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Someone screaming in anguish, their guts being ripped from their body. Someone laughing, the sound maniacal. The audience members munch popcorn and sip their favored beverages, unmoved, almost bored. I leave my seat, climbing the spilled-pop-sticky carpet to the entrance/exit. I don’t want to see those kinds of “Coming Attractions,” thanks.  We’re here for a newly released blockbuster Forrest wants to see on the ‘big screen’, not to see unmitigated gore and celebrated cruelty.

My husband catches up with me out in the lobby. “Are you going out to the car?”

I turn. Smile. “No. I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back. No worries,” I assure him.

His eyes plead.

I smile, again.  “Be right back.”

He nods and, relaxing, turns to head back down the dark entry to Theater #3. He knows why I left. I don’t like graphic violence. I see no need for it, except in the rarest of circumstances, and, even then, it can be done in a way that has astonishing impact without resorting to real-to-life depictions. I know. Because I write it, have written it, have made voice actors audio recording my stories choke up, unable to get a clean take time after time–professional voice artists.

In the bathroom, a little girl is waving her hands underneath the faucet, but she’s too short to get it to come on. I wonder where her mother is. I wonder at the architects and engineers who didn’t think about the needs of children and others of small stature. I wave my hand over her faucet, and it turns on. She smiles, mumbles ‘thanks’, and puts her hands under the running water, then manages the electronic eye on the paper towel dispenser by herself, though it’s a stretch.

I check my make-up–rarely wear it. My clothes–black–lay impeccably. My five-inch heels give me an illusion of elegance and grace, despite my petite frame and calloused hands.  My hair, freshly styled, is suitably mussed and tousled. I look like I just stepped out of a magazine instead of rural North Idaho. On purpose. I’ve dressed up especially for my husband. I want his evening to be the best, because these chances happen so rarely for us with his job.

I wash my hands. Think. Head back out to stand near the dark opening that leads down to where Forrest is saving my seat. The “Coming Attractions” are still playing. Sound says that they’re still cruel, mean, and gory. Oddly, the movie we’ve come all the way to the big city to see isn’t that kind of movie, so why are they showing horror and violence trailers is my wonder.

Some tall, teen girls walk by, heading for Theater #4. They sneer, make some comment I don’t understand in some alien-sounding jargon, then spit in my direction. Their efforts fall short. I don’t ‘see’ them, don’t react. The cop standing near the concession stand starts walking over, and the girls vanish down the dark hole that’s Theater #4. He asks if I’m okay. I assure him, “Yes.”

Finally, I hear the opening theme for the movie we came to see. I head back to my seat, Forrest grasping my hand as I settle in…offering me his popcorn.

It’s a rare treat–a night out in the big city a hundred-plus miles from home. The special effects alone will make worthwhile suffering the soles of my shoes sticking to the carpet, the crude “Coming Attractions”, the teens with their hatred. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to be with my best friend and soulmate. It’s Forrest’s night out.

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