Saturday, July 14, 2007

Excuse Me?

I need to stop leaving the house, all it does these days is annoy me. I must be getting old and, I'm not! I'm not even forty yet, I'm not a curmudgeon already. Went to the mall (my first mistake, I know) with my eight year old the other day and, as usual, was amazed at how far we have fallen, manners-wise. Long ago, I dubbed people's behavoir in these enclosed, eye scorchingly bright, too-loud enclaves of conspicuous consumption as "mall manners". Just check your awareness of anyone but yourself at the door and come on in! Eye contact is not encouraged, moderation of the volume of your conversation is definitely frowned upon, and anyone using the forbidden phrase will be summarily excommunicated from the collective. What, you ask, is the forbidden phrase? Oh, my dears, we dare not speak it. But I must, I cannot let this simple phrase pass into oblivion. Indeed, I consider it my duty to keep it alive. For the greater good, I will pass this knowledge on. These words, when uttered together, are as rare and little seen as the last of the spotted owls. Small words, three syllables in all...Excuse me. There! I've said it, now you, say it aloud and remember how it sounds. Try using it at home, don't go public immediately, not until you're sure how to wield this most potent of weapons. It can be used easily in the home, especially if you live with children (boy children, in my experience), due to their ability to fart or burp on command. As you gain confidence, as the words begin to come naturally, you can carefully use them outside of the safety of your own domain. Tread carefully, there are those who know not this phrase, and may fear it, may fear you. I suggest using it in context to yourself only at first, that way, you cannot be accused of harming others with this most dangerous combination of words. If YOU, not others, burp in public, say it. If YOU bump into someone, say it. Even if you simply pass between someone and the shelf of canned soup they're examining in the grocery store, say it. Trust me, no harm will come to you.

This said, I return to my story of my son and I at the mall. I don't even remember what possessed me to enter this, my most hated of places. The one guaranteed to make me crabby and occasionally, usually around a major holiday, break out in hives. But there we were, on a weekday afternoon, only the most foolhardy amongst us, venture into this realm on the weekend. I thought my plan was solid, what with the weekday attack, there would more likely to be people like me there at that time, right? They looked like me, there was nothing to indicate I had unwittingly brought my son into dangerous territory, I thought for sure we would be safe. At first, I thought we'd be okay, the mall wasn't too crowded, it looked to me like I was about the average for the age group in attendance. Until IT happened. There we were, passing by Bath and Body Works when my son was struck down, blindsided by a bustling, power walking, ninja of the white sale. She didn't look like an assassin, her weapons were cleverly camouflaged to look as harmless as possible. I spotted it for what it was, that wasn't on overlarge purse she was wielding, it was an instrument of death. Maybe I'm overreacting, maybe it was just a purse, we'll never know because she never even broke stride after whacking my kid on the back of the head as she hustled past us, determinedly striding toward Garden Gnomes R Us or Giant Purse Heaven. My son stopped dead in his tracks, however, and with the outrage that only an eight year old can muster, he bellowed the forbidden phrase for all to hear. "EXCUSE ME!" A hush fell over the nearby mall patrons.

Some seemed confused, was the child speaking in tongues? Others seemed amused, he must not know what he's saying, isn't he precious? But a small number, perhaps part of the rebellion like me, seemed to approve. Could it be? Are there more of us out there? Must we live our lives hidden, fearful of being exposed for what we are? We are a dying breed, the manners afflicted. We must fight on! Together we can prevail! If we utter the forbidden phrase often, if we use it wisely and carefully, one day it may be forbidden no more. On that day, we can begin to show others we are not to be feared and hated, that there are even more phrases once used that caused no harm. We can save them! You know the words, I know you do! Dare I use them all at once? If I am taken for doing so, you must continue what has begun here, promise me. I'll do it, for all of us: Please...Thank You...You're Welcome...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause your child brain damage with my abnormally large and heavy purse. Ooops, that one just kind of slipped in there, my bad.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

First of All

Okay, I'm finally giving the blogosphere a shot, we'll see what happens. My mother used to tell me that I've never had an unpublished thought, now I can finally tell her she's right about that. I have decided that there is a tragic lack of logic and a startlingly tiny amount of common sense out there. Well, here it is...I think we might have a corner on the market these days. So you're about to step into Libbydom (I'll think of a better name for my world once I'm done creating it). Please check your cell phones at the door and do everything I say and things will make so much more sense. If everyone would just step back and let me run things...

