When you go to the Friday 1:45pm showing of a long running romantic comedy like “It’s Complicated” in West Los Angeles, the median age in the theater is 75. And by theater, I mean that attempt at coziness with the sofas and lounge chairs dispersed faux-randomly over tiered levels without any thought to the idea that, if polled, most people will say they’d rather not sit on squishy leather couches that are open to the public, especially when “the public” includes both (a) teenagers for whom sitting in the dark thigh to thigh is a rare opportunity and (b) senior adults for whom bladder control and mobility have become a challenge.
I arrived at my single seat with fat puffy arm rests and private little coffee table feeling rather decadent at being in the movies smack in the middle of a thing formerly known as “a work day”. I still have self-imposed work days; it’s just that I have a lot more control over my own schedule. One might say, “total control” but I’m rather superstitious about phrases like that. What’s to stop a speeding Navigator from ramming into my Jeep with me in tow? TheGods/TheUniverse/Fate/Luck? I don’t always trust that crew for bodily protection. As long as The Gods, The Universe, Fate & Luck are running loose in the world, every day I get to have a say about what I’m physically capable of is actually a bit of a gift.
Twelve minutes into the show, two walking people pushed two sitting men into the theater and parked them in the wheelchair zone. As if they weren’t already differentiated enough, both men wore those chunky earphones with red lights on top. That’s when I noticed the median age in the room.
Just as I wondered if Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin were portraying the oldest characters in American cinema flaunting pre & post sexual bliss (had AARP and viagra teamed up on the product placement?), I noticed the couple sitting in front of me. They were on a love seat and, by the light of the screen, their white hair seemed almost lit from the inside. Their hands embraced on the sofa between them.
“I have to go to the bathroom!” It was Chunky Earphone Man #1 using a tone that implied he thought he was speaking quietly. His attendant moved toward him without urgency. Before she had pushed his chair a single foot, her cell phone rang and she left the room without him. The man watched her leave. Then he waited quietly, not looking at the screen.
Coincidentally, or perhaps by power of suggestion, the couple three love seats up began gathering their things. Out of the darkness, the husband/son figure produced a modern looking walker contraption that flipped stroller style into an instant wheelchair. He pushed it around right up next to the sofa and helped the woman who slowly – incredibly slowly – moved from the fixed seat to the moving one. Once pointed in the right direction, she pressed a button and zoomed on out; never to return. I hoped they had chosen to leave deliberately, maybe irritated (as I was) by the director’s sad attempt at Sex in the City inspired middle-aged guffaws. The alternative — that they couldn’t return due to some biological ailment — depressed me.
Sympathy aside, I remained aware that these senior citizens are among the luckiest in the country. Despite physical limitations, they’re out, not only “out in the world”, but in a pretty luxurious part of a city that specializes in luxury.
Finally, Chunky Earphone Man #1’s escort came back to see him out and when they did not return, I held the same hope: that it was his choice.
It would have been nice if he had stayed, though, because in his absence Chunky Earphone Man #2 got to talking; or was it laughing? No, it wasn’t really laughing. He enunciated clearly, “Ha ha.” Repeatedly. Every 5 to 7 seconds. “Ha. Ha.” Throughout the remainder of the entire movie. “Ha. Ha.”
Earlier in the day, right before I walked to the theater, I had lunch at a burger counter with a good book and my phone’s Facebook app. Around ten ‘til one in the broad daylight, *a friend of mine in Hong Kong posted a photo of “tonight’s full moon.” I stared at it in complete delight. My day had only begun, yet I was seeing tonight’s extraordinary moon, in advance (!). It was like seeing in to the future.
I couldn’t know if L.A.’s sky would – in seven hours – offer clouds to dance around the moon like they did over China’s south coast. Who’s to say that Navigator wouldn’t dive into my Jeep before the sunset, anyway? But if I did make it alive to experience the earth’s rotation for my alignment under tonight’s moon, how wonderful.
And what then? Wheelchairs or handholding? AARP sex or weak bladder? All of the above? Ha.
———————————*Thanks, Amanda, for your photo blog, “Wake, now discover … … you are the eyes of the world.”