I was too young to really be involved in the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s.
If I had been older, you can bet that I would have…well, not participated in the marches exactly, because there was, you know, all that walking…but I certainly would have been rooting the marchers on.
That’s because I have always believed that every American should be treated as equal, except for morons who annoy my wife and me.
Unfortunately, that is exactly the type of person we ran into last night.
There we were in a pretty full movie theater, minding our own business, when, during the film, the person sitting next to my lovely, mild-mannered bride began to obsessively use her cell phone.
She wasn’t talking on it, but she was madly scrolling, and she had inadvertently wandered into the territory of one of our pet peeves.
You see, we enjoy watching movies in the dark.
So my wife Barbara politely asked the woman to stop doing whatever she was doing with the phone, but the woman kept doing it, and angry looks were exchanged.
Meanwhile, about halfway through the movie, I realized that my cell phone had somehow slipped out of my pocket, and so I was a bit distracted during the second half, moving my feet around on the floor by my seat trying to find it without kicking it into the next row.
Anyway, as movies often do, this one eventually ended. And that’s when the altercation began.
The woman, and the woman next to her, started berating Barbara for her insistence on maintaining venue etiquette, and my wife defended her actions in a calm, but increasing shrill manner.
I was prepared to stand up for my wife at all costs, but, at the moment, I was on my knees, under my seat, feeling around for my phone.
Now let me pause in my tale for a moment, because this would be an excellent time to reveal that the two women who were yelling at my wife were not only stupid Americans, they were also African-Americans. And the movie we had just seen was Selma.
Yes, that is correct. This woman had spent much of a movie which depicts the struggles of black people who fought–and died–for their rights nonchalantly texting away on her smart phone, or whatever the hell she was doing.
But that’s okay. Clearly, one of the rights Dr. King was fighting for was for people of all races and creeds to be able to ignore anything of historical or cultural value. But I’m sure that even he would agree that no one should have the right to use a cell phone during a movie.
So, to continue my account, there I was on the popcorn-greased theater floor while these two women yelled at my wife in what was beginning to sound like an excerpt from The Jerry Springer Show (which is actually taped just a few blocks away from this theater). And then I heard one of the women say something that I could just not believe.
In a near-hysterical voice reminiscent of every fat black aunt in every 80’s black sitcom, the older of the two women (who was the mother of the cell phone lady) screamed, “Oh, and you think white is right!”
And that is when I just had to jump into action. Yes, me: too young to march from Selma to Montgomery; too young to have anything but a vague memory of James Meredith on the steps of the University of Mississippi; too white to have participated in the Million Man March, now leaped into the fray of racial injustice in America.
I stood up tall next to my wife (because I had found my phone) and said, “Really?”
What I meant to say was, “Really? You’re playing the race card? This isn’t about you being black, it’s about you being rude. How dare you raise your voice to my wife who was simply seeking a bit of darkness in which to enjoy the movie, and allow me to clarify that, by ‘darkness’ I mean the absence of light. You women are (and I’m going to use the n-word) nincompoops!”
Unfortunately, I was so incredulous at her statement, I had lost all ability to articulate, and was only able to say “Really?”
But I said it pretty loudly.
See you soon. And happy Martin Luther King Day.