Within the past 10 years I have lost both of my grandparents which was difficult. My grandma and grandpa were an important part of my life as I lived with them for years during my youth. My grandma taught me that cleaning the floor boards really is important, which I've probably never done since but she tried really hard to instill this type of mentality in me. How to take care of my family and my home. My grandfather fought in WWII, took care of his family working in an office job he may or may not have enjoyed. But like my grandma he absolutely believed it was his job to provide while she took care of the home. He was my favorite. You aren't supposed to have favorites but he was mine. Living with my grandparents near taught me to respect my elders. So when you read the story below you may want to keep that in mind.
A Day To Myself
A few days ago I had a midday doctor's appointment so my mom had taken the kids for the day and I decided I would also see Magic Mike XXL. A nice day to myself after an appointment where I knew I'd be ready for some time alone. It was the perfect plan.
I drove out to our local AMC Theater because I like the seats the most, I'm pretty picky about these things and since I'm in Orlando we have so many theaters to choose from. However a lot of thought and even a scheduling error had gone into my movie time and theater decision that day so I think the following story was kismet.
Our Awkward Introduction
As I walked up to the ticket booth an elderly woman stopped me and asked, "What's good?"
"Um, I'm not sure? What have you already seen?" I asked her.
"I haven't seen a movie in nine years," she replies.
This completely throws me off. Obviously I can't imagine someone putting off movies for nine years. "I might not be the best person to ask. I have a particular taste. If you were to want my opinion I'd say The Avengers. That's the comic book characters, Iron Man, Captain America and those guys. It's really good. Or maybe Spy, it's a comedy and possibly more your speed."
"What are you seeing?" she asks. It's then I realize she seems to be blind in one eye.
I hesitate because I feel embarrassed by my movie choice all the sudden. "Well, I'm seeing Magic Mike. It's the movie about the male strippers."
"If I see that will you sit with me?" she seems genuine, like she doesn't just want to see a movie but would instead like some company.
I'm at a loss for words and slightly annoyed. I wouldn't bring my grandmother to see this movie and now someone else's grandmother wants to sit with me and make small talk. "Oh, I mean I will but I'm just not sure this will be your type of movie. If you don't like it or it's too inappropriate I don't want you to blame me." I told her through slightly manic laughter.
"They had strippers in my day. They kept their underwear on but they did have strippers. If you'll sit with me I'll see that," was her quick reply.
So she bought her ticket, much to the ticket sales lady's shared embarrassment. She did exactly what my grandmother would do at that age. She dropped her money on the ground, she lost her ticket within a few seconds of the woman handing it to her when really it was just in her hand. It honestly felt quite familiar.
When we got inside she said she needed to go to the bathroom but so did I so I walked with her. She told me to please wait for her and I did. We went into the theater and although I like to sit up high I sat near the bottom so she didn't have to climb. Much like parenthood I found myself sacrificing the things I wanted for my special day in order to accommodate someone else. The problem was I didn't even know this person. Also we were quite early. I had planned on catching up on some blog posts my friend's had written so we had over 20 minutes to sit. Now what?
Getting To Know Anna
That's when she began to tell me about her life. This stranger's name was Anna. She was from Puerto Rico originally and lived in the El Yunque rain forest. Anna worked in timeshares which she enjoyed but it was 50 years ago. She told me how she married the best man there ever was. He fought in World War II. Then he gave her a son. Now she had three granddaughters and she thinks she has seven great-grandchildren but it might only be six, you lose track. Unfortunately though he died too soon. Anna told me this with tears in her eyes. I told her I was sorry to hear that and I took her hand in mine. But then she smiled and admitted he had only died a few years prior in 2009, but it was still far too soon. She was 81, he was 89 but truly, the best man you could know.
She told me some personal things I won't share but it sounded like Anna's lonely and that when she does receive phone calls they aren't always to hear about her day. And then she got very serious and told me that there is one lesson she wants to teach me and that is not to be demanding of my elders. That they've fought in wars, raised children alone with little to no help and with no such thing as a day to themselves and that they worked hard for everything they have and they only have so much left to give. I thought that was a good lesson.
It Wasn't Lost On Her
It was time for the movie to start and one of the first scenes is Joe Manganiello's naked butt. I was humiliated. I still felt a bit of resentment that I had to feel bad about my movie choice. That surely every person who walked into this movie wondered why I brought my grandmother to a stripper movie.
As the movie progressed it only got worse. Every third word is a swear. At one point there is a scene where Joe Manganiello rips open a bag of Doritos, humps a drink cooler, pulls out a water and sprays it from his crotch, mimicking high powered ejaculation. I wished I could disappear into my seat. That's when Anna leaned over and said "I think I'm starting to catch the drift." It was then I knew the day wasn't a waste and I was able to relax.
Maybe I Walked Away With More Than Anna
At the end of the movie she explained she enjoyed it very much. But it was when she said, "I thought it was in good taste." that I lost it. I laughed so hard I think it surprised her.
I said back "Anna, of all the movies we could have seen today, this movie is by far in the least good taste."
"Lee, 40 years ago when I worked for the time shares my friends hired a stripper for my birthday. That man was not in good taste."
There was still something I needed to know so I took that moment to ask, "Anna what made you decide that today you'd come to the mall and see a movie, after nine years?"
"Honestly I'd just had enough. I was bored. I sit there all day with my dog Lily and finally today I said 'Lily. I'm leaving. Be a good girl.' And I took the bus to the mall. The man in Dillards pulled me aside and said this lotion would be good for my wrinkles and I can tell you that he was wrong. It's just plastic, it's uncomfortable and doesn't work at all. I can't wait to get home and get this off my face. But I'm glad I got to see this movie with the boy dancers with you. And that you sat with me. Thank you. Now I need to get to Sears." So I showed her and said goodbye.
All along I was thinking that in 50 years if my husband has passed, and I have very few people to love me and spend time with me, I can only hope a stranger will pay me the same kindness I paid Anna. Even if it means they sit with me at the movie with the boy dancers.
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