Warning: This stunt performed by a professional columnist

You know you are on a really special date with your wife when she turns to you, rests her head momentarily on your shoulder, and says, “It’s worse than seeing porn.”
This romantic moment occurred when we were standing in line for a movie last weekend. The movie — and I’m not proud to admit this — was “Jackass Two.”
Choosing “Jackass Two” was, in all fairness, a spontaneous decision. It was 9 o’clock on a Saturday night, and we had just seen appropriate grown-up fare: “All the King’s Men.” Now, however, our daughter was at a sleepover and so we figured (as Ernie Banks said about baseball), “Let’s play two.” Yes, we’d enjoy a good old-fashioned double feature. “Jackass Two” began at 9:45, and we decided we’d see it. Then, as if we were (Gosh!) James Stewart and Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” we even strolled to the nearby Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop for ice cream between the two films.
Then, however, as we were returning to the theater to purchase our tickets, we realized that we were not especially proud of our choice in a second feature. There standing in the lobby was our old friend, Jennifer Nachbur. Nachbur works at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. When she asked us what we were going to see next, instinctively — reflexively — we both lied. (Sorry, Jennifer.) I looked at the movies that started after 9:30 at night and mumbled “Last Kiss.”
It’s hard to be a middle-aged couple and tell people you actually want to spend $16 to see a group of guys climb aboard rocket-propelled skateboards or grocery carts, or voluntarily attach a leech to an eyeball. Just for the record, those are the only moments from the movie that I feel comfortable describing in a family newspaper. The others, if you have the common sense to be oblivious to the Jackass phenomenon, involve creative attempts among the guys to make one another vomit or become forever incapable of becoming a father — which, actually, might be just one more example of Darwin’s principles in action. Does anyone really want Johnny Knoxville or Steve-O — the moron who intentionally sticks a fish hook through his cheek and then goes swimming with sharks in “Jackass Two” — to continue the species?
Yes, my wife and I were suitably embarrassed. Apparently when I was purchasing our tickets, I was mumbling so softly and with such shame that the ticket seller had to ask me twice for the name of the film. When a very kind woman who reads this column regularly introduced herself to me in the lobby a moment later and asked what we were seeing, I answered, “Oh, we just saw ‘All the King’s Men.'” Then I prattled on for so long about Sean Penn’s performance that I bored her into submission. She retreated before I was forced to admit, “Oh, my wife and I thought we would see ‘Jackass Two.'”
But it got worse. The movie was so popular opening weekend that we had to stand in a special “Jackass Two” ticket holders’ line so the whole world could see us. This was, not surprisingly, when my wife murmured that she was more embarrassed than if we were in line to see an adult movie.
And we were pretty obvious in that line because I was the only male not wearing a ball cap backwards, and my wife was the only female not sporting a baby-doll tee and flip-flops. We had, by even the most conservative estimate, 15 years on everyone else in line. We looked like … and I hate to admit this … chaperones.
So, in hindsight, do we feel like jackasses ourselves for watching “Jackass Two?” Not at all. The movie was a little long — it’s short, but a little “Jackass” goes a long way — and yet it was also so childish and appalling and absurd that it was downright liberating. Best of all, it was so disgusting that my wife spent a sizable part of the film with her head buried against my shoulder.
Now that’s a good date.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on October 1, 2006.)

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.

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