Sunday, November 23, 2003

Alison goes to the movies

Last week I decided to take Alison for her first movie. Alison is the precocious 3-year old niece who cutely lisps that I’m her ‘bess friend’. That kind of a compliment can be quite heady and enslaving. So when ‘Finding Nemo’ came to town, I offered to take her for it.

The excitement was unbelievable. The wait seemed interminable. The anticipation almost unbearable. And that was just her grandparents!

“Have you got the tickets?,” my mother asked on Monday. A full 5 days before the promised movie.

I’m an ardent movie lover, but I’ve always treated advance booking with disdain. The last-minute dash to the theatre, bagging the last two available seats, feeling one’s way into the darkened auditorium, reading the opening credits while stumbling into one’s seat – are to me a part of the complete movie experience. But when there are 4 excitable grandparents to contend with, advance booking is the lesser evil.

Wednesday onwards, a flurry of mails congested my inbox. Surprisingly, they were from my usually phlegmatic sister. “Should I tell Alison or will you?” “Are you booking tickets today?” “Let me know as soon as you get tickets. I have to tell them to prepare her at home…”

A fun outing was beginning to take on the solemnity of a ceremony. I was beginning to get nervous. Egged on by the excitement around, even Alison had begun asking, ‘When we are going for de movee?’ This even before she knew what a movie was.

Tickets were bought. All concerned parties were informed.


Then began the second part. “What time are you coming to pick her up?’ “Should I pack something for her?” “How long is the movie?” Movie, what movie?! This was a rite of passage.

Before I set out, I got the final instructions. “Carry her waterbottle and some biscuits.” “Bring her out during the interval for fresh air.” “If she starts crying take her home.”

Was Alison on pins, waiting for her introduction to the marquee? When I reached, she was sound asleep with her little bottom in the air. A quick change of clothes and a swig of milk later, we were off. “What we are going to do?,” she asked me naively. How wonderful to be blessed with short-term memory!

Armed with popcorn and chips and with me as interpreter, she serenely watched the movie. Occasionally asking loudly, the way only children can, “Why are the lights off?” and “Where’s the big TV?” The only time she got animated was when she saw the Happy Meal toy at McDonald’s. ‘Hee-mo, Hee-mo,’ she chirruped, ‘I want Hee-mo’.

That’s what it came down to for her. A stuffed toy. All that animation wizardry and cutesy story ultimately meant an addition to her toy collection.

‘So how was the movie,” everyone began asking her. And she spun off some fanciful tale while they listened enthralled.

Alison starts school next year. I can’t wait to watch the drama unfold then.

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