, whose name we cannot know yet, should lean on her car in all his sweaty glory and point north, "follow this road down to the diner. It will fork there. If you take a left it will take you back to the highway. Take a right and you'll end up right back here with me."

"Right?" Elizabeth/Annemarie must joke, cocking her head to one side to expose her pretty long neck. "So making the right choice would bring me back here to you."

"If you want to look at it that way," cowboy man will say, stepping back to slide his fingers into the pants of his impossibly tight jeans. "I sure would."

Or maybe they should have been having car trouble. Maybe we should start over and have them looking for a service station and Sarah-Bobbie-Lyn see one. Maybe Elizabeth/Annemarie should flirt with Cowboy Man and learn his name is Eric Steven Sampson. Or Joe Kevin Brown. Joe is almost always a good hero name.

Maybe afterwards he should offer to take the girls out to get some world famous raspberry lemonade from the diner, but Sarah-Bobbie-Lyn will insist they must continue if they're going to get to the hotel they've already booked online. Elizabeth/Annemarie will reluctantly get back in the car, and the ending conversation must be the same so we will leave the audience in suspense. Will she turn left and continue with her life, or will she turn right and further our plot like she should.

End of scene.