Saturday, July 16, 2005

Surrounded in the Red State

Took the kid to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory yesterday -- it was all right, worth seeing, with some nice bits, though flawed -- well, right, I'll come clean: any movie with Johnny Depp is, for me, a movie worth seeing, so there you are. And this has that kid in it as well. He's a great kid. A few weird and boggy scenes don't terminally damage the movie.

Anyway, previous to the movie, we're hanging with the audience, me and mr. delagar and the kid, and the auditorium is packed, so I'm forced to sit next to Mrs. Red State and her sister-in-law and their kid. She knows the minute I sit down that she doesn't want her kid sitting next to me. I don't know how she can tell I'm a flaming liberal but she can. Can't be the jeans, b/c she's in jeans. Maybe it's the Birks. Maybe it's my undyed hair. Most Red State women in the Fort, as Fort Smith is called, dye -- or tint, they don't call it dying, since only sluts dye their hair, they call it tinting or coloring -- their hair, and the fact that mine is still its original sort of sandy/woody brown, that might be what tipped her off.

Who knows. Anyway, she gives me several unfriendly looks, and then, in a high, artifical voice, asks her child if he "can see" in that seat -- the one next to me. Wouldn't he like to switch with her. To her seat. Since it has a much better view.

Yeah. Whatever.

I'm amused. I pretend not to notice her elaborate arrangement. If she thinks I'm going to infect her kid with liberal genes -- or I don't know, maybe she thinks I'm going to kidnap him during the movie? I don't know what she's thinking -- then whatever. But me? Scary? Where are these people from?

Oh, yes. Scott County. Never mind.

Anyway, she moves her kid. She gets her sister-in-law to move down an extra seat, so that she's got a seat between me and her. She calms down -- a little.

Then the kid -- my kid -- starts asking questions. I've forgotten, by this point, about the Red State woman and her panic, so I'm just answering the questions -- about books, about Hank the Cowdog, about what my students did that day. "Tell me something scary," the kid instructs at one point. "Tell me the scariest thing you can think of."

"Karl Rove," I say, which I still think was a pretty funny answer.

The Red State woman shoots upright in her seat, gasping in outrage.

I look over, making eye contact, and grin.

This pissed her off even more. Apparently she's free to treat me like I'm a demon, but I'm supposed to keep pretending I don't notice.

Anyway, finally, the movie starts, the previews come up, and, among other things, Tim Burton's new movie gets previews, Corpse Bride. It looks brilliant, I have to say, and mr. delagar and I are laughing at all the great bits -- like when the corpse bride's eyeball pops out and she giggles and pops it back in again, saying, "Ooo -- maggots!" and the skeleton dog and Johnny Depp saying, "You should have known him when he had fur," and, of course, the pirate, and all around us, mostly, the theater is appalled, aghast, wonder, I can hear it so clearly, now what movie have we come to see? and when the preview is over there is this dead silence.

I say, "I can't wait."

Red-state woman says, "We'll be giving that one a pass."

It's our country, writ small.

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