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Summer’s here but night is raising hopes and dragonflies

August 4, 2009

In the summer, our local movie theater shows 2nd (or in sometimes 3rd or 4th) run kids movies at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There are two every week, usually one oriented more towards girls and the other more towards boys or at least gender neutral. They’ve been doing this for a number of years, but somehow we’ve never gone. But today, as we were already soggy with sweat in the kitchen at breakfast, we called up a friend of AJs and met them there for Kung-Fu Panda. We saw at the movie theater the first time around and enjoyed it a great deal, even Mr. Spy, who tends to have less patience with juvenile fare than I. But it was even better this time. The kids — ours and the others, were so excited to be there. They laughed hard and loudly, they cheered and booed and applauded wildly when the film called for it. It made me remember what going to the movies was all about.

The summer of 1982, E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial came to the Darien Playhouse and stayed all summer. It was the kind of movie theater that used to be everywhere and has now all but disappeared — a big barn of a room with a balcony eerily dark and sliced in half by the projector’s beam. We used to ride our bikes first to Stoller’s to buy candy, which we stuffed in our pockets, and then to the theater for whatever movie would get us out of the heat and take us somewhere else for a couple of hours. I saw E.T. 8 times that summer.

It seemed to me that at those summer matinees there were never any parents. We got ourselves there or got dropped off and picked up later. The theaters around here are all surrounded by acres of parking lots and are off busy streets not safe for biking. They are certainly not close enough to walk.

Afterwards we would walk down the street for ice cream or maybe a coke at the Sugar Bowl, the diner my mother affectionately refered to as “Ptomaine Hall.”

Today we drove the boys across the street from the theater — close enough to walk, but completely lacking in sidewalks — to a favorite place for hot dogs and frozen custard. AJ’s friend D’s little brother practiced his kung fu moves on the sidewalk and nearly knocked his mother down.

Afterwards, AJ went off with D and his family and I headed to Target for the first of what is sure to be many vacation related shopping trips. In the aisle for travel sized bottles, I picked one up and then the other, checking for cracks and faulty lids. At the end of the aisle, three teachers ran into each other for the first time all summer and began to talk.

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop. They were from my town and they were discussing all the teachers who had been laid off.

“Did you hear there are 190 people on the sub list? 190!”

Another teacher clucked in dismay and proceeded to map out where all the missing teachers had gone. Some, it seems, have left in advance of what is likely to be another round of firings. The school district’s financial state is precarious. I picked up a blue bottle and put it, too back down.

“Put in a good word for me, will you?” said the first teacher, apparently one of the laid-off ones on the sub list. “I need the work.”

I pushed my cart down the aisle and slipped out behind them. They looked worried. I paid for my things and headed to the car. Two teenaged boys were skateboarding down the access road. They slowed down to watch a girl getting out of her car, to see if she was watching them.

I drove home where the horses were galloping across the hillside pasture and the hawks were calling to each other from tree to tree along the stream behind my house. A dragonfly hovered over the tomato plants on the deck. The laundry fluttered on the line. I retreated inside to where it is dark and cool and there is work to be done.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. crankygirl permalink
    August 5, 2009 9:45 am

    I was the only kid I knew who didn’t like ET. He’s creepy.

  2. August 5, 2009 12:11 pm

    Has AJ seen ET? Debating over its kid-friendliness for a 5yo. I barely remember it.

  3. August 5, 2009 12:25 pm

    It’s very kid friendly — funny and adventurous without being scary (startling occasionally, but not scary). We watched it a year or two ago for the first time and he loved it. The Drew Barrymore character is probably around 5, and I think a younger sibling who feels left out sometimes would appreciate her storyline. AJ particularly loved the crazy things that happened with ET in the house, especially when he hid among Drew Barrymore’s stuffed animals, and the flying bikes. I thought the movie wore surprisingly well, although there was some outdated technology I had to explain (Speak n Spell, anyone?). It’s a great family movie.

    Cranky, I can totally understand that. I liked ET, but I saw it 8 times because it was the only movie showing and because it was really hot and the movie theater was one of the few places in town with air conditioning.

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