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The Day I Went to the Movies with Mom
by Nathan Reece

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The very address.

The very address.
This will be the only column I have posted before Mother's Day, so I thought I'd share a pleasant story.

The day was Monday, May 18th. It was a week and a day after Mother's Day in 2010. And I was right at the end of my first year back at UNCG, having returned there in the summer of 2009 to complete the last two years of my four year degree.

All I knew about the next day was that I was going to see Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper in Charlotte, which - for my personal tastes - promised to be an awesome show. However, a Monday text from my Mom added a new spin to that next day.

She said she'd seen (I'm still not sure where) that the Carousel theater - which was pretty much right down the street from the place my brother and I lived in Greensboro - was going to be showing TOOTSIE on Tuesday at 2:25 pm. Tickets only cost four dollars each, and popcorn and a drink (I'm pretty sure) were thrown in with the price of the ticket. So she asked in the text if my brother and I wanted to go.

Well I always really liked that movie, but it had been a few years since I'd seen it. I'm always up for going to see a movie, particularly one that I've always liked a lot, that I hadn't seen in a long time, and that could be seen at a theater so inexpensively. Besides, it had been a long time since my brother and I had gone to see a movie with Mom at the theatre, just the three of us.

So I told my brother about the text and asked him if he wanted to go. He said sure. It was a perfect thing to do, because my only summer class would be over by that point in the day, plus I didn't have a job. He also didn't have anything to do during the day at that point. Mom was a recently retired teacher, who'd been "subbing" whenever she could. That day, however, she had off, because it was the beginning of the summer. And I thought it was so sweet that she asked us to go see this, a movie I remember seeing in the theater with her and Dad when I was about five (it's possible they brought my brother along at the age of two, but I don't remember, and I'm sure he doesn't).

Anyway, on Tuesday, when I woke up I saw another text from her that had been sent the night before at 10:21 pm.

[Side note: it's great that I'm able to have these exact days and times, huh? I keep movie tickets, and I still have the following text in my old phone from May 18, 2010. Helps the story along.]

In this text, she said "Oops do you still want to go see tootsie if not i am goin to get my hair done." Another sweet aspect of this story, by the way, is that Mom had just started texting at that point, so she was still learning - already pretty adept at it, she's even better at it these days.

So, seeing as how I have a terrible habit of (a) having the sound turned down on my phone, (b) having it turned off because it's
The very theatre.

The very theatre.
charging, and/or (c) being asleep, I'm sure it's easy for you to see how I didn't manage to get this text until the next day.

The point is: Of course I still wanted to go see TOOTSIE! I wrote her back and told her so, giving my brother's confirmation as well. She said she would be by to pick us up around quarter after two.

So I'm thinking, along with the concert that night, this should be a pretty awesome day! And it so was, although my brother's absence from one event and inclusion in the other was unexpected. It's good to have twists in your plans though, isn't it?

My brother decided to take a nap before the movie. So as Mom was just about there, I tried to wake him up. When he's sleeping, he can be very difficult to wake up, and this time - as has been the case many other times - I was unable to do so. I tried it again. "Nuh, uv seenut." was his response, if I remember correctly. He wasn't going to awaken. "Nuh, uv seenut!" It was hopeless. Oh well. Just me and Mom!

Mom got there and pulled up in the driveway (actually more like the grass between our driveway and the one belonging to the people on the other side of our duplex). I went out and got in her car, then told her my brother wasn't going to make it, along with why and so forth. She was disappointed he couldn't go, but realized it would be fun just the same.

This was really special to me already, because until this day, I don't think I'd ever gone to see a movie with my mom, just me and her. When I was little, it was usually Dad that took me to movies, and then me and my brother to movies once he got old enough. There had been several times we'd all gone to the movies, and a few when Mom took me and my brother, but never one - to my recollection - when it was just me and Mom.

So we got to the theater and parked. When we got out, we saw something that neither one of us could quite believe. A bus had pulled up in front of the theater, and out of it came a group of nursing home patients and a few caretakers. Apparently they were being given a treat by being taken to this movie, which is a really sweet thought, but at the time both Mom and I found it pretty funny.

We got inside the theater, then went up to the concession stand and got our popcorns and drinks (Mom later gave me the rest of her popcorn when she was finished with it). When we were walking towards the entranceway to the theater area, Mom spilled a piece of popcorn on the floor. She said "I better go pick that up." "They have people that'll do that, Mom." I believe I remember saying. But she walked over and picked it up anyway, then went and put it in the trash can. That's my mom.

We walked in, and to our astonishment, there was nobody else in the theater except for us and the group of nursing home patients, except for their
The very movie.

The very movie.
caretakers, who were tending to them.

