I felt myself dozing off. In spite of all the action going on, the Bad Guys turning the Good Guys purple and also kidnapping the string-bean heroine, I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I had been up since about 5:30 in the morning. I couldn’t help myself; I was tired.
Then Maddo gave me an elbow shot to the ribs.
“DADDY! WAKE UP!”
Luckily, she knew the rules of the movie theater and whispered that admonishment just loud enough to startle me awake and cause me to nearly spill my $6.75 bag of popcorn. In spite of a 20-ounce Diet Coke weighing on my bladder, the fact that I had fallen asleep came as no surprise to me. In the nearly five years since my wife and I had Maddo, I have only made it through one movie without dozing off—And the fact that that movie is “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, which I have seen at least 10,000 times says a lot about what it takes to keep me awake.
But, this movie in this theater was different from all others. That’s because the movie was “Despicable Me 2” and it was the first time Maddo had been to a movie in a theater.
We made it to the theater for an impromptu Daddy Daughter Day because of stuff that was going on at home. Namely, my younger daughter, Little Sis, had been busy throwing up off and on for the better part of 36 hours. My wife, The Thoroughly Awesome Ms. Crums, and I were supposed to take the girls on a Groupon-deal playdate to this farm over in Half Moon Bay, which is on the California coast and about an hour from our home in Oakland. Little Sis, however, had other things in mind when she woke up at about 2 a.m., for the second night in a row, decorating her bed and bedroom floor with a rainbow connection of colors from deep inside her two-year-old stomach.
My wife didn’t want Little Sis to miss out of the farm trip, so we decided to try again in two weeks. But we also didn’t want Maddo to feel gypped, or spend all of Sunday bouncing off the walls with boredom. The two had already done a car-bomb’s-worth of destruction to our living room on Saturday and we wanted to keep future damage to a minimum.
“You know what, honey?” I said to my wife. “I think I’ll take Maddo…”
“Out to a movie!” was her immediate conclusion to my idea.”
Of course, when it comes to kids and movies, you have to really think about your audience as you make your selection. Among the options were:
–“Fruitvale Station”. This was out…Didn’t need the kid seeing a re-enacment of BART platform shooting.
–“Pacific Rim”?…Not the cuddly, funny monsters I would want her to see.
“Red 2”?…Anything with Bruce Willis is automatically awesome, but I knew my wife wouldn’t go for the CIA assassin badassery.
“Grown Ups 2”? …Uh, didn’t need to see Adam Sandler in anything.
So, we went with a cartoon. And a sequel at that: “Despicable Me 2”. Or, as we called it since I have trained Maddo to add this subtitle onto all sequels, “Despicable Me 2: Electric Boogaloo”. A corny joke, yes, but one that keeps on giving.
[Oh, and here’s a link to the trailer of the movie which spawned that “Electric Boogaloo” joke in the first place.]
Since I live in fear of doing anything without consulting the Internet first, I went online, looked the movie up and decided upon the 11 a.m. show. And what a bargain! Because we were going to a show before 1 o’clock, we got the special “matinee rate” of only $7 for my ticket! And since Maddo is just a kid, she got the discounted ticket price of…$7. Seven goddamn bucks for a four-year-old to go see a movie. I know I sound like Cranky Old Guy here, but…really? To top it off, I went ahead and bought the tickets online, paying an extra $2.50 for our “convenience fee” as I was afraid of a mosh pit of post-church-crowd parents and kids trying to get into the theater.
I shouldn’t have worried. When we got to the box office a half hour before the movie started to claim our tickets, no one was there. There was barely one cashier behind the box office window, too. I think she was still sleeping off her appletinis from the night before when I handed her my receipt to get our tickets.
Me: So…[looking around at nobody, because nobody else was there]…Not a big crowd today.
Me: Guess I could have saved me that convenience fee from buying the tickets online.
Cashier: Yeah…not too many this early. Your movie’s in Theater 5.
Cashier: [Back to reading her friends’ Facebook statuses].
Of course, no movie is complete without popcorn, and no movie popcorn costs less than the price of a case of beer these days. I ordered Maddo the “Kids Pack”…Which for $6.75 got her a kid-size popcorn, a kid-size packet of gummi “fruits”, and a bottle of chocolate milk big enough to make me immediately think, “Bathroom break 20 minutes in”. I got a medium popcorn for only $6.75 itself.
I also wanted a Coke, but in a case of First World Problems, this theater appeared to have no Coke on the premises. And I mean NONE at all. Nothing from the fountains. Nothing in bottles because the counter. The kid working there was apologetic, gave me a big cup with ice, and said I could get a Coke out of one of the vending machines outside our theater. I thanked him, and then cursed the AMC movie theater chain as the vending machine had no Coke to speak of either. No real Coke anyway. I paid the Downtown Moscow-like price of $4.75 for a bottle of Diet Coke and skulked off with Maddo into the theater.
We went inside and right up to the best seats in the house: Dead center, about two-thirds of the way up. We were able to do this because, just like at the box office, there was no one besides us in the theater. Which was fine by me.
I had no idea how this Grand Experiment was going to work. I didn’t know if Maddo would start screaming or crying once all the “Despicable Me” Minions started doing whatever the hell it was they do and we would have to leave early. We had just gotten the first “Despicable Me” movie on Blu-Ray, but I hadn’t watched it. I didn’t know if either Maddo or myself would be able to keep up with “Despicable Me 2: Electric Boogaloo’s” storyline. Would the kid get bored, zone out, and then tell me she wanted to get the hell out of there?
Me: Now Maddo, you need to be quiet in the theater. There are going to be other people watching the movie, too.
Maddo: Oh, I know, Daddy. No talking is a rule! I saw that on TV!
Me [Internally, to myself]: Then this will be the first time you’ve ever listened to ANYONE tell you to be quiet!
Me [What I actually said]: That’s right! Let’s remember that!
The previews went by, the movie began, and…The kid was fine. She ate her popcorn, drank her milk, and laughed when she was supposed to laugh. Yes, she stood up a couple of times, but she’s short enough that she couldn’t block anyone behind us [By the time the movie began, there were about 50-75 people there] and for the most part, she stayed in her seat and behaved herself. She didn’t even raise her voice when she put that elbow into my side to wake my slumbering self. I just hope I wasn’t snoring.
When it was over, she didn’t go crazy, either.
Me: Well, Maddo…Did you like the movie?
Maddo: Yeah, Daddy…Can we have ice cream, now?
After chowing down on popcorn and gummi “fruit”, and drinking up her chocolate milk and an apple juice I had brought for her, and in general acting like a regular, non-crazy human being for the last two hours, I felt a little dessert was in order. A cone of Dreyer’s Peanut Butter Cup put the period on a classic Daddy Daughter Day lunch.
Now, I can’t wait until she’s old enough to take to a real movie. I hear Sylvester Stallone is working on “The Expendables 3” right now…