By: Tosha Woronov
My phone rang 15 minutes before I was to leave work to get Leo from his after school tennis lesson. It was my friend, the mother of Leo’s two buddies, asking if, by any chance, although it was such short notice, could Leo spend the night?
On the tennis court I whispered the good news into his sweaty little ear and he squealed. I was happy for him. As a girl, I loved that day-of-the-sleepover feeling, when a thousand trillion hours stretched before my friend and me.
He wasn’t the only one surprised to have a brand new Friday night. Suddenly I didn’t have to plan dinner. I didn’t have to play Wii. Or put someone to bed. I could do whatever I wanted.
The house is too still when he’s not here. I sat on the kitchen floor with the cat and dog for longer than seemed normal. I stared at the open pantry cabinet wondering what to eat. I perused the contacts list on my phone, wondering if I should rally a friend -and rally myself -to go out. I wondered if I should just stay home and get drunk.
At about 10pm, thinking I’d just give up and get a truly good night’s sleep for once, I remembered the film I’d been itching to see by Wes Anderson, my hands-down favorite filmmaker. I jumped in the car wearing a long sweater and something too close to pajamas. There was a showing in twenty minutes.
I hadn’t yet been to this particular theatre and was thrilled to find it one of those tiny neighborhood ones, with a single box office window and only two screens. One girl behind the counter scooping out popcorn. Indie showings. Perfect, I thought. This is just what I need. I don’t know why it pleased me when the box office girl came down from her perch behind the front glass and announced to the popcorn girl “I’m going to go start the film now,” but it did. It made me really happy.
As I settled into my seat I started to really, really miss my husband, my movie-going pal, who’s been away on business for several weeks and who has not been in a theater like this, with me, for years. It’s been only multiplexes and stadium seating, online reservations and Pixar for too too long. We used to spend Friday nights at the New Beverly Cinema, catching thoughtfully paired double features like “Reservoir Dogs” and “Taxi Driver”. We would scan the LA Weekly over the phone, he at his work and me at mine, and make our plans for dinner and a movie. Too often after the film we’d end up driving all the way home in one car, his car, and then remember – Shit! We’d left my car on the street – and laugh/groan as he turned us around.
The trailers made me miss him more. I texted him so. It was good to feel like I did 15 years ago, still craving the artsy films of my 20s, but to be now in this place –a mom, his wife.
I was so blissed out I forgot until the opening shot what I was about to see. Because I love Anderson’s films so much, I actually didn’t have high hopes for this one. I tend to do that, to believe that genius is not infinite, and should not be expected to be. That would be selfish. Greedy.
Well, it was better than all of them. My favorite. How is that possible? An unexpected chance to go to the movies by myself, and it ends up being this special?
I got in the car feeling very lucky. For all of it – the kid, the husband, the friends who wanted my son to stay the night in their home, the freedom of a night to myself, the filmmaker who made me feel so human, so connected.
As I rounded the curve of the freeway on-ramp toward home, tall trees gave way to reveal a three-quarter golden-hued moon. I gasped. I actually said out loud “You have got to be kidding me.”
Because it was impossible, this amber moon rising over the kingdom of Los Angeles, telling me yes, it’s true, it’s all for real.