Too Young to Patronize (Weekly Writing Challenge)

(Oh Weekly Writing Challenge; how you often save me from falling into a writing rut.  This week, we’re asked to take a side on whether or not children are welcome out in public.)

Babies love theater.  Bring them, no matter how young.  It is perfectly acceptable to give birth in the car on the way over and then bring in the baby, still dripping, into the theater.  Babies love theater. “–Eric D. Snider (More comments on theater behavior can be found here)

**********

Pic from here

As the neon marquee sign glowed overhead and the street lights did their best to bring visibility to the outdoors, patrons hurried into the warm theater.  A group of seven males high-fived each other, careful not to jostle their buddies’ thick glasses or bump into their vintage t-shirts.  The thinner, cooler males pulled their girlfriends close and made fun of the nerdier set.  Then, coming out of some darkened corner that only births Greek tragedies, came The Woman.

It wasn’t The Woman herself that terrified all that she came into contact with, it was her small child.  She pushed the high-end stroller in front of her.  Other moviegoers sneered and shuddered at the presence of the wheeled contraption.  Like the Bubonic Plague or an Obama sticker at a GOP gathering, the monstrosity was to be avoided at all costs.  To the people around it, there could be no greater sin in the practice of watching a new movie than to bring an infant with you.

The Woman was either unaware of the criticism being shot her way by eye-daggers and mental threats of throwing popcorn, or she didn’t care.  She was on a mission.  She strutted through the crowds, giving no heed to those around her, and made her way straight to the ticket-taker.

“I ordered my tickets online.  They should be waiting for me.”

“Okay then.  Just head over to that kiosk behind you there and it will print them up for you”, the usher replied.

“Ucccck.  You mean I have to walk all the way over there?”

“It really isn’t that far.  See those restrooms about twenty feet away?  There’s a computer right there that can take your credit card and pull up your reservation.”

“I know you’re not gonna make me walk my stroller all the way there and all the way back?”

“Well miss, there are an awful lot of people here and it is impeding their path.”

“I’ll lose my place in line!”

“Actually, I think those folks right there were first”, the staff person gestured.  “Also, there are no strollers allowed inside the theater.”

“No strollers?”  The Woman’s face lit fury.  Her expression showed that not only had an ice cube been dropped down her shirt, but the ice truck driver had run over her foot as it drove off.  “Why can’t I take my stroller inside?”

“It is our policy that strollers be parked outside the theater.  The fire code demands that all walkways be clear, so we can’t have them inside.”

“What about wheelchair spots?  Don’t you have those?”  The Woman’s demanding tone showed no sign of backing down.

Meeting The Woman’s determined mindset, the usher replied with a tone that showed their long history of answering such questions.  “Yes, ma’am”, they said, purposefully upgrading The Woman from a pleasant “miss” to a troublesome and irritating, “ma’am”.  “However, as you yourself have just pointed out, those are for wheelchairs.”

“Why can’t I use one of those?  What if there’s room?”

“Ma’am, this movie has been advertised for months.  It has been talked about for years.  This may very well be the biggest picture of the summer.  There will not be room for your stroller.  Even if there was, as I explained to you, we can’t have them inside.”

“That’s preposterous”, The Woman exclaimed.  “What am I supposed to do, put this kid on my lap?”

“If you didn’t buy ‘this kid’ a ticket; then yes.  That is what we would ask you to do.”  Other employees had noticed the line behind The Woman growing.  They moved in to help, but the senior staff person sent them away with one quick look.  The usher had started this fight, and they were determined that they were going to settle it without any help.”

“What are you, ageist?”

And this pic’s from here

“No, ma’am.  In the right settings I think kids are adorable.  However, I personally feel that when you bring a child whose hearing isn’t fully developed into a three hour movie full of loud explosions, then there is a health concerned involved.  Additionally, I would question your child’s ability to maintain their composure and not cry or scream during all the darkness and loud noises.”

“That’s only your opinion.”

“Five bucks says it isn’t”, the usher offered.

“Come again?”

“Let’s take a vote.  If you can find three people in this line of, what, forty folks all waiting to see this movie?  Looks about right.  Yeah, if you can get three of these people to say they’d rather see a new film, on opening night, at midnight, with your child than without?  Then I’ll give you five bucks.  Shoot, I’ll make it twenty.  However, I’m willing to wager that everyone here just wants you to take your kid home and come back when it’s a more age appropriate movie and time.  You know, a kids movie.  What do you bet?”

The Woman’s face turned a deep shade of red.  She pulled her stroller close to her.  The Woman looked at the crowd behind her.  On their faces she could see them all smirking and daring her to take the bet.  Her teeth clenched as she pushed her stroller away from the usher. 

