Last week we took an afternoon off from the mayhem to go to a movie. Lincoln, to be precise. It is hard for me to sit in a theater for long periods of time. Similar to airplane seats, theater seats are designed more for a show of comfort rather than comfort itself. After two hours, no matter how much 500 calorie a bite buttered popcorn I consume to take my mind off of it, the squirming commences. Before long I look like a worm snared in a bird’s beak. Nature did not provide me with a great deal of padding in the posterior regions of my body, a trait running through my mother’s side of the family tree. Perhaps I need to invest in inflatable drawers for such situations.
Lincoln, I thought, was very well done. The director avoided puffing it up with Hollywood glitz, rather depicting the characters and their surroundings as I imagine they might have appeared during that period of our history. Long, however, very long. After the second hour the squirming became so pronounced I caught my other half scanning the theater for open seats. I forgot, even after reminded, to turn off my cell phone. Experts in the psychological sciences say people never “forget” to do anything, but I find I often do in spite of them saying so.
Luck not being one of my strong suits, my phone waited to ring until a lull in the action. At first blast my other half, not a fan of public scenes, began squirming himself. Rifling through my enormous bag, I located the half a peanut butter and banana sandwich left over from lunch the day before, mummified remains of a throat lozenge, and the carcass of a dead sea lion (just wanted to see if you were awake), but no cell phone. Reaching the required ring amount, my phone took over and redirected the call to voicemail. Moments later during a particularly poignant scene my bag announced loudly “voicemail received”. As often happens when one person yawns another will, my ringing phone became contagious. Several other phones woke in the darkness and a background symphony of ringtones began. Perhaps we’d started a new phenomenon, like flash mobs with phones? Men could be heard grumbling as women either answered, really bad behavior, or searched for their phones.
Even though movies can be downloaded or ordered at a click of the remote, I like to see them on the big screen on occasion. There was a time when I couldn’t walk in a darkened theater, much less sit down. Not due to my lack of padding, but deeper issues. Problems began after moving across country from Longview, Washington to Ashdown, Arkansas. We were four on the road, two vehicles, my other half in his truck and me and one small dog and a very old and very ornery cat in our car. From the beginning the trip was fraught with problems. In Utah we experienced incredible electrical storms, my brakes began to fail as I descended the steep downgrades crossing the Continental Divide, and two flat tires were changed during that trip, one on top of a mountainside in the pitch black of night and the other on a desolate stretch of highway crossing the Great Salt Flats. When all else failed to aggravate we could rely on our constant companion on the road, the unrelenting heat holding the midsection of the country captive that year.
Ashdown, as it turned out, was a small rural town 45 minutes north of Texarkana, largely supported by a lumber mill. Stepping out of the car I was captured by the oppressive heat and humidity, ripe smells, and overabundance of insect life buzzing around my head. To me it was like exploring the dark side of the moon. A pungent smell lingered over the town. Later I was told it was attributed to the aromatic marriage of chemicals used to treat the paper pulp comingling with the mulchy undergrowth of the prolific flora of the area kept moist by daily bursts of rain.
For the first several weeks I went about the business of settling in. As the stack of boxes dwindled in the spare room and the house began to take the look of home, I struggled to find my footing in my unfamiliar surroundings. Left to my own devices during the day, as my husband’s name was on the employee roster at the mill, I took out my pencils and drawing paper and began a body of work when it comes to my artistry I’ve never equaled since. Perhaps it was being stuck inside, or the peace of the small town but I found the days passing quickly and my pencil whipping across the page in front of me.
At the end of the second month with fall on the horizon, I decided to look for work. Texarkana, the nearest “big city” seemed the obvious choice to shop for work attire. While in town, I was tasked with picking up some wine for dinner, as Ashdown was “dry”. Being dry did not guarantee the inhabitants were, they simply had to travel a little further upstream to get whet. It was an unusual setup, Texarkana, as it rested on the border between Arkansas and Texas. This was marked by State Line Boulevard which divided the city in half. On the east, the Arkansas side, it was wet, but if you crossed the street to the Texas side it was dry. Very odd.
At any rate, I referred to a page torn from the yellow pages and my map. After several wrong turns I located the mall. Cool inside, I browsed for a while. After selecting several items to try on the sales clerk directed me to a fitting room. room. Having removed my pants and with the store’s pants in my hand, the lights flickered, then went out. “Power outage”, I heard in a distinctly southern voice. Dark circled around me. In a total panic the walls suddenly felt suffocating. Half dressed I exploded out of the dressing room unable to grab a breath. Using the clothing racks for balance, I hopped along managing to drag my pants up and zip them. Reaching the dimly lit middle aisle my mouth gaped like a wide mouthed bass floundering in the back of a fishing boat. I sprinted for an exit. Once outside, my heartbeat slowed to a tolerable level, and eventually my breathing returned. For two years following the incident, being enclosed anywhere caused the same fight or flight syndrome in me. At Costco I had to stand by the door while shopping to assure I knew where the exit was. After flying across country and nearly strapping on a parachute and bailing out, I consulted a doctor. Diagnosis, panic attacks. For those of you who have experienced anxiety attacks you will recognize these symptoms. Thankfully I put these behind me a decade ago and I’m back to being as normal as I get. Still, every time I walk into a dark theater, I have a moment where my heart rate accelerates, and then it passes as just that.
In closing, Kendall at See Further has been kind enough to include my name of a list of nominees for Most Illuminating Blogger Award. I will reciprocate as soon as I can. Please take time to visit the site if you get a minute.
Cheesy Onion Garlic Bread
1 loaf of frozen bread dough
3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup thinly sliced onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/8 cup sliced black olives
4 oz. sundried tomatoes packed in oil
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
To thaw bread dough, place in microwave on defrost for 2 mins. Cover and let rest for 30 mins.
Cover a large cookie sheet with tin foil. Spray with cooking spray. Using your hands spread dough until you form a large rectangle.
In large skillet melt butter over med. heat. Saute 6-8 mins. until onions are translucent. Add garlic and Italian seasoning and continue cooking 2 mins. Remove from heat.
Spread garlic and onion mixture evenly over bread dough. Top with black olives and sundried tomatoes. Cover with cheddar cheese and top with parmesan. Bake for 15-20 mins. or until golden brown and bubbly.