All parents of smallish children will know that this past weekend was the opening of Cars 2, the Pixar sequel about a red racecar with a heart of oil and a refreshingly blue collar BFF. We have been waiting for months and months and moons to see this movie and have ogled all the billboards up and down the Los Angeles boulevards of broken dreams. Every time we drove past a hooker in a tube top slumming her hand-me-down hips while blocking our view of the bus stop poster, Otto would cry out, “Cars 2!”
I would then yell, “Yahoo, it opens June 24!”
Otto would yodel in response, “Is that tomorrow?”
This went on for what seemed a lifetime until the day finally came. Saturday we met a bunch of Otto’s school pals at a local theatre where you can buy your seats on line and not have to stand around punching strangers in their diaper bags for a better spot in line while begging your child to hold his urine flow until you get past the ticket takers dressed like street performing cymbal monkeys and plop down in cushy seats that cost $14.50 for a matinee.
The movie was fun, everything went perfectly and all the kids in our corral were absolute angels, behaving as if Frauline Maria had slapped them with a few music lessons, a one-hour Miss Manners tutorial and tightened their Lederhosen just before the previews began. I was so impressed and proud and happy to see Otto and his peeps completely transfixed by boxes of popcorn, a plethora of talking sports cars and a communal box of Red Vines. But as quickly as my high was flying I began to suspect all was too good to be true. Sure enough, there was a warring tribe of pygmies directly behind us who began their quick jog into maniacal mayhem.
Apparently, two brave but dimly lit moms decided to take six scrappy, squirmy kids to see a loud, frenetic and often adult-referenced film without a back-up team or a set of bicycle locks. Within twenty minutes the kids behind us began to kick seats, crush popcorn kernels into our headrests and complain. One little girl decided that grabbing Otto’s friend’s shoulders every few minutes was a great time killer and another chose the path of least comfortable by launching herself over the back of my seat and onto my head. This particular stunt left little Lily Lemon drop squished between my cup holder and my right arm still clutching to the Coke her mom so brilliantly bought her and giving her mother a grand mal seizure.
Needless to say the Broken Brady bunch ended up leaving before the end of the movie, most likely because the moms were either too embarrassed to look us in the eyes or too afraid that one of their many charges had soiled themselves just before Mater saved Lightening McQueen’s life.
“Is that a melted Milk Did in your back pocket or did you just poop yourself, Penelope?”
Oddly enough, I never got irritated or enraged or injured. In fact, I felt nothing but pride for our gaggle of venerable Von Trapp’s as well a river of sympathy for the two mommies who tried.
When you have a child and you are doing your wobbly best to successfully engineer public outings with said child, a fuzzy coating of understanding suddenly envelops your DNA helix, like putting a wool blazer on a salad spinner. Every parent you see wrestling with sticky sippy cups or broken stroller locks or tantrum-riddled tikes makes you melt in the middle and feel their pain. We have all been through it and all survived. But when you live in the village and someone else’s shit is raining down on their twisted, thatched roof and some of the turd nuggets happen to land on your weatherproofed windowsill be cool like Fonzi, take a deep breath and hand the perturbed parent a wet wipe, a shot of tequila and a DVD of The Sound of Music. It may be the village of the damned but damn it, if it isn’t the best place on earth.