Sunday, October 15, 2017

Terror Dome

On Friday, we took the class to see a movie.

We go see one every month. It's usually pretty terrible.

This time, however, we went to a horror movie.

People screamed at the screen for ninety minutes. They yelled advice, criticism, even threats.

Students leapt out of their seats like they were at a baseball game and something good just happened. What that would be I don't know, because I hate baseball and have willed myself to stay completely ignorant of its mechanics.

I imagine it involves balls, but I am only inferring that from its title.

I am really good at inferring things.

Like if I walk into a room and people begin to gag, I infer that I smell.

The problem with my inferences is that they are very subjective, so when I infer, I always infer conclusions that involve me somehow.

Do you walk into a room and immediately think everyone is talking about how good-looking you are, sighing and murmuring what a man?

Ha ha. Me neither. Unless my wife is the only person in the room, then I know everyone is thinking it, me and her.

You've probably noticed over the years that many of the things I talk about are predicated on me entering a room with people in it. That's because I often do that, since I am late to almost everything.

Being late to things is one of my strengths. If I was early, then we would have a few moments to chit-chat, and no one wants that.

When I forget who I am as a person and arrive at one of our inservices too early, I am forced to chat over the long folding tables laden with quiche, danishes and cereal.

At that point, I talk really animatedly about innocuous topics such as the weather or baseball, only to draw attention away from how much food I am grabbing, how quickly I am grabbing it, and how odd it is that I am shoving so much of it into the front pouch of my sweatshirt to save for later.

It's not odd to me, mind you. It's sneaky and wonderful to me to hoard food.

I am just inferring from the scowls on people's faces and mutters from the kitchen staff about how someone is a "selfish lard ass" that my actions aren't going over so well.

Then I scurry away to eat all of the smuggled food by myself.

By the time I get back to the meeting, it is half over. I have a moustache made from whatever the cheese in a cheese danish is, and everyone starts talking about how good-looking I am.

For the horror movie, I was made to sit by Bimwe.

Not because we are good friends or anything. Bimwe, a short, stocky Nigerian girl with Down Syndrome, doesn't really like me for some reason.

It could be because she has seen me raid the snack cupboard for the Teddy Grahams, which are her snack of choice. When you must compete for food with others, you begin to hate them. That is why my children and I are enemies.

I am made to sit next to her because I am the biggest. 

Bimwe has a bad habit of screaming in the middle of a movie and running out of the theater as fast as her squat little legs can carry her. Not because she is scared; she has run out of some pretty harmless films, such as Hidden Figures and Race: The Jesse Owens Story. She screams and runs because she has grown bored. Or because she found the Jesse Owens story very inspiring.

In special education, its best to not get too attached to your identity as a person. Be prepared to be thought of as "the warm body that makes the lunches", "the warm body that waits here with the students while the important people do the grown up things" or "the warm body that wipes the butts."

For this movie, I was "the big warm body at the end of the aisle blocking in Bimwe".

She did not try to flee, however. Instead, she made observations about the film to me in her hushed, slightly accented English.

While Bimwe sat calmly, hands folded in her lap, the rest of the students went completely bananas.

JJ especially seemed to enjoy it. 

He started laughing hysterically about four minutes or so after the opening credits, and did not stop until the lights came back on and people stood up, stretched, and filed out of the theater.

Because he is nearly blind, JJ uses an Assistive Listening Device when he goes to the movies. He puts on headphones and a narrator describes what is happening on the screen.
He was wiping tears from his eyes, still smiling, as I took the ALD off of him.

"That lady talked to me through the whole movie," he said, pointing at the headphones. "Put'em on, Brob; she'll say something to you too."

Looking up at the screen, he let out another little giggle.

"Damn, that was the best movie. Best movie I've ever seen."

The theater is across the city from our classroom, and it takes a lot of bus hopping to get there and back.

I usually try to sit next to one of the more unpredictable students for the duration of the ride, but sometimes things are so crowded it's not possible. 

I have to stand suspended from the overhead handles like a defeated gymnast, my butt on the shoulder of some tired looking woman on her way to the Social Security office, my crotch spoiking an elderly Chinese man in the temple with every bump in the road.

JJ is on the other side of him, and I am nervously expecting my student to blast out a string of profanity or a random racial slur at any moment.

But, after looking at the Chinese man, looking away out the window, then back to the man again, basically doing a slow double take fifty times in a row, JJ starts telling him about how great the movie was.

The old guy gives JJ a wide smile, showing brown crooked teeth. He nods and says something very loudly in Chinese.

"Maaaan," JJ says, looking genuinely frustrated. "I don't understand a thing you sayin' to me."

At that, the elderly man began to laugh and vigorously shake his head.

 JJ, always up for a good chuckle, begins laughing too, and the two of them ride for awhile just like that, rocking in their seats and laughing at nothing.

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