Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Theater

I was a lowly little peon.

I mopped, served customers and cleaned vomit. I flushed people's toilets when they left their nastiness behind, soaked up soda with paper towels, inhaled caustic chemicals. I did a million degrading jobs in a day. And the pay was crap. It was the best job I've ever had.

No, not because of all those things, in spite of them.

Cinema 4 at HOYTS, Forest Hill Shopping Centre... Home sweet home.As a young woman, my job at the movie theater was the greatest job for so many reasons. The staff and my bosses were great. They were human beings. Even after I rose to upper management, everyone treated me with respect and care, and vise versa. (Some of the kids even came to my brother's funeral, which was so sweet and precious to me.) We worked as a team and we all loved working together. I was good at my job. Even though I despise public relations, I can do it and I'm good at it. I had the operation of all aspects of the building down pact. I knew that when I came to work, no one was better at their job than me. Even though it was just a silly part time second job, it really filled me with pride. (Much more than my previous full time office job, which I found to be so humiliating and degrading.)

But I think a huge part of my love for that simple job was the theater itself. Ever since I was a child, the movies have been a place of happiness and escape. You walk into the cool building and smell the popcorn and find your ideal seat in the high ceilinged room. Put your feet up. Drink your soda. Everything is right in the world.

Even though you were surrounded by strangers, you were safe and alone. In the dark, you could cry as you watch Satine succumb to her illness in her lovers arms, Rhett mourning after the accident or Rick drinking with tears in his eyes while listening to "As Time Goes By". You can scream inside your head, "RUN BITCH!" while Clarice is being watched through the night vision goggles or when Raymond Burr starts off for Jimmy's apartment. You can laugh your ass off as the group of black workers sing "But I get a belt out of yoooou!" to their racist, idiot bosses. You can Singin' in the Rain (1952 )I'm siiiiingin' and dancin'...sit in awe watching Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain. You can scream in shock and horror as the Joker makes the pencil disappear. And if the theater's not too full, you can quietly sing along with Bob and Bing in all the road movies. It sounds super cheesy but it is truly magic! There is no other word for it.

And when everyone had gone home, the lights were up but only a little. The quiet wasn't scary or overwhelming like it usually was for me. It was calming. And it was all there just for me. Not but us few were permitted in those I used to wish I could sleep there... And there were many times I did.

So with all that in one building, for me, it was such a privilege to work in such a place. A magic house where anything could happen up on that giant screen. I would often sneak behind that screen before the show and watch the giant figures move back and forth, the light pooling onto my face. These were stolen moments of perfection, of perfect happiness. Joy. Love.

I still go to 'my' theater. I still get that same old feeling. And I still feel so lucky to have been a part of it all. Sometimes I think that when I've had enough of this rat race, when I'm ready to slow things down to a snails pace in life, I'll go back there. What a way to live.
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