Recommendations for Moviegoers

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Last night, I attended an opening day showing of the film Les Miserables.  Upon reflection of my experience last night, I have a few recommendations for moviegoers, especially if you plan to see Les Mis.  (If for no other reason than to discourage certain actions in the future so that I don’t have to kick any of you in the throat.)

1.  Know the length of the movie you plan to see and make all necessary preparations:  purchase all concessions and visit the restroom before the movie starts.  This will prevent the need to get up, move around, and stomp along 40 feet of concrete three times (woman in the noisy heels, you know I am speaking directly to you!) during the film.  If you do not believe that you can sit for two hours forty-eight minutes without getting up and disturbing everyone around you while Eponine or Fantine or Gravoche or nearly everyone at the barricade dies, wait to see the movie until the DVD release.  You can watch the movie in segments in the comfort of your own living room.  Consider yourself warned, though.  I will be in the corner of the room banging a mallet on concrete.  Payback is hell.

2.  Learn the style and genre of the film before buying a ticket.  Les Miserables, for example, is a musical and nearly every piece of dialogue is sung.  If two hours forty-eight minutes of singing is going to bore you and you fear that you will need to play with your phone, play with toys (I have no idea why any parent would bring an 11-year-old boy to Les Mis), talk or constantly feel the need to walk around, choose a different movie.

3.  If you are not a fan of the work, don’t go to Opening Day of that movie.  As my husband put it while driving home last night, he will let all the fanatics dressed as Bilbo Baggins see The Hobbit first.  It’s more important to the fanatics.  Let the fanatics have their joyful, obsession-filled moment.  Jay will see The Hobbit later, after the fanatics have had their fill, just in case it sucks and he needs to laugh or leave.

4.  This next plea is directed specifically to the 16-year-old twit sitting with her mother and far too close to me.  If you leave the theater and come back 10 minutes later, you don’t get to ask, “What did I miss?”  And shame on your mother for answering you every time!  Also, I applaud you for trying to broaden your cultural horizons by watching Les Mis, but perhaps you are too stupid to understand the story.  I would suggest picking up the Cliff’s Notes version of whatever famous-novel-turned-movie you decide to see next.  I assume your entire literary education has been in Cliff’s Notes form so you should be familiar with the format.  And, in case you think I am being too harsh and exaggerating your stupidity, below is a list of questions I overheard you asking your mother, who, by the way, was not smart enough to answer you:

Question #1:  “What’s wrong with her?”  You asked this while Fantine was dying.  She lay in a hospital bed, looked like hell, and saw the hallucination of her daughter.  She was dying!

Question #2:  “What are they doing?”  You asked this while the Thenardier’s were robbing their customers during Master of the House.  The Innkeeper and his wife were singing about ripping off their customers while robbing them blind for the audience to clearly see.  You are really starting to get on my nerves.

Question #3:  “Eeww, what’s wrong with them?”  You asked this during a sweeping camera shot of the poor and depraved on the streets of Paris.  Well, the people appear to be dirty, starving, and covered in festering sores.  That’s what’s wrong with them.  That’s what poverty in 1832 in Paris looked like.

Question #542:  “What?  Is he sick or something?”  You asked this at the beginning of the finale after Jean Valjean had collapsed and was hunched over in a chair, wrapped in a blanket, looking like death warmed over.  The ghost of Fantine appeared beside him and sang, “Take my hand.  I’ll lead you to salvation.”  He’s dying, you little twit!  I am starting to think you are just messing with me.  No one is this stupid!

5.  My final recommendation to moviegoers is simple.   If you are dead inside, do not buy a ticket for Les Miserables.  The couple sitting in front of me with their teenage daughter made this mistake.  They bought their tickets and snacks and then sat through two hours forty-eight minutes of what was apparently a laughable experience for them even though they are clearly dead inside.  They laughed when Eponine died.  They laughed when Gavroche (a child!) died.  They laughed at nearly everything Hugh Jackman did as Jean Valjean, including when he died!  After the movie was over, the father turned to his wife and daughter and proclaimed, “Thank God that’s over!”  He could have saved himself $50 (estimated price of three tickets plus snacks) and the misery of sitting through the most beautiful musical ever written had he been aware that he has no soul and is therefore incapable of appreciating such a wonderfully tragic story.

This morning, as I laid in my comfy bed rather than a jail cell charged with assault, I thanked God for granting me patience last night.  As much as I would have liked to wrap my hands around that man’s throat until he admitted that he was dead inside and had no business encroaching on my Les Mis experience, I didn’t.   That level of self-control and restraint could only be provided through Divine Intervention, so thank you, Jesus.  I apologize for making you work so hard on your birthday.

