Trying to keep up with the child labor practices of other countries, I had the great opportunity to put my Grandson to work this morning. One of the first things we needed to establish was the kind of music he wanted to listen to as he slaved away at picking letters, cleaning signs and throwing stuff into the dumpster. I flipped on the Pandora mix and he went to work.
Since most of the music seemed to be sappy stuff, we edited the playlist for something more fun and upbeat. When some bluesy-jazzy piece came on, I had to blow his mind and fiddle along with the tune. He was mildly impressed that I could match a few notes and seem to know what I was doing. I think he was even more impressed when he tried it himself and things did not sound exactly the same. Now it was time to go back to work. Frequent breaks of spontaneity are always encouraged just to stay creative, of course.
At some point, a man came in to ask about some sign work. He was a talkative farmer person who made the comment that it was nice to see “my son” working with me in the shop. After he left, I asked Max if he had heard what the man said. Max said “I don’t know how he could have thought that someone with as much wrinkled up skin as you could be my Dad.”
Somehow, the conversation changed to reciting last year’s Kmart “shipped my pants” commercial. Talking poop and farts with an 8-year-old is always killer material that keeps them interested and motivated, you know. I took it upon myself to tell a true story from my own personal history. He would be riveted.
In 1976 I was driving, dating a girl and going to a lot of movies. The nearest movie theater was 30 miles in any direction from where I lived, so the ride was always good and gas was a whopping 70 or 80 cents a gallon… or something like that. The movie: Silver Streak. The place: The State Theater in Freeport, Illinois. This was the final few years of The State Theater… it was pretty run down at the time but also the only place around playing this popular movie.
When we got into the theater, we discovered that it was very crowded. Finding a seat was going to be a trick but we did manage to locate three empty seats at the end of a row. We took the inner two seats, her on the inside, me on the out leaving one empty seat at the end of the row. The previews started and we settled in. At some point a man in a long dark trench coat came along and asked if the seat was open. I told him it was and he proceeded to sit down in the threadbare red velvet padded seat with creamy white chipped paint trim.
He had a very large drink in his hand and asked me to hold it while he got something out of his pocket. I did, he fumbled around and produced a giant movie sized box of M&Ms. I returned the drink and once again paid attention to the girl and the movie… for a bit.
The man leaned very far forward in his tattered seat and very slowly began to pour the M&M’s out of the box and onto the floor. It was a cement floor, so the M&Ms would bounce and roll all over the place as well as roll down towards the front of the theater. I got the girl’s attention and suggested that she check out the guy next to me. I think I got a serious eye roll or maybe a head shake as a response.
After box one, he produced box number two and proceeded to do the exact same thing. This all took several long minutes. After box two I was no longer paying attention to the movie as I wondered what the nut next to me would do next. He turned to me and shoved his giant drink in my direction and asked me if I would hold it for him while he went to the bathroom. I suggested that he could just put it on the floor (with the M&Ms) and I’d keep an eye on it for him. He did and walked to the bathroom.
There were a few minutes of getting back into the movie and then the hulky trench coat M&M spiller guy returned. He sat down and picked up his drink and all seemed calm.
Then I realized that this guy must have gone to the bathroom to take a huge shit – but failed to remove his pants before doing so. We managed to find two new seats somewhere and later I discovered that this guy was some local (probably mentally incapacitated in some manner) individual who was known for this kind of stuff.
Telling the story to Max, we laughed at the “forgot to take down his pants” part and then Max went on to ask “Was that a movie in Black and White?”
Figuring he had no idea what Silver Streak was, I asked him why he asked me if it was in black and white. He figured that back when I was a kid, all movies were in black and white… you know, back in time a million years ago.
Wow, burn number 2!
But, I get the last laugh, mister. Here’s what happens to you when you stick around here long enough…