AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: Loose Ends DATE: 11/17/2004 02:39:00 PM ----- BODY:
A couple of stories I forgot to tell from this past weekend... Friday night Stephen and I had an actual date, as in dinner and a movie, which was strange and unfamiliar, but cool nonetheless. We went to Bertucci's, where I happily vacuumed in as much Death by Carbohydrates as I could, and then we waddled our way over to the theater to see The Incredibles. (I'll review the movie itself on the bookblog soon). The movie was fine, but the truly interesting entertainment of the night actually came before it started. As we were sitting in our seats eating most of our snacks before the previews had even begun, peering at the out-of-focus and, at times, upside-down advertising and movie trivia slides on the screen, grooving to the smooth mix of Sade and Avril Lavigne being piped in over the theater sound system, a family of five came to sit down right behind us. A mom, a dad, three little kids, a family Jerry Falwell would be proud of (well, except the fact that the parents were an interracial couple, but hey! At least they weren't gay! Right?). In this family, though, the rod had obviously been spared. The oldest child looked to be about four or five. The middle, three or so. The youngest was barely a toddler. Now, as a childless woman (is that like being a flightless bird?), far be it from me to lecture anyone about their parenting decisions, but isn't approximately 18-20 months a little too young to be brought to a 9 pm showing of a movie? Although, hey, I've seen worse when I worked at that very theater. Infants in carrier seats being brought into midnight shows of The Faculty or the latest Jean-Claude van Damme. Toddlers being slung along to a late-night showing of Minority Report. And just because I really just can't resist pointing this out (although I will do my best to stop the harangue from now on): the parents? Heterosexual. The families? Nuclear. The Family Values? Nowhere to be seen. The whole age issue is moot, though, anyway, because it was the oldest kid that was the worst. While his siblings were squirmy, this child was simply a piece of work. While his mother scolded him unheeded, he began his performance for the night by alternately digging out greasy, crumbling handfuls of popcorn from the extra-large bag (roughly the size of his torso) he clutched on his lap, and dropping said bag, once with a spectacular spray all over Steve, who reacted with that "blink-blink-blink..." look that just makes any situation funnier. Unfazed, the child simply reached down toward the floor to start picking up the spilled popcorn. Some of it he put back in the bag. Some of it he put in his mouth. Remember, I once worked at this theater. I know exactly what's on that floor and what has been on it in the past. The sight of this made me gag. Seeming to answer my disgust, the kid commented favorably on his dusty snack with a surprisingly large, appreciative belch, directly into Steve's ear. Mom, for her part, didn't notice until the kid had gotten a few nice gritty handfuls of the popcorn (she was busy wrangling the other two squirmy siblings). But when she did realize it, there was holy hell to pay. Screaming at the child at the top of her lungs, as well as at the child's hapless father, she yanked the bag away. The father, meanwhile, uttered a few words of protest. Little by little, as the mom yelled and the dad muttered, the child's face crumpled into a scowl, and then, opening his tiny mouth wide, he emitted an eardrum-shattering squeal, and proceeded to throw a full-fledged tantrum, complete with a barrage of kicks into the back of Steve's seat. Poor Steve. He and I exchanged looks, and then got up and moved to the other side of the theater. But it wasn't far enough, as the screeching, squirming, bag-dropping family circus continued throughout the movie. Much of the movie, luckily, was loud and boisterous, but the rare quiet scene was pretty much ruined. Finally, having had enough, a man in the row behind our new seats barked, "If you carn't make ya kids behave, ya shouldna takenem to a movie." His comment was met with expressions of agreement from elsewhere in the theater, and a rude response from Mom, who obviously wasn't going to take such a message to heart, or else she would have left a long time ago, or at least said "sorry," when her kid spilled popcorn in my boyfriend's lap, belched in his ear, and all but kicked him in the head. Like I said, I've seen worse. Like the time a great big construction-worker type in a ratty sweatshirt and paint-splattered jeans and fawn-colored work boots reached back and absolutely slapped his approximately six-year-old child silly in the middle of the theater lobby for no discernible reason. The kid went down like a sack of bricks, so mighty was this open-handed smack upside his face, and his father kept walking, leaving the child to collect himself alone on the filthy carpet. By those standards, these parents were nominees for the Nobel Prize in Parenting. But seriously. It's not life and death, but would it kill some people not to spew their own lack of civility, and that which has been passed on to their children, all over everyone in a given area? If your kid is too young or not capable of behaving in a public place, as his parent you should a) know this and b) not take him there. Even if it's a kid's movie. It being a kid's movie doesn't mean it's a nice little playroom for your kid when you don't feel like entertaining him yourself. I swear, there were other kids around this kid's age in the theater, and I even caught some of them rolling their eyes at this family. Bah.
***
Kim's birthday was on Saturday night. It was fairly low-key, but a good time; just before we left, a political discussion erupted, which was pretty interesting since we had one observant Jew who recently returned from Israel and thus could comment on Israeli politics and their effect on the most recent American election, three lesbians, two of whom would like to get married to each other, and several points of view ranging from the radical to the moderate. It was a lively discussion, enlightening in some instances, frustrating in others, but all I could really think as we left to pick our way through the icy streets of Brookline was, Oh, my God. We've reached the age where we discuss politics at parties.
***
Then there was our ride home from Kim and Cory's. After traversing Kenmore Square, we pulled up behind a little red shitbox waiting to take the left-hand turn onto Storrow Drive. I swear, that's all that happened. We pulled up behind the shitbox, blinker on, left turn, Storrow Drive, end of story. And yet down went the window, and out came a pale masculine hand, and it started flapping about in a strange kind of sign language, and I was thinking, does he want us to go around him? Is he broken down? The light changed, and the shitbox leapt forward. Okay...not broken down... And here came the hand again, and this time, held proudly aloft was the middle finger of said hand. Is he...who is he even flicking off? I couldn't even be pissed about it. It simply made no sense whatsoever. We got to the next light, the one right before the merge onto Storrow Drive, and the kid screeched to a halt (he was kind of doing the floor-the-accelerator / slam-on-the-brakes style of stop-and-go driving, and wow, that was WAY too many hyphens), this time leaned his head out the window, turned around, glared into my headlights, and brandished his middle finger again. He was clearly staring into the depths of my windshield (although it was doubtful he'd even seen my face given that my headlights were on), and the finger was clearly intended for me. Maybe he's high, I thought, and a brief observation of his driving once on the open roadway of Storrow Drive confirmed that suspicion. Go home, kid, you're fuckin' high, I thought dismissively. Try not to kill anyone on the way there. Flash forward to the Tobin Bridge. Traffic is stopped, and by that I mean stopped, as in, put the car in park, light a butt and crank the CD stopped. For at least fifteen minutes. Up ahead enough blue lights are flashing on the highway just after the Zakim bridge to clearly indicate that there has been an accident, and a nasty one at that. Eventually, a flatbed wrecker with yellow lights flashing and horn blaring comes bombing up the left breakdown lane. Most people oblige and move aside, although a few do that lame-ass thing where they turn the wheels to the right but don't actually move and then sit there with the tow truck honking at them and the driver leaning out his window swearing a blue streak at them like, "what?" Soon after the tow truck finally got through, another car came careening through the traffic, flooring the accelerator and then stomping on the brakes, scattering other cars like pigeons. Eventually--just my luck--this car ended up right next to me in the next lane over. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that the car was red. A red shitbox, to be precise. Of course it was the same car. Of course. I couldn't help it. I looked. The kid flicked me off.
--------