In all seriousness, watch Les Miserables.  I think the world needs Les Mis.  It is a story of redemption; the story of a man dedicating his life to doing good in order to repay his debt to God.  It is a story of love:  love of country, love of humanity, love of family, love of God.  Even with a few strange choices made by the director, I encourage all of you to see the film version of Les Mis, but only if you follow the recommendations made here.  Maybe if we all saw it, we would all believe that we should only do what is good and that compassion is a gift from God that should never be squandered, ridiculed, or ignored.

And remember, the truth that once was spoken:

To love another person is to see the face of God

            —Finale, Les Miserables

Bullies, Gazelles & Last Minute Errands

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I have been struggling all week to write something worthy of posting.  Until today, I have felt terribly uninspired.  But today I received an early Christmas present from the writing gods.  So, to the woman featured in this post, thank you.  You gave me exactly what I needed.  (By the way, I am listening to the Pistol Annie’s while writing this.  Yep, it’s been that kind of day!)

Let me set the scene for you:

This afternoon, I ran by CVS.  I selected my one item and then walked to the front of the store and stood next to the sign that read Wait here for the next available register.  To my immediate left was a round table full of last minute holiday treats.  As I waited for the customer ahead of me to pay for her photos, a woman crossed behind me with a full cart and three pre-teen boys in tow.  She planted herself on the other side of the round table, parallel to me in front of the cashiers.  From the second I saw her; I knew what she was.  She was a line-jumper.

She was snarky from head to toe.  Sneer on her face, tight t-shirt, pajama bottoms, and slippers, or “house shoes” as we call them in the South.  Yes, that was the outfit she chose to be in public wearing.  She also decided against wearing a bra.  (That fact was considerably unfortunate due to how heavily God blessed her in the boob department.)  From the looks on the boys’ faces, I could see that her nasty attitude was a family trait.  I took one look at her and knew what was about to happen.

“Am I next in line?” the woman asked and gave me “the look.”  You know the look.  It was the same look the lioness gives the weak gazelle right before she strikes.

“No, ma’am.  I am.”  The words politely came out of my mouth before I could stop them or reconsider.

“I think I was next,” batted back the woman.  She expected me to cave, to cower to her bullying expression and aggressive posture.

“No.”  With that, I looked straight ahead and waited for what felt like an eternity for the woman ahead of me to finish her transaction.  On the outside, I appeared strong and confident, but inside I was praying that the snarky woman wouldn’t hit me.  I was also secretly doing the Snoopy dance because I had stood up to her so calmly.

The snarky lady then preceded to engage the other customers standing behind me (and behind the Wait here for the next available register sign) with comments such as “I guess ya’ll think your ahead of me, too” and “I don’t know why she thinks she’s first.”

As I waited, I considered letting her go ahead of me.  I considered being the bigger person just to keep the peace.  (It is the Holiday Season, after all.)  Typically, I do what is considered nice, but every time I do, a little piece of me dies.  Every time I allow a self-entitled bully to have her way in CVS or Wal-Mart or wherever, I feel a little smaller.  Today, I didn’t want to feel defeated.  Today, I was no weak gazelle.  I silently stood my ground, quickly paid for my one item, and then got out of the store as quickly as possible.  (I’m no weak gazelle, but I’m also not an idiot.)

So, now, let’s take a poll.  In the comment section below, please tell me how you would have reacted to this situation.  Would you have been nice and allowed her to go ahead of you?  Keep in mind that this woman had a full cart and probably coupons.  Or would you have stood your ground and risked her wrath?  Keep in mind also that, from the looks of her, she could throw quite a nasty right hook.

I look forward to hearing from all of you and hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Holiday Season!

Road Tripping: Wonderment & Rage

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My recent mission:  drive 500 miles from my current residence to see my family in Alabama for Thanksgiving without losing my mind or wrecking my car.

The challenge:  The world is full of idiots and freaks.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s proof:

Soon after I merged onto I-20 in South Carolina, traffic nearly came to a standstill.  Crawling at 30 miles an hour, I found myself weaving in and out of Christmas trees scattered on the highway.  My first thought when I saw the trees was, “Oh great, along with being squished between two semi trucks, being blown off a bridge (I am terrified of tall bridges), hydroplaning during a blinding rain, and having another golf club fly out of the back of a pickup and take out my front tire (yes, that happened on I-65 in 2002), now I have to worry about flying Christmas trees!”  Then, I witnessed possibly the dumbest behavior I ever seen.  Cars were actually pulled over and waiting for daring passengers to dart into the highway to steal a tree.  Really?  My prediction for a Christmas blessing somewhere in South Carolina:  “Happy Birthday, Jesus!  Thank you, Lord, for all you have given us.  We pray for world peace and for Tiny Tim to recover from the injuries he sustained while stealing our Christmas tree on I-20.  We thought surely he could move faster than he did.  That black SUV seemed to come out of nowhere!  Amen and pass the gravy.”

