We arrived an hour early but still the line snaked out of the theater, past the ticket booth and down the hall.
"Why do we do this to ourselves?" I ask myself as I haul all 28 pounds of Ittybit up back up to midlevel, shifting her weight from one foot to another. "Oh, yeah a free movie we can leave as soon as she gets tired of sitting still."
I'm not proud of this fact, but one of the perks of working for a newspaper is the possibility of free entertainment. Oh sure, there's usually a small price. I've had to sit through countless musical productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Carousel, and spent hours trying to come up with reviews that were fair, honest and somewhat glowing when all I really wanted to do was muse maniacally about the possibilities of a Christ's Carousel. On the other hand, I've also seen dozens of stellar performances I'd never in a million years be able to afford on my own.
Of course, movies are a bit different. You may save some dough on the price of admission with the preview screening freebies but the popcorn and treats will still do some damage to the kid's college fund. I am reminded of this little fact as we s-l-o-w-l-y make our way past the concessions counter and Ittybit's eyes stay silently locked on the popcorn maker, willing it, I image, to pop on over to her side of the aisle and say 'hello.'
As we slowly inch toward the ticket taker, I nervously bite my lower lip, hoping we’ll get through and find three seats together. Ittybit has been talking about penguins since I showed her the movie pass for "Happy Feet" three days ago.
The line slows down to a crawl, and I mention that we might have to make other plans. Their may be no movie for us today.
She ignores me. Not even three yet, she has already pegged me as the alien being who obviously has no idea what life on Earth is all about. "Daddy will fix it."
When he hands over our tickets to the kid with the theater vest, I’m stunned there’s still room. "Over there; Theater 2," the kid directs with a flourish of his ticket-stuffed fist.
We climb up the near-vertical steps of the theater and find three seats in the last section in the middle. Ittybit settles into the seat between us and starts bouncing up and down.
"When is the MOOOOVIE starting?" she asks with the implied tone of the "Are We There Yet" game.
"Not for another hour," I grumble, getting out my trusty glue stick and ripping up that morning's junk mail so she can make a collage. It's a trick I've used successfully since she turned two, and it was working until three kids squeezed past us to their seats carrying monster tubs of popcorn.
"POPTORN? POPTORN!" she yells at highest threshold of indoor voice she can manage, remembering her mechanical friend from the lobby, and starts the dreaded chant: "I want poptorn, too. Pop torn, pop torn, pop torn, pop torn. … PEASE!!!!"
So I go off to get some non-buttery corn goodness as she sits and continues the art project with her dad. When I return 40 minutes later and $7 lighter, I barely get a chance to sit down when the plea comes for water. Ten minutes later and another $4 lighter, I'm back just in time to sit and watch the lights go down.
As the sound comes up, I realize that it's so loud I can’t hear the rhythmic munching to my left. Soon, however, I'm thinking partial hearing loss might be a worthy price for such splendid scenery: Icy blue water, amazing landscapes, and, of course, cute and fuzzy penguins.
Now I know as a parent I should be a little bit more vigilant about what my daughter watches. I noticed the movie was rated 'PG' and that the tickets mentioned that some language may be offensive, but I was willing to risk a little offensive language for cute and fuzzy penguins. After all, I'm one of THOSE types who feel that there are worse things in life than naughty words.
What I didn't realize, and was completely ill prepared for, was how completely horrifying it would be to watch an animated leopard seal attack the cute and fuzzy penguins. Circle of life or not, I had no idea something as lovable as a seal could transform into such a hideous looking creature.
Once the danger had passed and all was right in the movie again, Ittibit stood up and announced "I'm done here."
And with that we gathered our coats and bags, and washtub-sized container of popcorn and made our way down the stairs in the dark.
"Never fails," I grouse. "I'll have to wait for the video."
Until then I'll be picturing the hideous seal eating hapless penguins and dancing around in Joseph's Technicolor Dreamcoat.