Lunch Money


Where are you Emperor Ming?

It was a dark and stormy afternoon sooo---. No this is not the beginning of one of Snoopys’ famous novels. It really was a dark and stormy afternoon hear in Bellingham.

This morning I read an article in the Seattle PI about how we Americans were working to long and hard and relaxing to little. Believe it or not I related to a lot of what the article had to say. I currently have over one thousand sick leave hours on the books with my employer and three hundred sixty vacation hours. I am really looking forward to the seventeen day visit I am going to make to Sydney to be with my daughter AJ (aka webmonkey) this December. This will be the longest contiguous time off I have had in about fifteen years. So of course, by mid day I found myself thinking, as usual, about what I needed to get done that day. Then it stuck me, duh, "you just read an article about taking time to play and relax". Is this what you are going to do with today. Try to "accomplish" something.

When I was growing up in Southern California, a rainy weekend afternoon was the perfect day to head off the a matinee, catch the show, eat junk food and generally have a fun afternoon at the theater. The show would usually start with a Buck Rogers, Lash LaRue, Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy or some other serial or two, at least two or three cartoons, previews of coming attraction’s and of course a main show targeted at the young audience. If we were lucky it would be an Ed Wood horror movie or a classic cowboy good verses evil flick or an Abbot and Costello comedy or one of the many other Saturday afternoon fodder movies produced by Hollywood in the late fifties and early sixties. Not once do I ever remember thinking that those Saturday afternoons were time wasted and unproductive.

Armed with my new self awareness, I headed off in the rain and cold to the local theater. The first thing that struck me other than the cost of the movie , small Coke and small popcorn equaled what I once paid for a good used Schwinn bike, was the absence of people. Granted it was a multi-screen theater so that thinned the crowed in each one a bit. But as the lights dimmed in a room built to hold about one hundred sat about twenty people equally dispersed throughout the seats. A far cry from the noisy chaos of the almost full theaters that I attended when I was a lad. There were no ushers with flashlights ordering us to take our feet off the back of the seats in front of us. There were no pubescent couples in the back row more interested in physically exploring each others anatomy than any image that might be on the screen. There was no cheering, whistling, talking, popcorn box throwing, coke spilling, running up and down the aisles, or any of the "fun" stuff that happened on the Saturday afternoons past. In fact, it was really quite sterile.

The lights dimmed and we were treated to a short series of commercials for things I have blocked out, about one half hour of previews and finally the main feature. I watched Bill Murry in " Lost in Translation" which could be the subject of another posting, but not this one. The movie ended and we were reminded to pick up our trash as we left.

I do not regret spending the afternoon at the movie theater. It was truly the right thing to do with this cold rainy Fall afternoon. The movie was OK and as I said, possibly the subject of another posting. I have become accustomed to the sticker shock of theater tickets and junk food so can accept that as the price of admission, literally. I am old enough to know that I would not enjoy the chaos of the past though I would someday like to spend the afternoon in the back row "physically exploring each others anatomy" with some sweet thing. Something I never experienced first hand in my youth.

But I really, really did miss the action serials and cartoons.