WEIRD SCIENCE (1985) is a John Hughes film about two teenage boys who use a computer to design an idealized woman.
12/08/09 | Film

Weird Science

by Ravi Mangla

Kelly and I are waiting in line for liquid nitrogen ice cream. She is complaining about the length of the line, as if we’re entitled to priority service. Overhead, a seraphic female voice hammers the day’s refrain: The Future is now. Refreshments are in the band room. Kelly and I are finally at the front of the line. We watch the girl pour milk, cream, sugar into a steel mixing bowl, her arm gauntleted in the sort of thick hide glove used for handling birds of prey. She pours the thermos of liquid nitrogen into the bowl. A cold mist rises, billows over the table, down onto the sneaker-scudded gym floor.

“What makes it so cold?”

“The liquid nitrogen,” the girl says. She packs the ice cream into cones. We point out our toppings. I pay.

“This ice cream sucks,” Kelly says, after one bite, and heaps the cone on top of a composting exhibit.

“You wanted it.”

“I wanted ice cream – I don’t even know what you’d call this shit.” She grimaces and kicks a plastic dog – I’m not sure of the context.

I watch Kelly watch a model monorail. It’s powered by the artificial light in the gym. She can’t seem to decide if she’s bored or interested. The train snails around the track. After each lap the girl blows a wood whistle and pumps her arm. I ask one of the kids where all the volcanoes are. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about, asks if I want to see his robot slice a watermelon in half with a circular saw. I tell him there is nothing I want to see more. He passes out plastic goggles and ear plugs. A dozen of us crowd around. The melon bursts, and the seeds come hailing down, drumming against our safety-proofed eyes, which are wide and bright as kumquats.

Kelly wanders over to the Van de Graaff generator in the corner, a round silver orb on a Doric-esque platform. Her hands polish over the pedestaled shew stone. She palms the orb and reaches her other hand out to me, fingers splayed.

The kid switches on the machine. A dry surge of electricity prongs through her.

“Grab my hand,” she says.

I chain my eyes to the first exhibit I turn to. “Can’t. I’m checking out this – yam launcher. Pretty neat.”

“Just grab my hand. Do it.”

“According to the poster, it’s the latest in yam warfare technology, shoots fifty rounds a minute. Did you know that yams are more aerodynamic than your garden-variety potato? And they have sharper ends. The army’s already ordered four hundred of these suckers.” I look at the girl. “Is that true?” The pigtailed girl nods her head coyly.

“Why are you being such a little bitch?” The bones on the back of her hand emboss as she strains to reach me. I follow the hairs on her arm north, toward the sprinkler system. The pigtailed girl tugs my arm and tells me that taking into account the humidity in the gym, I want to aim several inches above my target. The potato misses, ricochets comically off a crossbeam, and spuds a hole through a terrarium housing scorpion/tarantula crossbreeds (scorantula). Everyone flips a shit. Glass shatters. Mechanisms sputter. Shrieks, both high and low, echo through the gym. I follow a group of Spanish teachers out the emergency salida.

The Future is now. Refreshments are in the band room, the heavenward voice reminds.

And I know better than to look back.