I sit in the corner of the 'L.' The show has started, though it seems it will be a few minutes before it starts. People mill about freely among the rows and the tables set up in the aisles for the sale of popcorn. Milt sits to my right, Mort and Miles to my left in staggered seats so they both face my left side. Miles taps me on the shoulder to ask which movies are showing. La Cage Aux Folles has already begun on the far screen, the tip of the 'L' within the room. A clown's face appears periodically babbling nonsense in French while men in drag, others in coat tails and formal wear dance behind the clown. Miles asks me what they're saying. If they have subtitles we can't see them from our seats. I do my best to translate what bits of nonsense I can catch above the humming murmur of the room. I ultimately tell Miles not to worry, babble in French is much the same as it is in English. People have settled down in the front rows to watch the moive. They have turned off the lights in the front of the room. To our left lies another screen which has begun warming up. I can tell by the faint orange glow cast across its surface. Immediately in front of us, slightly to the right sits the main concession stand with a smaller screen above it that will show the same movie. Our chairs face the concession stand screen and the one at the front of the room showing La Cage Aux Folles. How stupid, I think, they don't even bother to turn the chairs towards the movie screen. However, Miles, sensing what I have just thought tells me that the room is arranged so people in the back can see two films at once. I believe him, but I still find it stupid.
The orange glow increases in intensity until buildings with a distant blue hue burn themselves into the background. The colors come forward to show a panning expanse of cityscape in differing shades of tawny yellow, orange and red, so colored from the light of the setting sun. I cock my head slightly, not quite leaning it against my right shoulder to better take in the passing shapes. They have filmed the buildings at an angle. I find it easier to appreciate the blue sky filled with cumulus clouds when I tilt my head. Milt asks me the name of this movie. I can't recall what it is. Miles doesn't know, neither does Mort. Barat? . . Beereet . . Besereetara . .? By the shape of the buildings it must take place in San Francisco. Many of them seem to be pyramidal in shape with faces of slender isosceles triangles.
Indeed it must be San Francisco. Milt nudges me and points to his right. Rajiv sits in the row in front of us, roughly 10 seats over between two women. I have to stifle a laugh. Milt has let out a chuckle or two as we watch the unfolding scene. We can just hear his voice above the dull murmur in the room as he desperately tries to impress the two women sitting on either side of him with stories of his life in San Francisco. They seem rather bored and uninterested. One woman takes an emerybord from her purse and being filing her nails. He takes no notice, turning to the other woman to continue his story. She tells him to be quiet. She wants to watch the movie. He stops and gulps noticeably, then haltingly continues, hoping to receive some response. She glares at him then turns back to the screen. He shrinks in his chair.
Now Miles nudges me to ask me what's going on . . is that Rajiv down there? Do you know those people sitting over ther? I decide I need some popcorn.
A black woman, with a bandana in her hair holding back 40 or 50 braids flowing along her neck and shoulders runs the popcorn table. Before I can tell her what I'd like she gives me a belligerent glare.
'Are you gonna scare me?!?'
Why is she yelling at me? I don't know what to say. I return her stare with a puzzled look and say nothing. She places her hands on her hips, and wrinkles her face into a most unpleasant expression, contorting it from anger to hate and back. I think for a moment... This must be one of those inner-city tactics. She's trying to put me on the defensive, expecting me to say, 'Oh, no, I'm not going to scare, you I have no intention of such . . I'm extremely sorry if I. . ' Then she can make me buy popcorn... But that's ridiculous.. I want to buy some popcorn.
'ARE.. YOU.. GOING.. TO.. SCARE.. ME..??'
I pause philosophically for a moment.
She opens her eyes so wide I think her lids will never close again. I think they may explode if they get any wider. She lets out a forced gasp of air and leaves the table to find another woman, complaining that I have not given a response to which she can answer. I decide it's not worth getting popcorn.