Going to the movies

The long holiday weekend was jam packed full of highs and lows.  A few highs included hitting two different beaches, surfing, exploring Huntington Beach and having Duke’s famous Hula Pie, riding bikes in Venice Beach, seeing the Harlem Globe Trotters play, and watching our son make a basket at his rookie basketball tournament! 

And then there were the lows…  Mom “ate it” on her bike, tearing up her palm on the sandy bike path and obtaining a giant, colorful bruise on the hip… but that’s nothing compared to yesterday. 

Yesterday was such a banner day that the story I am about to tell you will be greeted with disbelief- but trust me- it is ALL true!

I thought it might be fun to take the kids up to LA to see a special showing of “Lady and the Tramp” at the old historic El Capitan Theater on Hollywood blvd.  Quick 1 hour drive.  Maybe get some lunch at the Hard Rock and ice cream at Ghiradelli?  Fun mom- right? 

Well, still being relatively new to CA traffic, I had not been warned about “Jamzilla”- the 80 hour closure of I-405 (Our very route, wouldn’t you know it?).  No worries.  I always leave plenty early.  I gave us twice as much time as we had needed, but we were in the car for OVER three hours!  Needless to say, we missed the 1:00 showing, for which I had ordered advance tickets.  But it’s those three hours in the car that I will never forget!

The first hour went pretty smoothly.  Until… One of my three tiny passengers said “I think I am getting car sick”! 

OK.  I can’t use my tethered cell phone on a busy LA freeway, but I CAN lean over to the passenger side floor, dump out the contents of an entire grocery bag filled with snacks, pull out a handful of napkins from the glove compartment and reach back to the third row (where there are no floor mats – because that would just be too EASY to clean up!) and hand the distressed child these supplies.  The other kid jumps up and out of the path of the 10 minute vomit session and is then un-belted in the 2 MPH freeway traffic, scrambling to the other row.  Half of the strawberry smoothie barf made it into the bag- the rest all over the poor thing’s clothes, seat and feet.

Staying calm, as all moms must do, I breathed only through my mouth and rolled down the windows for the remainder of the drive.  Fine.  Kid feels better.  Aside from the smell and clean up that lies ahead, I am still determined to make this trip a success. 

Until… Laughing and making light of the situation and looking forward to a place to pull over or even stop (which there is NONE), the other child cries, “I HAVE to go to the bathroom and I can’t hold it any longer”!

Are you kidding me?!

There is NO place to pull off.  I can’t even change lanes in this traffic, much less exit to go find a potty.  So what’s this resourceful mommy to do?  I hand her a cup. 

Too embarrassed to look out the window to catch any horrified passersby or scolding cop, I keep my eyes straight ahead as she pees into the cup.  Fine.  These things happen.  No big deal.

Until… “Oh no, Mom”! “What now”?! “I spilled the cup”!

Deep breath.  Whisper-count to ten.  Stay calm.  Pat myself on the back for keeping it together.  Mentally choose my new car with clean leather seats (in which no children will be allowed to ride).

It IS what it IS- right?  We pull into the theater parking lot hours after show time and ask for the manager.  This is when the El Capital theater manager Michael Bandy came into my life.  I love you, Michael! 

After explaining our situation, Michael did what any good manager is supposed to do.  He stayed calm, reassured me and exchanged my tickets for great seats at the later showing.  But Michael went a step further.  He let the kids clean up in his restroom; wrote out hand-drawn directions for a better, faster way to get home; recommended a place to eat within walking distance before the next show and then gave me a bucket (with a lid), latex gloves and an industrial-strength cleaning solution/ deodorizer with which to clean up my car. 

When we returned for the show, Michael was there to greet us with a smile.  The kids loved the show, the theater, the history and the overall experience of the El Capitan.  After enjoying treats at the concession stand (because what else should a good mommy give a barfy kid, but popcorn and candy?) we made it home in just under an hour with his directions- and no one threw up!


