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Just Another Day At The Movies MAG
It happened when the street corner saxophone player hit the note G. The fat lady at the beginning of the line suddenly slid with one magnanimous thud into a mud puddle at the exact stroke of the songman's huge exhalation of music. It happened with such cadence, almost as if the whole act had been rehearsed on stage and orchestrated in perfect sync. It was almost as if it came right out of a movie...
From then on in everything that happened on that day just went downhill, including the fat lady, who continued to roll down Seventh Avenue on that rain-infested strip of New York City. The city was divided into two colors on that dreary Saturday afternoon - gray or grayer. The only diversion from that monotonous tone were the gold lights that took turns flickering on and off above the awning of the movie theater, in the same way that dominoes took turns falling down. The movie that they were showing wasn't even very good, but what else are you going to do when you're twelve, jobless, licenseless, and hopelessly in love with a sixteen-year-old usher at Circle Cinema?
So, there I was in line, just missing the protection of the red and white striped awning by one person in front of me, and feeling like the Wicked Witch of the West as I began to melt from all that rain. Oh, I think I've forgotten to mention that my little brother was melting in line with me. Yea, I definitely forgot. He's not exactly worth mentioning.
"We're going to miss the beginning and I have to go to the bathrooooom!"
Aren't brothers great!
"Shut up," I said as I gently elbowed his side and clawed his back.
"Ouch! O.K. O.K. You didn't have to hurt me." He squished his face into a nasty scowl.
"Of course I didn't have to. That's the beauty of free will." The love for my country was always something I deeply cherished.
Finally, we reached the front of the ticket line, and just as I began to pull two soggy, wet bills from my pockets, it happened. It always does. It always happens just when you've spent twenty minutes in line for a movie you've already seen twice (and wasn't even that great the first time), absorbing the rain like a thick, soft sponge, with your obnoxious younger brother in tow, just so you can enjoy some cheap form of escapism on one of the most depressing and damp and cold and rainy days of the entire year!
"We're sorry, but the one forty-five showing of . . ." That was all I needed to hear. From then on in the usher's words were as silent as Marcel Marceau, and my blood was pumping through my body in raging, whirling motions. My heart was stabbed by an emotion impossible to define by verbal means, but by only sounds and gestures that were mixtures of grunts and kicks and moans and heavy breathing. And I was sure that part of it must have been sadness, because I felt like crying.
I solemnly left the ticket counter and sat down on an overturned garbage can nearby. My brother followed. There was no more room on the can for him so he sat down on the sidewalk in front of me, looking straight up into my eyes with that gentle understanding younger brothers sometimes surprise you with. He looked so innocent, his brown hair stuck to his cherry red cheeks and his yellow rain slicker scintillating and glossy with tiny bubbles of water. I really liked him then. O.K., I might have even kind of loved him. The poor kid. Maybe I shouldn't have hit him so hard back there in line. Maybe God was punishing me for hitting him and that's why the movie was sold out.
"Hey, Nick, sit on my lap here with me. You'll get all dirty down there. Mom'll get mad." Like a spring in a mattress, he bounced right up and snuggled between my knees.
We should have gone to call my mom to come and pick us up, but we didn't. We didn't because we were lucky. We didn't because there are just some times in life when even a stupid action such as sitting soaking wet in the middle of a rainstorm all alone in the middle of a city not exactly known for its safety has its redeeming qualities. This was one of those times. . .
"Maybe we can go see another movie," Nick soothingly suggested.
"Nah. They've all started already. I'll just go call Mom."
"Only the coming attractions. We could still catch the beginning of the movie." He wanted to help me feel better. I could see that.
"That's O.K., Nick. You heard the lady. The movie's all sold out. I don't feel like seeing another one anyway."
"Well, we could see the one you want to." Did he have something up that seven-inch sleeve of his? "The exit door is open over there." He pointed to the backside of the theater. "Let's just sneak in."
"No way, Nicky. That'd be like stealing. Besides there aren't any seats left if it's sold out. I don't feel like sitting on the floor anyway. I'm calling Mom. We'll go out to lunch or something. O.K.?"
"Fine." I could see his disappointment. The whole town looked disappointed. Even the sky was crying. Why do you think it was raining so much?
But just then it happened. It happened because sometimes good things like that just happen. Just as bad things happen when you don't want them to, sometimes good things happen when you do.
"Anybody need two tickets?" This time I heard the words. They were coming from a man about my father's age, holding the hand (or at least trying to) of a screaming, kicking baby. Was the movie that bad? "Anyone?"
I looked around. Everyone else who stood in line with us had already left. It was just Nick and me. I went up to the man and without me even having to ask any questions, he shoved two movie tickets into my clammy hands and quickly said, "She's just cranky. I'm taking her home."
And like a guardian angel, he left from whence he came. I didn't even take time to think. I just grabbed Nick by the hand, kissed his tiny blue lips, and we ran like deer out of the rainy, cold day and into the magical world of concession stands and popcorn buckets. We rushed into the theater and sunk ourselves deep into the last two remaining seats in the theater. We shed our raingear, took off our shoes and socks to let dry, and closed our eyes to adjust them to the dark. And when we opened them we weren't in New York anymore. We were in Hollywood.n