“Of all the… I never…”

“Well now you have”, one of the nerds said as he puffed out his large chest and even larger belly.  The logo on his shirt was made prominent by the new posture, and also by the swooping cape that fell behind his round shoulders.

The Woman took her child and returned to her double-parked car.  After a few minutes of bustling and fumbling with the car seat, she returned home.  There, without disturbing anyone else, she let her child fuss and squirm as she watched a movie on her television.

Weekly Photo Challenge- The BIGger Picture

Once again, another photo because I couldn’t resist the Weekly Photo Challenge.

I try to explain to people that I like watching anecdotes play out on the big screen.

And when I say big screen, I mean it.  Go IMAX or go home.  🙂

The Father’s Sole Son

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Father’s Sole Son

It is a wise child that knows its own father, and an unusual one that unreservedly approves of him.” -Mark Twain

Floyd felt the lateness weighing heavily on him.  He had arrived to open the movie theater at nine a.m. and it was now ten at night.  He wanted to go home.  His bed was waiting for him.  His cat was assuredly hungry.  The only thing standing between Floyd and his bus that would take him away were the last people that stubbornly refused to leave the theater.

If Floyd were being completely honest, he would have to admit that he hadn’t actually asked anyone to leave.  He knew that if it were he, a fellow movie nut, he would also want to stay through the end of the credits.  However Floyd was the one ushering tonight.  Floyd was the employee this time; not the movie buff.  He kept hoping that if he sent mental notes to the few guys left sitting in the theater that they would wondrously leave of their own accord.  As the credits for the soundtrack and locations scrolled by, Floyd realized that his powers of mind control were just not up to snuff.

Someone had to stand at the back of theater to make certain that everyone left and tonight that someone was Floyd.  He stood there, arms at their sides, nodding to each person as they left.  His role was that of a representative.  Floyd was not expected to smile or speak.  If he were to offer an occasional, “thanks for coming” it would be viewed by the common outsider as a nice thing to do.  Really though, Floyd was just a figurehead.  He was a reminder that yes, someone did work here, and that someone was probably going to have to clean up the bucket of popcorn that was kicked over twelve minutes into the movie.

A man briskly walked out of the theater.  He started to rush by, saw Floyd, and scurried over to him. 

“Bathroom?” 

“Up the walkway, to the left”, Floyd replied with a rehearsed simplicity.  He knew that any further directions would have been confusing.  And a man who had walked out of a three-hour movie did not have time to waste on details if he had a general direction to follow.

A small boy wandered out of the theater and found his dad.  His sleepy eyes widened as he looked at Floyd.  Floyd wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve the boy’s attention.  He hadn’t blinked, he hadn’t sneered; as far as Floyd knew he hadn’t even moved.  What reason could the boy have for taking notice of the non-descript usher?

The boy elbowed his father and looked down at Floyd’s feet.  The dad smiled.

“Are those shoes comfortable?”

“I think so”, Floyd replied.  “They do all right.”  Floyd still didn’t know what it was about his new shoes, but everyone felt inclined to comment on them.  Some folks had a pair just like them, only pink.  Some thought they looked space age-y.  Floyd had bought them because they were shoes, they looked comfortable, and they had been on sale.  He didn’t know why this stranger was asking, let alone why his son would care.

“They’re Salomons”, the man continued.  His tone implied more of a statement than a question.

“I think so”, Floyd said.  He honestly didn’t know, nor did he care.  He remembered the brand starting with an “S” and assumed this man knew better.

“My dad made those shoes”, the little boy beamed.

The smile on the boy’s face said it all.  It wasn’t specifically Floyd’s shoes that the boy cared about; it was the connection to his father.  He quickly took his dad’s hand and they scurried up the ramp.  The way the boy looked at his father made it all perfectly clear.

It didn’t matter what the boy’s father did for a living.  The man could have been a judge or he could have been a fisherman.  The head of the family could have sold beers at a stadium or been one of the players on the field.  Floyd knew instantly that the boy simply cared that someone was supporting his father’s work.  The boy had pride in his dad.  The smile that had popped out had said it all in one quick glance.  He was proud of his dad, and he loved him.  If he had to point at strangers’ feet to find an excuse to talk to people about how great his father was, then he would do it.  This was the man that took him to movies and worked hard to pay for their popcorn.  The son, as far as he was concerned, had the coolest dad one could hope for.

Floyd also smiled.  The affection the boy had on his face had infected Floyd.  He took it with him on the bus and carried it all the way to his home.  Even into the next day, Floyd kept thinking about the pair of movie-goers.  Any man that could inspire that much love in his son was a rather fine man indeed.

