The announcement came just about a month ago, and after more than 20 years I feel a sense of vindication.
As of Feb. 22 of this year, Cinemark banned large purses and bags from its 533 movie theaters across the country. The company said it was for the protection of movie-goers, but most of those movie-goers see it as having more to do with cracking down on people sneaking in snacks.
I say, what took them so long?
I was a newly divorced guy in 1995 trying to navigate the world as a single dad. Simple ventures like going to the movies were suddenly puzzles to be solved. And the first time I took my son to a Saturday afternoon matinee I was feeling mighty proud that I had this thing under control.
First of all, we drove to a movie theater all the way up in Eynon to take advantage of one dollar admission for all, adults and kids alike. This is the kind of thing a mommy would know about and take advantage of, I thought.
So was stopping in a chain pharmacy store for our movie candy. Ever notice how Walgreens and Rite-Aids are often located close to movie theaters? There’s a reason for that.
We even got there early, another mommy tactic I employed quite effectively I must say, placing us third in line at the ticket booth, with dozens of people behind us by the time the doors opened.
Speaking of mommies, that’s all that were in line that day. Mommies and their kids. I was the only dad.
As we waited, my son, 8 years old at the time, whispered in a voice that was hardly a whisper, “Dad, you have to hide our candy.” He was pointing to the big bag in my hand.
“What do you mean, hide the candy?”
“I don’t think they let you take candy into the movies,” he said.
“Get outta here. Why can’t you take candy into the movies? What is this, Russia?”
“I don’t know, Dad,” he said, “but mom always takes the candy and stuffs it into her purse.”
“Well, I’m not mom,” I answered. “And in case you haven’t notice, I don’t carry a purse.”
By now all the mommies were paying attention to us and those who weren’t laughing out loud were trying to stifle their snickers. Even their kids were chuckling.
The line began to move forward.
“What’s in the bag?” the teenager at the ticket booth asked when our turn came.
“Our candy,” I answered matter-of-factly, and as it turned out, innocently.
“Well, you have to leave it here with me,” he said.
Michael gave me one of those looks.
“Leave it here?” I asked incredulously. “What is this? Russia?”
“Just hand it over,” the teen said.
By now the mommies’ laughter was starting to become grumbles.
So hand it over I did.
We proceeded to the candy counter, which not surprisingly had no line whatsoever, and bought the $8 popcorn and $5 Raisinettes and $5 Milk Duds.
Inside, those mommies gave me a real lesson in how to take kids to the movies. They pulled out not only candy but also big bags of chips and pretzels, packages of Oreos and, get this, hoagies. Hoagies!
Then we could hear ring tabs popping all around us as those mommies opened cans of soda. At least, I assume they were cans of soda.
My son was wise enough to not say “I told you so” as we drove home. But as we rode along in silence, I vowed to myself, “The next time we go to the movies, there’ll be no mommies laughing at my bag of candy. They’ll be laughing at my purse.”
It’s taken more than 20 years, as I said earlier, but now it appears the movies are getting the last laugh. I wouldn’t bet against the nation’s mommies, though. If there’s another way to smuggle goodies into the movies, I’m sure they’ll find it.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.