Our story begins on a night some time ago when a woman named Kelly got a speeding ticket. Since the police officer in question was not a male, Kelly could not talk her way out of it, and decided to take driving school to keep it off of her record. Given the choice of spending four hours on a Saturday morning, way before the time she usually chooses to get up on a weekend, or attending class on a weeknight, Kelly chose the weeknight, not taking into account that Friday is also a weeknight.
Thus our heroine is stuck on a Friday night, from 6-10, in driving school, much to her dismay.
Meanwhile, across town, Kelly’s friend, coworker and fellow concert-goer, Mary, has arrived at a movie theater with her daughter, Maggie. Mary wisely, or so she thought, purchased a ticket for Maggie to see “Breaking Dawn” online to avoid the inevitable sellout. Mary whips out the credit card she used to purchase said ticket, as instructed by the website, telling the box office lad, “I purchased one ticket online for the 7:30 ‘Breaking Dawn’ show.” The box office lad, an agreeable young fellow, swipes Mary’s card. And swipes it again. And again. Mary is beginning to think that this is a bad sign. The young fellow calls to his superior, who also swipes it.
“Are you sure you purchased the ticket with this credit card?” (Mary is, in fact, sure, as she had to choose American Express from a drop down window and she specifically remembers doing so.) “Because we don’t take American Express.” This statement is followed up by more head scratching by theater personnel and steam building by Mary. “What website were you on?”
“Uhh…” Mary tries to control her sarcasm, “…YOUR website,” but doesn’t succeed.
“Do you have your confirmation number?”
“No.” Mary thinks, who really writes those down anyway, sure you act like you do, and, if you’re feeling particularly creative, you might even pretend that you are searching for a pen, but you don’t write the sucker down. “The website said all I needed was the credit card I purchased the ticket with, THIS credit card.”
“But we don’t accept American Express.”
Mary sighs. “So I’ve heard. However, I purchased it online with the American Express card.”
“Did you receive your confirmation number? Because if we had that, we could look it up.”
Mary, through gritted teeth, “I’ll call home.”
On calling home Mary again finds that she has to bite her tongue as she talks her family members through pulling up information on the computer. Information that is noticeably lacking. Impatient, Mary hangs up and again approaches the ticket window. “They can’t find the confirmation number, so I’ll just purchase a ticket.”
With a proud smile the woman that Mary presumes is the manager states, “We saved tickets for you.”
How freaking considerate.
Mary again hands over the American Express, the card is swiped, and this time the card is handed back with a receipt and, presumably, a ticket for Maggie’s entry. Mary walks away, but as she goes to hand the ticket to Maggie she realizes that there are TWO tickets. Apparently the young lad, in the twenty minutes since their conversation first began, has forgotten that Mary only needed one ticket. Fed up and unable to face the ticket booth attendant and go through another trial explaining the mix up, Mary decides to just see the gosh-darn movie.
Since it is dinner time and Mary has not eaten, assuming when she left the house that she was to be back from the theater in a matter of minutes, Mary purchases the “economical” gigantic popcorn and enormous soda, with the $1 box of candy. Although she knows that she will be unable to finish the preceding, she buys into the smiling concession clerk’s assertion that Mary could, indeed, “take any leftovers home.”
Laden down with the gigantic popcorn, along with the enormous soda, box of Butterfingers, cell-phone, purse, and errantly received ticket, Mary proceeds into the theater trailing popcorn behind her like Hansel and Gretel. She fumbles into the nearest available seat in the crowded theater. As she settles into her seat she looks up to find her daughter, Maggie, glaring at her from two rows away.
“I get it. Too close.” Obligingly Mary juggles her belongings and moves to the back of the theater where she finds another seat, again leaving a telltale string of popcorn in her wake. When previews of coming attraction starts sooner than expected, Mary checks her ticket. 7:00, “Breaking Dawn”, Theatre 14. Hmmm, she thinks, I thought it began at 7:30. Just before the movie starts, she texts Maggie, “Did u find ur friend?” Not having received a response from Maggie, Mary is forced to turn her cell-phone off as the movie begins.
The movie sucks, containing both poor acting and laughable special effects, along with a transparent attempt to make more money by stretching the story into two parts by doing a lot of panning around the room to get everyone’s reaction to what’s going on while violins play a ten minute concerto. The popcorn is slimy, the candy stale, and while the soda is okay, it does not make up for the former.
Half-frozen from the movie theater air-conditioning, Mary funnels out with the rest of the crowd when the torture/movie is over. She scans the crowd, but doesn’t see Maggie. Turning on her phone, Mary receives a message from her daughter. “They’re in the 7:30 show.” So there was a 7:30 showing! At this point Mary realizes that she has now purchased three tickets to the wrong show. Along with the cost of the popcorn and such, this movie, which she had no intention of seeing in the first place, has cost her a bloody fortune!
Mary, trembling as the Illinois wind whips around the theater parking lot, still hugging a mostly filled bag of popcorn to her chest, soda in hand, Butterfingers balanced precariously on top of the popcorn, trudges to her vehicle. When she gets in her car, she glances at her phone again. There’s a voicemail message. She cranks the heat up and dials voicemail to pick up a message from Kelly. She listens to the message, laughing out loud in her car until tears are running down her face, while people stream past, using their cell phones to alert the authorities to the presence of the crazy lady in the scratched up minivan.
Back at Heartland Community College, Kelly has entered the driving education classroom and pulled a chair out at a table next to a Mennonite woman, slapping her Coach purse down in front of her. “What are you in for?” she queries.
Luckily the woman has a sense of humor and the two get along famously, which is especially funny if you know about Kelly’s unease with anything Amish, anything she deems close to Amish, or, basically, anything outside her realm of experience. The teacher begins class with this statement:
“I want you to write, ‘Happiness is…” on a piece of paper and then fill in the blank. You will then share your answer with your table members.”
Kelly sits stunned for a minute and then addresses the people at her table. “I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t come here on a spiritual journey, I just got caught speeding, so I’m not answering that.” The table concurs. Minutes later Kelly is called upon to “volunteer’ to come up to the front. “Come on! You’re kidding me!” she says loudly. You have to know Kelly to know that this doesn’t come out rude, just funny. The instructor asks her to give an example of a way a driver can be courteous to other drivers. Kelly’s answer? “You can flash your lights to warn them that there is a cop up ahead.” Shortly afterwards the instructor, understandably, calls for a break and Kelly steps outside to call Mary, the instructor no doubt also placing a phone call, a phone call home to commiserate with his wife and possibly debate his career choice.
Mary, having received Kelly’s message is now in Heartland’s parking lot leaving a message underneath Kelly’s car’s windshield wipers on a half of a paper plate that reads, “Happiness is…baba ganoush,” which is a word that they had been throwing around at work all day.
When Kelly sees the plate, she calls Mary and the two share their stories about their respective evenings, laughing until their sides ache while their kids look on, shaking their heads in disgust.
The moral of this story is, be careful when you purchase theater tickets online; make sure that you are not purchasing them for a theater in a different state. And, for goodness sake, don’t speed. In closing I’d like to advise you to eat more baba ganoush; we can all use more baba ganoush. Thank you, and have a nice day.