I wasn’t sure I was going to have any rant fuel for this month’s issue. I haven’t been feeling as ranty lately and thought that perhaps, through some bizarre twist in the Universe, I was developing a higher level of compassion for my fellow humans. Maybe I was starting to acknowledge that we’re all doing the best we can with where we are at right now. A little belief creeping in that everyone we encounter is at a different evolutionary place and we need to meet them where they are at, at this moment. Maybe all that Oprah was finally affecting me. Nah. Turns out, I’ve been hanging out at home a bit lately and just haven’t been around people enough. Because this last weekend, as I ventured out among them, it was made clear to me that no, everyone isn’t just doing the best they can with the tools they have; some people never bother to even pick up their tools.
And it goes a little like this…
My husband and I, after much conversation, contemplation and reading of online parenting movie review sites (that all reflects our occasionally ridiculous approach to parenting) determined that our fifth grader was ready to see The Avengers, his first PG-13 experience in the theater (likely tying into this decision was my deep desire to see the movie on the big screen before it slipped into the churn of DVD/Blu-ray/Netflix). As it turned out, his younger sister had a play date during the matinee hours leaving the three of us available for movie time and free childcare. Stars in alignment. Check. We were off to see the movie.
Let’s be real for a moment: since the children arrived in our house, our ability to indulge in our shared love of comic book movies on the big screen as a couple has been seriously thwarted. Sure, we’ve seen the Chipmunk movies and that Smurf thing (honestly, if NPH can’t save your movie, you are in a shitstorm of trouble, I need to put that out there) at the theater, because seeing those things on the big screen somehow overwhelms my senses and tempers my desire to claw my eyes out as I gasp “a plot…a plot…my kingdom for a cohesive plot…,” but movies for just the husband and me have been lacking. Our commitment to seeing more quality cinema (go ahead and judge for yourself what “quality” means) was reenergized after a trip to the beach without the kids where the weather was crappy and we ended up watching movies, including Captain America. This led to our thoughtful discussion about whether the fifth grader was ready. We determined he was, no selfish motive present.
We ended up going to the fancy theater in town. It’s got bigger seats and more legroom and better 3D technology and superior snacks. We were pulling out all the stops for my son’s initiation into the tribe. After the play date drop off, we arrived a little late and ended up grabbing the last three seats together that weren’t in the front row. Husband on the aisle, then my son, then me. We wanted to flank the newcomer to better gauge his reactions and enjoyment of the movie. Yes, we are totally those parents. And on the other side of me is a family of three, with me seated next to the Dad. How is this detail important to my story, you might ask? I’m getting to that.
In said family to my left, Mom is sitting next to Dad and there is Daughter, about 13, on the other side of Mom. All seems good; I’m so pleased to be seeing this movie in a timely manner on the big screen. At about the point in the movie where Loki is taken aboard the flying ship, I notice, out of the corner of my eye, a motion. I peek out under my 3D glasses to observe that Mom is slowly and with intent, rubbing her hand along Dad’s inner thigh. Upper inner thigh. You get my point here, don’t you? In a crowded theater, with Daughter in attendance, Mom decides it’s a good time and place to get some sparks started with Dad. What the hell? Did I mention the theater is crowded? It’s a comic book movie, for chritssakes.
Now I’m distracted from the movie, about to miss some Robert Downey Jr. bon mots which exponentially increases how pissed I am. And, I’m wondering what am I supposed to do here? Doesn’t PG-13 refer to the movie and not the audience? Is there a polite way to request that your movie neighbor stop rubbing her date’s thigh? If I get up and get the usher, I’m sure they will cool it before I return. Do I really need the experience of reporting this activity? Are they technically breaking any laws? Probably not. All this rushes through my head while I adjust my body by leaning forward to further impede any view my son would have of the goings on. And I curse these people for their need to physically express their attraction to each other at this moment in this theater.
The stroking continues. My awkward leaning stance continues. It’s like I’m trying to not miss a word. Like the volume isn’t at 11. I make a deal with myself. If the popcorn tub gets moved to what I deem a strategic location, I am out of the seat and off to the usher. And I continue to wonder can I confront them without making a scene? Will I ever be able to concentrate on the movie again? Finally, Mom leans over and whispers loudly in Dad’s ear; I see this slight interruption as my chance and very deliberately, turn around to look at both of them in the face. Not in the eye because we are all wearing 3D glasses. But in the face and pause a little bit longer than is comfortable and attempt to stare them down through my glasses. Then I slowly turn back to the movie. It works. Mom retracts the stroking arm and the popcorn tub remains in a safe location. My work done, I lean back into the chair again. Relived that my son’s introduction to PG-13 was limited to the action depicted on the screen.
I ponder the fact that I was totally comfortable giving them “the look” when they were talking during the movie, but was feeling completely helpless about how to approach the stroking breach of etiquette. I realize then that there had been no enhanced compassion toward my fellow man over the last couple weeks, just less exposure.