The Uncomfortable Seat

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Uncomfortable Seat

H32 was not having the greatest of days.  There hardly was a good day to be had when one was a theater seat, but today seemed especially vexing for H32.  This was the day that a four year-old had taken to jumping up and down on it while letting their chocolate bar smear over every available surface.  The smearing of sugar and milk products made H32 sneer.  People do not appreciate the amount of patience it takes to live a life of being sat on.  H32’s job wasn’t the most difficult, but it grew weary of the pressure that was laid on it hour after hour, day after day.

Tuesdays were the worst days.  Discount night at the theater brought out the cheapskates; those that felt they could put their legs up on the chair in front of them and treat seats as their own personal trash can.  H32 might have understood if they stopped at leaving their garbage in its cup holders, but it never stopped there.  If there was going to be gum stuck to the bottom of its seat, odds are it occurred on a Tuesday.  As a way of making things worse, patrons seemed to use their extra money to buy nachos.  Nachos with extra cheese.  The biological effects of the nachos ruined H32 for the rest of the night.  It fought to keep the stench from overwhelming its senses.  In the rare instances where the eater of complex foods did allow H32 to escape the silent killer, there was always the strong possibility that the cheese would end up smeared on what was once perfectly nice fabric.

H32 knew that other seats had it much worse.  There were seats in new theaters that were made to jostle and thrash themselves side to side so that their occupant could feel “entertained”.  The patron didn’t care how much the programmed movement nauseated and disoriented the seat.  Some chairs were kicked and kicked and kicked until they finally snapped in half; a jagged crack in the plastic scarred their spinal region.  H32 was in a somewhat comfortable theater.  The reckless crowd didn’t sit in his area.  They always seemed to prefer the back rows.  At least, that’s what Q thru X claimed every night after closing.  Any chair that resided in that area was guaranteed to smell of either cigarettes or alcohol several nights a week.  H32 didn’t take kindly to the toddlers that would stand on his seat while drooling on his back.  However it was a far better fate than being puked on or having a cigarette extinguished on its seat and feeling the dim ambers burn through its fibers and padding.

H32 had tried to get early retirement.  Of all the seats in the theater, H32 squeaked the loudest.  If the staff had cared as much as the rest of the chairs did, H32 would have been WD40ed long ago.  That was not the case.  The slackers, the partiers, and the under-age kids that got paid to loosely wear their polo shirts just wanted a paycheck and a free movie for them and their friends to watch.  The actual work held no interest for them.  They tore a sampling of tickets, let the popcorn gather like pennies in a piggy bank, and hurried their way through a quick clean at the end of the night so they could go on to something much more enjoyable.  These were not the people that made repairs; these were the people that smoked a few with their friends in row W.

H32 started to feel that it was time to take its game up a notch.  The only way it could escape would be to make its presence so intolerable that management would step in.  H32 was an aisle seat, how hard could it be to get kicked out?  It just wanted to be broken down and freed of this thankless task.  The spilled sodas, the keys and pointy belts poking at its once pristine fabric; the abuse was awful.

Then there was the kicking.  The endless kicking from antsy adults, obnoxious children, and elderly men with canes who wanted the folks in front of him to pipe down.  If one more person in row J took out their frustration on H32’s backside, it was outta here.  The pain would be severe, the infliction upon itself would be desperate, but H32 was ready for that drastic gambit.  If it came down to it, H32 would spring a few coils and poke anyone who tried to use him right in their rear.  Normally cushions were expected to soften a blow, but H32 was set to break that trend.

Avoiding Neverland

A teacher's reflections on preparing teens for life

Late~Night Ruminations

...for all the ramblings of my cluttered mind....

Short...but not always so sweet 💋

Life is a series of challenges ~Happy endings are not guaranteed

Running Away To Booktopia

Because let's face it, reality sucks most of the time.

guclucy5incz5hipz

Exploring my own creativity (and other people's) in the name of Education, Art and Spirituality. 'SquarEmzSpongeHat'. =~)

The Land of 10,000 Things

Charles Soule - writer.

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Blog

This blog, swallow you whole

bottledworder

easy reading is damn hard writing

s1ngal

S1NGLE living H1GH thinking

Listful Thinking

Listless: Lacking zest or vivacity

Kim Kircher

Strength from the Top of the Mountain

The Byronic Man

We can rebuild him. We have the technology... Drier. Hilariouser. More satirical than before.

The One Year Challenge

A one-year chronical of no flirting, no more dating and absolutely no sex.

Beth Amsbary

Workshop Leader, Storyteller, Grantwriter,