Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Demise of Mr. Cranky Pants

“Mom, can you even believe those folks in the theater?”

“Which ones Kate, the children or the grown man and his family?” 

“That MAN!” she said, “he totally annoyed me!”

He had totally annoyed me too.

It all began in the movie theater. 

Kate and I, alone for the afternoon, decided to see a movie. We were happily situated in our seats when a man, woman, and a teenaged girl chose seats in the row directly behind us. In the last few rows of the theater sat what I imagined to be a preschool class or a summer camp group of sorts. They were of kindergarden age give or take a few years and there were maybe six children and two adults. Also in the back rows was a mother and three young children. 

The children chattered, eagerly anticipating the movie. Kate and I portioned out our candy and popcorn making sure the candy boxes were opened and ready to dispense. I finished a text to a friend before the lights dimmed and turned my phone to silent. While I was doing so, the man behind us rather loudly asked his wife if she had her phone on silent. “Yes,” she said irritated, “WHY do you always ask me that, I always do.” 

I thought to myself, perhaps he was trying to send me a signal that my phone would not be welcomed in this section of the theater and that I should put it away. OR maybe he just wanted to check on his wife’s theater etiquette…hard to tell. 

The children who had continued to fidget and chat throughout the previews were shushed by their keepers as the lights dimmed and the feature presentation was about to begin. The shushing, however, had come entirely too late for the fellow behind Kate and me. The huffing and sighing became quite a distraction as the story on the screen was being told. The huffing soon graduated to a “PLEASE be QUIET!” through gritted teeth directed toward the children in the back.

Now here’s the thing, I’m often a high-strung gal who is terribly oversensitive to what I deem unnecessary noise. Tap your fingers on the dinner table, I’m all over your case. Whistle while you work or really, while you do anything, I’m your worst nightmare. Chew potato chips with an open mouth, you are my sworn enemy…I promise. HOWEVER the children in the back were NOT loud enough to be distracting.  

What happened next only served to add some comedy to the situation. Sir Cranky rose from his seat and with a determined gait marched down the steps and out the door of the theater only to return after a few minutes with a similar stride. Ten minutes later a theater worker entered the room and stood quietly to the side, listening for the Great and Terrible Ruckus that must have been described to him by Mr. Pants. It just so happened that the movie had taken an adventuresome turn and the youngsters were paying close attention and were as quiet as they’d been during the whole show.

The presence of the theater employee seemed to make the rest of us feel like we should be extra quiet so that we were not accused of excessive noise-making. Kate stayed frozen in her seat, eyes never leaving the room monitor, completely disengaged with the movie. Eventually the worker left and as you’d expect, the kids in the back got squirmy once more. The huffing and commenting from Cranky resumed behind us. 

I’d been having a difficult time getting into the movie and things weren’t getting any better there in the dark so I turned my attention to the argument that I was having in my head with Cranky Pants. I don’t know about your skills, but I am QUEEN of the mental argument. I can joust and perry with the best of them…in my head. Usually all of this internal arguing comes to nothing and proves to be a supreme waste of my time and energy but today as I sat there, energy provided by a large box of Mike n Ike’s and nothing but time, I indulged…

“Really Cranko…you came to a children’s movie about a dragon that can fly and than acts like a puppy, who exactly did you think you’d be sharing the theater with?”

“Mr. Pants, if you’d get over yourself and pay attention to this movie, the noise of the kids would not seem so loud…believe me…I cannot even hear them…BUT that could be because of all the noise and commotion YOU are creating in my ear.”

“Sir, an entire 36 rows of seats exists in front of me. Perhaps moving forward in the theater would put some distance between you and your current obsession AND the screen will seem so much bigger than those five year olds back there.”

“Please look at your watch, it is 3:00 pm again, who did you expect to find in the theater at this hour?”

And on and on I went, pressure building in my gut with each witty remark.

Finally, suffering from too much candy, popcorn, and soda intake Kate said, “Mom, I’d like to go. My stomach hurts and I’ve sorta lost the focus of the plot anyway.” So, we gathered our things and left the theater. Kate making quick tracks for the ladies room and me more than a few steps behind her when I heard from behind me…

“Hey! Weren’t you just in that movie?” 

I turned to see Cranky standing in the otherwise empty hallway looking at me. 

“Yes,” I answered amazed that for once in my life all of my mental argument prep work was finally going to pay off. I had my chance! Here he was smiling at me unsuspecting.

Here is what I wish had happened…

“Yes, I was in the movie.”

“Those kids are driving me nuts in there! Will you come to the theater manager with me to complain?”

“Sure, let me do all the talking this time.”

“Ok!” he would say, happy to have a like minded patron of the arts on his side.

Approaching the theater manager I step forward and explain that ever since the beginning of the movie there has been an annoying disturbance behind me. 

“Really, ma’am?” the manager would say, “what have the offending parties been doing?”

“Well,” I’d say pointing with my thumb, “this guy right here has been huffing and puffing and complaining and fussing at the kids who’ve come with their weary keepers to see a CHILDREN’S movie. The kids are not being silent, they are however being reasonable, unlike Mr…what did you say your name was? Anyway, I told this fella I’d come to you and lodge my complaint. Have a nice afternoon.”

What really happened…

“Hey you just left that movie right?”

“Yes. My daughter is not feeling well,” I answer pointing in the direction of the restrooms and taking a step in the same direction.

“Oh, ok,” he said and started back into the theater and then stopped unable to let his matter rest. He thought I’d left because I was as irritated at the children as he. 

“Those KIDS in there! They are driving me crazy!” he said shaking his head as if to rid it of preschool chatter.

I smiled and nodded. “Well,” I said “you are watching a children’s movie.” 
His head bent down slightly, more in disappointment over my lack of agreement with his case and less in embarrassment over his own actions, “And, it is a 2:30 movie,” I continued.

“You’re right I guess,” said a deflated Mr. Cranky Pants as he turned and, I imagine, resumed his spot in his theater of misery while Kate and I headed for home.

There are SO many lessons to take from this but I think the one I’m going to ponder most is this: if I am the only one bothered by a situation and I can’t get anyone else to see things from my point of view then it could very well be that the problem is not with everyone else but instead with me. 

As previously stated, I can get hung up on some pretty crazy things (but please STILL don’t crunch your Doritos in my presence…kidding, sorta) and maybe what irritates is a real issue but probably it is not of vital import. However, my focusing on any issue to the exclusion of reason puts me on the side of Mr. Cranky Pants himself and NOBODY has ever been blessed by Cranky! In fact, my focus on the minor matter will eventually make its mark on everyone else in my theater and will blanket the room with stress and angst and will extinguish every ounce of fun and happiness. Kate and I watched that happen today and it wasn’t pretty, it was pitiful. 

Down with Cranky and ...





Both cranky ...

...and joy 

...are contagious.

Which will you be spreading?

{Choose JOY!}


Jeremiah Nichols said...

This is the best. I am also a enemy of all things noise when it comes to food and movies. You can ask Darlene, if anyone comes within 3 feet of me and a bag of chips, we are going to have problems.

Becky said...

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

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