They MUST fondle the handbags, I explained to them, because teenage girls are required by the laws of nature to not only try on, touch, and sniff everything they want to buy, but to also try on, touch and sniff the potential purchases of any other female with whom they are on speaking terms at that particular hour of the day -- oh, and also because people are basically sensory stimulated.
They were unconvinced. Girls are just stupid, they insisted.
Yes, they are, but if people weren't sensory stimulated, sad songs would yield no tears and a softly held hand wouldn't tremble. Nobody would get nauseous at rancid odors and who would impulse buy those lint gadgets and fondue machines by the cash register?
Oh sure, the general agreement among "experts" is that impulse buys are based on price, but why then will a kid go into Toys R Us and beg for a toy they've never wanted or even heard of before? Because it's cheap? Children aren't interested in price. They go into sensory overload at all those spinning yo-yo's, light-up yo-yo's, and glow-in-the-dark yo-yo's, only to later forsake a brand new Duncan Imperial for a ziplock bag of gray Play-Dough that was once six tidy tubs of assorted colors.
People are sensory. We respond positively to things that taste good, smell good, feel good, look good and sound good -- and negatively if they taste bad, smell bad, feel bad, look bad or sound bad.
That pretty much sums up my hypothesis about what is missing from my latest screenplay. It doesn't hold any of the viewers' senses hostage. I need John McClane walking on broken glass or Matthew Quigley thirsting in the desert.
While I'm not suggesting that sensory story elements should be primary, there's a reason As Time Goes By is forever associated with Casa Blanca and food fights with Animal House.
And, I have to defend the ziplock bag of Play-Dough even though it lacks the sensory flash of a glow-in-the-dark or light-up yo-yo. Play-Dough has sensory staying power. Long after the characters' names are forgotten, people still remember that scene from Ghost where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore grope a lump of clay.
I was still mulling this whole sensory thing over when the guys abandoned my June Cleaver wisdom to check out the truck for sale next door by a neighbor who specializes in rebuilding performance cars. Neither kid needed the truck or even wanted the truck, but it was something to do.
When my son returned home, absent his buddy, I wanted to know what happened. Nothing, he said, until his buddy climbed in --
"He turned the ignition and a Hemi sprung to life. Then, the heavens opened up and a sparkling beam of light shone down on the dusty windshield and he hugged the steering wheel as a voice like thunder said, 'go ye into the bank and bring forth $9800' -- so he did."ME: What, no burning bush?
SON: I didn't think you'd believe me.
ME: Well, at least it wasn't a leather purse.
SON: Stupid girls.