6 thoughts on “Going to the movies

  1. I love that story, it brought back a vivid memory of something similar I went through, and I hope some day one or both those kids write up there versions of what that three hours in the car must have been like. Here my version of such an instance long ago:

    There were of course those things that revolted, those first pioneering bits that you would fight heaven and hell to avoid ingesting, red beets and lima beans topped my list. But nothing, not anything on earth matches my memory of that first bit of stewed Hominy and Tomato Sauce at St. Ambrose, the memory of which can still makes me retch.

    I only swallowed one tiny spoon full, that one time. Years later I was somewhere in the mid-west to give a speech. Hungry, I walked into a little earthy sidewalk cafe. Sitting down looking at the menu I got the slightest whiff, the unmistakable odor from a moment in time 45 years in my past. What is that? I know that smell, I’m sure I know that smell, I thought. Then the waitress threw open the kitchen door to pick up someone’s order. The odor of it overwhelmed me, it couldn’t be, no one would ever order it, request it, want it! A moment later the swallow bowl with slopping red sauce and supper sized corn kernels passed me by. To the great good fortune of everyone in the cafe, my stomach discreetly informed me what was going on and that the deal was up, it said, “You have ten seconds!” There was still 5 seconds on the clock when I blew out the front door.

    It was one of the nun’s specialties requiring only a pot and a can opener. Some tins of hominy and some tins of tomato sauce boiled to within an inch of Hell for certain putrification. The first and last time it had ever been set in front of me I was able to hold me dignity through the dried corn bread and the canned beans. Then just as I skipped over the main course to the other side of the tray for a taste of the orange Jell-O with some nun’s fancy flare, a few pineapple chunks, the nun on patrol stopped behind my chair. “Finish your lunch before you have that desert.” She didn’t move. Hoping for some intervening miracle I moved slowly. I took my spoon and dabbed it in the red chunky goop. She said, “Hurry up, you are not going to waist God’s food or get up from that chair until you have finished every drop of that gift.” I raised the spoon in the general direction of my mouth but not quiet meeting the target. As I recall my nose got between the spoon and my lips making a rejection much like a professional basketball player would of an opponent’s best shot. The nun was not to be denied, she said, “You will sit hear until you finish all that God has served.” To my added horror I now had the attention of all the students across the table and for a few tables beyond.

    To a six year old it was a convincing argument, it wasn’t the cook, it wasn’t that lady who had ladled it on to my plate. It was God, and everyone watching to see if I could stomach the repulsive stench Gad had put in front of me. You can do it I thought, the spoon dove into the goop with good intent and then with the love of God on my mind I closed my eyes and crammed it in my mouth.

    Now my experience with throwing up had been limited to being sick or having an upset stomach. It was always the same, you knew it was coming, then you really knew it was coming and you bent over the toilet or the trash can your mother somehow appeared with. Even when you didn’t have sufficient warning you still had time to bend over and make your deposit on the floor. That lunch table, with those students surrounding me and the nun behind me, was my first experience with the shot gun method. The event ended with my being unscathed but a few of my classmates had to go find something else to wear and the nun, who actually managed to look regretful said, “ OK Kimmy……….I guess you do not have to eat that.”

  2. You deserve a spa treatment and a “Super Mom” award for all of that!….and hopefully a car with leather seats in the near future.

  3. i can read a book while riding in a car seated backwards without getting car sick (something that i was once told surely brings on car sickness). i have had people who sat near me throw up while on school bus trips and seem to emerge pretty much unscathed. even in my other life, when i drank, i was (almost) always able to make it to the bathroom or outside before upping my cookies. but reading Kimmy’s wonderfully descriptive story (which i had heard before) brought up enough bile in the back of my throat to cause me to delay taking another bite of my Pig’s Knuckles Hero. i’m not sure if it was the disgusting entree itself, the fact that he was forced center stage in that St. Ambrose lunchroom or because it included yet another instance where those damn nuns, who thought themselves demigods, asserted their omnipotence over 6 year olds.

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