Recently, on a Friday morning, Monty and I have been taking in a mid-morning movie and getting our nails did. It’s a positive model.
The movie cinema is busier at 10am on a Friday than you think; but very few people are taking in utilitarian animated offerings like Pils Adventures and Bob’s Big Burger Movie (or something like that). In fact over the two movies we have only had one other patron sharing the cinema with us, and he claimed to be reviewing the movie for a local paper. This seemed unlikely based on his jittery eyes and his frequent use of incorrect verb structures. I would strongly assess he was paying for two hours out of the cold, much like we were. Given the disjointed, dubbed, Francophile oddness of Pils Adventures he probably wished he rather invested in two caramel lattes at Gloria Jeans, with whipped cream. We did.
Anyway, if you think you can breeze into a cinema mid-morning on a school day, pick up a ticket and a dangerously-sized popcorn with three minutes to spare you can think again. If you plan your time like this you will absolutely miss the commercial for a local menswear store starring the owner of that menswear store wearing his own menswear to the soundtrack of Italian opera. No, the queue will be at least 12 deep.
There’s the guy by himself who does not take off his pom-pom beanie buying two choc-tops, there’s the retired couple who spend quite some time debating whether they need the medium or the large popcorn. They choose large and are then embarrassed and shocked at the size of it. They leave the monstrous box sitting on the counter for a moment or two unsure what to do with it, while the clerk tries to make eye contact around or over it to secure payment (always in cash). They then cart it away together muttering muted, bashful explanations. Also, there is usually a shabby but amiable looking chap who orders a glass of wine with his Maltesers and says something like “it’s after ten isn’t it?” to the ticket/ snack lady who does not smile in response. He smiles anyway and wanders off into the gloom. None of these people chose the movies we did.
On our second visit the ticket/ snack/ parental advice lady told me she had been told “by management” that the Big Bob’s Burger Movie (despite being animated and shown at 1040 in the morning) was not “suitable for children”. She herself does not have children, so she explained, but she was just passing on the message she had been asked to pass on to any adults who appeared intent on making a dangerous movie choice on behalf of their infants. Now, this is a tricky spot to find yourself in as a parent-in-public. The next most ‘child friendly’ option appeared to be Top Gun: Maverick but I presumed the plot was likely too complex for Monty to follow. The only other option was leaving again without movie and without popcorn; a poor option indeed. So I publicly proclaimed that indeed I was choosing to ignore the direct, expert advice of the Dendy Corporation and that yes I would be exposing my four year old to adult themes, and we went for it.
The movie was pleasant enough; there was an animated teenage boy riding a horse in his underwear at one point and several tangential references to male genitalia but Monty enjoyed himself and didn’t seem particularly scarred. I am not confident ticket/ snack/ parental advice lady was entirely correct in her advice; but that depends greatly on your parenting ethos I suppose.
As we discussed the pros and cons of upgrading to a medium popcorn next time we strolled down to the New York Nail Salon and Monty chose ten different colours at random (5 sparkly and 5 plain). We assumed our positions behind the thick perspex and held our hands still as statues (Monty is amazing at this). We were treated throughout with detached antipathy, we were scolded sharply for moving our fingers prematurely, I received judgmental incredulity for having not removed my wallet from my pocket prior to the polish application, we received no smiles, no thank yous and no polite platitudes. In short we were treated like everybody else. The sight of a father and his son getting their nails did at lunchtime on a Friday raised exactly zero eyebrows. For me, this is great progress indeed.