When I was in first grade, my father took me to a baseball game for my birthday. By all appearances, it looked like a Hallmark commercial. But, as my father likes to say, I didn’t last more than two innings before having finished my hotdog and soda, I begged to be taken home. My father, taking compassion upon me, left the game with me in tow and as we pushed past strangers on our way out of the stadium, my father says two men looked at him with pity and said: “next time, bring your son instead.”
And that brings me to tonight’s blog. I sometimes watch my friends’ three-year-old daughter whom I’ve known for about a year. We have what I would say is a decent relationship, as good as one can have with a three-year-old, and when I saw that Beauty and the Beast was being remarketed as a 3D movie, I thought perhaps she would be an ideal companion for this outing. Yes, I sincerely wanted to go myself, but thought perhaps the magic would be renewed in my own heart seeing it through the eyes of a child. My intentions were good.
I picked Lila up at 6:15, this gave us more than enough time to make 6:45 showing and acquire the necessary snacks that make the childhood movie-going experience. I myself have many happy memories of sneaking Chinese chicken into theaters for my father, but that is a story for another time. We got our 3D glasses and little popcorn and drink combo boxes. We then made our way into the theater with me balancing both snack boxes in my arms while trying to get the door. The theater was empty, which I found odd. We attempted to settle in to a seat, but I discovered quickly that Lila was actually too light to keep the seat from folding up with her in it, a discovery that was terrifying to her. To preempt the tears which I could see coming, I set the down the snack boxes and picked her out of the folding seat and set her down, assuring her she could enjoy the movie seated on my lap, which calmed her down. It was then that one of the snack boxes tipped over and spilled popcorn and soda all over the seat. Noticing the popcorn but not the soda, I grabbed Lila and sat down on a pile of ice. Although disappointed, I was determined not to let this ruin our movie-going experience. This was about the time I realized something else was not right.
I had not seen Beauty and the Beast in quite a few years, but I was fairly certain that the movie did not begin with the sentimental dance in the yellow dress and spruced up beast to the song sung by the Angela Lansbury-tea pot. Checking the time, I realized that somehow, we’d ended up in the 5:20 showing rather than the intended 6:45. Feeling rather like I wanted something to go right tonight, I went back out to the ticket counter and explained the mix-up to the cashier, who said, confused: “There is no 6:45, just a 5:20 and 7:45.” It was now my turn to be confused, and glancing from the cashier to the theater to Lila who was picking popcorn kernals from the surviving snack box, I thought, “Well, she’s three years old. Does she really grasp the concept of this? We could watch this movie until the end and go home and she’d probably be fine.” The cashier asked if I wanted to stay in the theater to catch the beginning of the next showing, and I thought this a good compromise.
By the time we returned to the theater and repositioned ourselves comfortably in the empty theater with Lila’s popcorn and drink, and this was about the time that the customary semi-violent climactic scene was taking place. As the muscly Gaston approached the despondent beast with a knife and a blazing torch, Lila became understandably disturbed. My assurances that it would all be over soon did no good, and soon I had a crying little girl in an empty theater next to spilled popcorn and soda in a movie we’d walked in to twenty minutes from the resolution.
“Let’s go outside while it’s scary.” I urged, and we took the popcorn outside and watched amusing iPhone videos as I listened to hear that the violent scene was ending. Lila was happily eating popcorn watching videos at this point, and was not game for my suggestion that we “go back in and watch as they all become humans again.” She was probably not game because she had no idea the furniture was even under any kind of spell, and looked up at me and said “Can we go home now?” I reflected upon the evening, upon whether or not this was about me or her, and knowing the answer nodded my head that yes, we were indeed going home. And it was then that out of the mouth of a babe came wisdom as Lila chirped:
“I’m too tiny for this.”
“Tiny?” I responded, “Perhaps, but I think it is more that Rachel was too ambitious.” She giggled at this, and told me she liked dolphins.
I returned to the ticket counter feeling the cold wetness of my soda-soaked jeans and Lila’s now clammy hand in my own.
“Is everything ok, Miss?” The cashier asked.
“You know what the problem is with the 5:20 show?” I began, which was probably already more than he wanted to know “It means that this kid has to watch a climactic fight scene with no emotional attachment to the characters to cushion the conflict.” The cashier looked at me blankly.
“She’s scared out of her mind.” I offered, trying to quell the English teacher within.
“Would you like to stay for the 7:45?” He asked.
“No, I think a refund is the way to go.” I said, to which he aptly complied. When he asked if there was anything else he could do for me, anything at all, I turned around and said
“Sir, when I was six years old, I begged my dad to take me home from a baseball game two innings into it. So I’m pretty sure that I just got what was coming to me twenty years later.”
He laughed. Lila told me once again that she liked dolphins.
It was a great night.