Later in my journey, I decided to get off the interstate and take the back roads of Georgia and Alabama down to I-10.  This road less traveled took me through Dothan, Alabama.  I lived in Alabama for 20 plus years, but never ventured through Dothan.  Now I know why.  Apparently, the child beauty pageant craze is alive and well in Dothan.  Nearly every other billboard along 431 advertises a toddler’s pursuit of a tiara.  As I drove along 431 and read the good luck messages printed under the gigantic 6-year-old faces, I assumed the parents of these little girls thought it was a good idea and a great use of money to plaster their child’s face (fake lashes, red lipstick, flipper, and all) on a billboard.  If anyone knows how much it costs to wish little Kaitlin or Sophie or Honey Boo Boo good luck during the next Little Miss Peanut Pageant on a 20’x60’ billboard, please let me know.  I would also like to know if in the case of defeat, when does the billboard come down?  Will it stand as a public and constant reminder to the Honey Boo Boo’s of Dothan that they just don’t have what it takes to wear the rhinestone crown?  Needless to say, I don’t plan on driving through Dothan ever again, so I will have to live without understanding this phenomenon.

Back on the interstate, I stopped at a Starbuck’s for a coffee.  As a waited for my Skinny Peppermint Mocha, which in my opinion is one of the main reasons to love the Holiday Season, I walked around the shop looking at all the overpriced, coffee-themed gifts.  Then I saw her: the woman who made me appreciate my parents’ strict rules concerning how to behave in public.  This woman, probably in her mid-forties, was curled up is a corner chair, and she was barefoot.  She had kicked off her sandals before tucking her feet under one thigh.  Maybe she was confused and thought she was in her own house, but I doubt it.  So I ask you, when did we become so comfortable in public that being barefoot with your feet on the furniture is acceptable?  And did I mention that the chair was upholstered?  God knows what is living in the fabric and Poly Fill of that chair.  Well, lady, whatever is living on that chair, is now on your bare feet.  Please, people, no matter how comfy the soft chair and adult contemporary music of the coffee shop make you feel, keep your shoes on.  Let’s at least pretend we were all raised with a little grace and dignity.  Fighting back irritation and gags, I grabbed my coffee and got back on the road.

Over the next 100 miles, I saw the failure of our driver’s education programs.  For the sake of my sanity, please remember these tried and true rules of the road:

  1. The left lane is the passing lane, also known as the “fast lane.”  If the speed limit is 65 mph and you have your cruise control set to 65 mph, get over to the right lane!  Some of us have places to go and are very tired of watching you hold your phone to your ear oblivious to the line of cars piling up behind you!
  2. Furthermore, the signs that state “Slower traffic keep right” means to get in the right-hand lane if you prefer to drive under the speed limit or slower than the woman pounding on her steering wheel behind you.  Get over.  Get over.  Get over!
  3. Tailing me so closely that all I can see in my rearview mirror is the grill of your monster truck will not make me go faster.  Can’t you see that the person in front of me will not get over?
  4. Unless you have Ariel from Footloose in the car with you and plan to reenact the car-straddling scene, stop driving the exact same speed as the person next to you.  Please see #1 for proper use of the left lane.
  5. If I am leaving two car lengths between my car and the car in front of me, that space is not actually for you to fill.  The guy behind me in the monster truck is getting really angry.  He could pass me, but prefers to scare the hell out of me instead.  If I have to hit my brakes because you cut me off, he will literally roll over me.
  6. And finally, stop doing everything that is not related to driving including fiddling with your phone, eating, putting on mascara, reading (this is specifically to the woman who actually had a book propped on her steering wheel), digging around your floorboard, bag, or console, and lastly, please, please, put Muffy in her crate.  Would you drive with your baby in your lap?  Only if you’re Brittney Spears.
But in the spirit of Thanksgiving and the entire Holiday Season, I am thankful for all the elements of my recent road tripping, the irritable and the completely baffling.  The rage fueled my motivation to arrive home as quickly as possible, and the wonderment kept me awake.

Please feel free to include your driving pet peeves, road trip wonders, and rules of the road in the comment section below.  Knowledge is power, people.  Let’s educate the masses.