This whole thing is motivated by an experience at the movie theater the other night. My 13 year old son and I went to see the midnight show of "Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix", we've been waiting for AGES! Things started out just swell, good crowd, everyone was in a great mood, the popcorn smelled wonderful and the Milk Duds were nice and fresh, don't you just hate when the Duds are hard and the chocolate flakes off?, but I digress. All seemed nearly perfect as we waited to go into the movie, ran into some friends, chatted with the strangers in line, generally happily passed the time until the big moment arrived. We were among the first people into the theater, a sea of seats stretched out before us, the possibilities were endless, the best seats were ours for the taking! This is a moment to savor, but only for as long as the buffeting crowd around you allows. My son decided that seats up at the top of the theater were the best, for both movie and people watching. His choice sounded great, the back row, nobody behind me kicking my seat, giving comfort to my inherent paranoia about not knowing who or what is sneaking up behind me...we'll save THAT for another day. We settled into our seats and waited for the lights to dim.
The house lights went down, the crowd quieted (mostly), the previews began and yet, something wasn't right. I became aware of strange lights, they came at me from every direction (except behind, of course). These lights not only glowed solidly and brightly in oddly perfect square shapes, but some flashed incessantly and seemed to light the faces of people only an arm's length away. What could be happening? Why was I the only person who noticed? How is it possible? The possibilites raced through my mind, some sort of alien invasion? Could it be previously undiscovered mutant, giant, square, flashing fireflies? Then, with the dawning horror of the cornered teenage babysitter in any given slasher movie, I realized what was happening. I was trapped, surrounded on all sides by the most feared monster in all the land. The manners-impaired, oblivious to anyone but themselves, hopelessly dependent...the cell phone junkies. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! I frantically, helplessly, looked for someone, anyone to come to my aid...there was no one. I was alone, more alone than I've ever been in my life. Like the last survivor of a zombie plagued world, I began to wonder if it just wouldn't be easier to succomb, simply give myself over to the inevitable and become one of them. From deep inside my soul I drew strength from the primitive genes of our shared past, the survival instinct kicked in. I MUST prevail so that future generations can learn and never ever repeat this dark and frightening time. My thoughts raced madly. What could I do? How can I win against such insurmountable odds? Weaponry? Cunning? Really loud screaming? I began to plan my escape and eventual attack against this most insidious of foes. I went to the theater owner (small town, the guys who owns the place, runs the place) and suggested some kind of full body search before each movie. He seemed a bit taken aback and I believe he thought I was kidding. Did he not see? Did he not understand? Or...the horrific thought came all at once: Was he one of THEM?
I did suggest a slightly less intrusive option, some sort of "phone check" area, just like a coat check, only without the hangers...and coat racks. Oh, you get the idea. He did tell me about a gadget that is used in theaters in a far flung land called "Canada" that jams the signal of these strange technological weapons. You can use your phone in the lobby, but not in the theater itself. "Canada", I whispered. "Tell me more of this wonderous place, this world saving device. Would they be willing to share their magic with us?" "No" he said, sadly shaking his head, "we can't use it here, it's some kind of civil rights thing or something like that."
It's a violation of our civil rights to make people turn off their cell phones during a movie? You're kiddng, right? Right?! RIGHT?!?! Please be kidding. Please? Nope, not kidding. How sad that we have to be forced to do things that should be common courtesy.
I do have to wonder, these people hauled their butts to the theater at midnight on a Tuesday to pay five bucks to see this movie on the first night and they spend half the time texting the guy sitting two seats away? What was the point? Why did they bother? Do you suppose they put their phones down to go to the bathroom? Or while in the shower? Or when they're...doing other intimate things? Let's not go there, just don't. You'll never ever, ever get that picture out of your head. It's there already, sorry about that.
So that's it for now, if you take nothing else from reading my little saga, take this: Don't use your cell phone in the movie theater, I might be sitting next to you.