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Surviving Carrie & Co.

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

Seeing 'Sex and the City' won't cause irreparable harm to any man -- even though it is a tad long at 2 1/2 hours.

June 02, 2008|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

Man should not live by bread alone. Every once in a while, he should turn off The Game, ditch the remote, put on some clean clothes and embrace his feminine side.

That's what one man set out to do Friday when I journeyed to Glendale and dived into the first-night frenzy of "Sex and the City." Following in the steps of the countless legions of rabid female fans and their gay male comrades who packed theaters around the country to worship at the spiky heels of Carrie Bradshaw & Co., I wanted to see if I too could get "Carried Away." Accompanying a female posse of devotees, my attempt at a Girls Night Out hit a few bumps.

Just thinking about this undertaking probably horrifies the multitudes of proud beef-eating men who would rather endure a thousand shopping trips with their significant others than spend more than a minute with the "Sex and the City" crew. Weeks before the opening, in locker rooms and around water coolers, they spread their anti-"Sex" venom, declaring, "Heck, no, we won't go." Only they didn't say "heck."

However, there exists a quiet ya-ya brotherhood of straight men who have a divine secret: They can enjoy "Sex and the City" even without female coercion or guidance. The writing on the HBO series was often clever and snappy, the women were smart and attractive (I always had a weakness for Cynthia Nixon's Miranda), and the show provided valuable insight into how women view men, love and relationships. And contrary to the beliefs of the "Sex" haters, the girls seldom indulged in male bashing. The husbands and boyfriends had shortcomings, but they were generally honorable, decent dudes whom most guys wouldn't mind hanging out with.

Most important, I didn't feel my masculinity was at stake by attending a movie featuring four sexy women cavorting in New York City. Clint Eastwood made "Bridges of Madison County," and his macho cred wasn't tarnished one bit (OK, maybe that one scene when he's looking lost and forlorn in the pouring rain, but we won't quibble).

Still, most of my ya-ya brothers-in-arms -- perhaps fearing ridicule from their more testosterone-driven buddies -- went further underground as the buzz about the movie reached crescendo levels, so I invited myself to join a group of first-nighters organized by my friend Michelle, a professional in her mid-30s who describes herself as "serially single." She had purchased tickets far in advance for a multicultural group of five women, both single and married.

The outside of the theater was overrun by groups of women ranging in dress from classy to casual. Michelle's clique was meeting before the show at an adjacent restaurant, and when I arrived, the cosmo-fueled gathering at the bar was in full swing. It was too late to catch up, and my one feeble attempt at pre-show bonding with the women, most of whom I didn't know ("Hey, how about that 'Ugly Betty'?"), fell on deaf ears. It was all about "Sex and the City."

"You're very lucky we're letting you into the 'spa,' " Michelle said. She bounced with excitement in her purple high heels.

Sitting near her was Melinda, 38, a freelance reporter, married with children. A longtime fan of the series, she said her husband was all but doing victory laps around the house over not having to accompany her. "He's just happy I found someone to go with," she said, sipping her cosmopolitan. "I'm so looking forward to this."

By the time the posse, which also included single, aspiring singer Nichole and Samantha, a publicist who has a boyfriend, made it into the jammed theater, we had to settle for the front rows. Filling the venue were groups of women, a few males sitting together, and some couples. The number of men inside wouldn't amount to a flag football team, but none of them had that "walk the plank" look.

A huge cheer erupted at the first hint of the show's Latin-flavored theme. Occasionally I would hear a murmur from Michelle or someone else in the posse ("Who wears glitter to work? Who would wear pearls to bed?"), but mostly the audience, which seemed familiar with the characters, sat in rapt silence. A collective gasp erupted at a surprise betrayal (no spoilers here). It was also the first time I can remember when an empty, double-doored closet almost got a standing ovation (you had to be there).

As the final credits rolled after 2 1/2 hours (!!!), the group filed out with happy though not ecstatic expressions. "It should have been two hours," said Tricia, who works for Herbalife. "Yes, it was long, but good," countered Michelle. They passed by many other impromptu discussion groups dissecting the movie and costumes. Many were already talking about seeing it again.

Though I had a good enough time, I felt that any movie approaching "Lawrence of Arabia" length without one explosion, gunshot or camel needed a bit of trimming. But it all turned out OK. When I arrived home, the late edition of "SportsCenter" was on.

--

greg.braxton@latimes.com

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