TAMPA, August 30, 2012 - Mom and Dad don’t go to the movies too often. They prefer to watch whatever my brother recommends from the comfort of their Barcaloungers.
Why don’t they watch what I recommend? One word: Borat. My dad still isn’t the same.
There are several reasons why they don’t like watching movies in public.
Dad could do without all the talking and texting from other moviegoers. At home, he likes the remote so he can pause movies when he has to use the bathroom or refill his drink.
“You don’t get that at Regal,” he barked. “Here, at least, when your mother starts a conversation right in the damn middle of a murder scene, I can hit the rewind button.”
Mom doesn’t mind watching a movie in public, but she does miss the subtitles.
“But you don’t watch foreign films,” I said. “Why do you need subtitles?”
“What did you say?” she asked.
Yet, my parents recently put these annoyances aside to see a new release in a real-live movie theater. With popcorn and everything.
They arrived early, plenty of time to argue over a parking space. Walking through the parking lot, Mom stopped and made a face. Dad stopped too.
“Did you leave the iron plugged in?” Dad asked.
“No,” Mom said. “What theater are we at?”
“We’re supposed to be at Westshore.”
Dad sighed and shook his head. “That’s over near downtown!”
My mother turned and made her way back to the car. “We better get going then!”
Dad suggested they take the Expressway. “It’ll save time.”
Dad regularly ignores their GPS. I think it’s because the lady sounds a lot like my mom.
So they hauled it down the highway (read: 55 MPH) and weren’t prepared for the sudden appearance of a tollbooth. Why would they be prepared? Giant, forest-green signs only announce the upcoming tollbooths from two miles, one mile, and a quarter mile away.
Mom pulled into the middle lane and rolled her window down. She took out a twenty-dollar bill and handed it to the lady in the booth.
“What are you doing?” Dad asked.
“I’m giving the lady some money so we can get on with our day.”
Mom looked at the booth. No one was there. Just a basket with a blinking sign asking for exact change.
Mom looked for change. Dad noticed a line of traffic behind them. He started to curse, which made Mom want to curse. They couldn’t find any change.
“You have to be the only couple over 65 in the entire state of Florida that doesn’t have a change cup filled with dimes, quarters, and nickels sitting where your coffee cup should be,” I said, when I heard the story. “What’s wrong with you people?”
Dad was about to have a heart attack. He pulled a dollar bill out of his wallet. “Throw that in!”
“There’s no place for dollar bills,” my mother said like she’s reading the obituaries. “Only coins.”
Mom has an eerily calm demeanor in most crises. Growing up, my siblings and I were always convinced that if she ever had to wake us in the middle of the night due to an emergency, she’d simply sit on the bed, tap our legs, and whisper, “Grab your things, kids. The house is burning to the ground.”
I found this entire scene a bit hard to believe.
“In your trunk alone,” I said, “there are five winter coats, three “C” batteries, every Newsweek magazine from 1992 to today, and five books of matches. You’re telling me that you can’t find 3 quarters anywhere?”
Mom finally took a deep breath, got out of her car, and stuck that dollar bill inside the coin net. Then she got back in the car and drove off.
To this day, she is convinced that the police are going to show up at her house and arrest her for driving off without paying exact change.
And did I mention they still made it to the movie on time?
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