The movie started, and of course, it's a classic and deservedly so. Every so often during the movie, we'd exchange a few words. For example, when Bill Murray appeared in the first scene, I asked her if she remembered he was in the movie (She didn't). And halfway through the movie, when it started playing, we both agreed that we loved the movie's theme song, "It Might Be You."

By the end of the movie, during which we laughed much and had a most awesome time, I was surprised - even though I remembered the ending of the movie being emotional - how emotional I found it. It just struck me as so open and honest, especially for a comedy.

When the credits started rolling, I had to catch myself, and I told Mom, in a humorous way that indicated I was shocked by the realization (maybe even a little Bill Murray-ish myself), "I almost started crying." After a few more seconds, I said "Boy, they don't..." and I didn't even have to finish the sentence! (I was going to say "...make 'em like that anymore," and somehow she knew that, which I found amazing). She said "I know. You're right." Then she asked me if Dustin Hoffman won for it (meaning the Academy Award). I said that he didn't, but that Jessica Lange did, and she said that didn't surprise her.

Then the credits ended, and she reminded me that I'd better get going if I wanted to make the concert that night, so we left.

She dropped me off back at the place, after I'd told her what a good time I had, and she'd concurred. My brother was awake by that point, and seeing as how he had to deliver a piece of musical equipment he'd sold to someone in Charlotte, he agreed to go to the show there with me. Joy! And of course, the show was badass.

So overall it was one of the best days I've ever had. And in regards to the viewing of TOOTSIE with my Mom, I sometimes wonder: What made that as resonant to me as it ended up being? I think back on that experience as having sort of a magical quality to it.

First of all, there was the fact that it was just me and Mom, going to see the movie together, which I believe was a first. Then there's the fact that it's a classic, extraordinary film anyway. Plus the crowd of nursing home residents being there almost made it seem like something from a movie in and of itself (one by Fellini maybe?).

And in general, the fact that it all randomly fell into place made it seem sort of perfect to me. She just happened to see somewhere that the Carousel was showing the movie that day, we both just happened to have those hours available, and we both wanted to see it. My mom had never contacted me with the idea of going to see an old movie. My brother and myself being so close by, since we were now living in Greensboro, was of course a factor. Yet
A special showing for a special occasion.

A special showing for a special occasion.
still, it was an unusual request for her, and one I was happy to oblige.

So us sitting there, watching this movie together - that we'd both been to see together when I was a child - in the presence of this bizarre group of nursing home patients - somehow had this magical feeling to it. I think back on it with much nostalgia and great feeling; and I remind her of it from time to time. It's one of my favorite times ever going to see a movie, in a life that's been full of them so far, and one of the great times I had (that I'll always remember) during the two years I lived in Greensboro.

I sent texts to her in the days that followed, telling her how much the day had meant to me, and she wrote back, saying how it was really special to her too. On the Friday of that week, I posted a carefully picked Youtube video on her Facebook page (I was still on Facebook then): a montage of TOOTSIE clips playing to "It Might Be You," with the message "Happy Late Mother's Day, Mom! I love ya!!!" (Pretty sweet of me, huh?).

Later that summer, when my family was having dinner one night, we were all discussing the prices of tickets these days. My mom said to me: "I believe we got the best deal in town when we went to see TOOTSIE." And I told her I thought she was right!

Even later in the summer, for my birthday, one of the things she gave me was a 25th Anniversary DVD of the movie. After I opened it, she told my brother and Dad "That movie has a special memory for me and Nathan. Me and Nathan and the old people!" And my brother was quick to remind her that I often talk about that being one of my favorite days ever.

I watched it a few times after I got it, with my brother and then with my brother and his girlfriend ("Good movie!" she said after the three of us watched it). The next year, right before Mother's Day, I ordered a specialty license plate frame for Mom that has I'D RATHER BE WATCHING TOOTSIE! on it, and she's kept it in her car ever since.

Strangely, I've felt ever since we saw it in the theatre that day, even though we were already really close, that the experience somehow brought me and Mom closer together.

We had another movie-going experience together, me and Mom, when THE MUPPETS was released this past Thanksgiving. That was really special too. I hope we have more in the future.

TOOTSIE is in my top ten favorite movies, and I can't imagine someone who's seen it not understanding why (mentioning it in my list of faves brought a smile to the face of my Film Production professor, on the first day of class during the Fall 2010 semester). I still remember, vaguely, seeing it when I was little at the Cinema Twin in Asheboro. That memory has a certain glow around it. My memory of the time I saw it at the Carousel in Greensboro, two years ago this May 19th, glows brighter.

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May 15, 2012 11:19 AM
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I wrote an homage column about Tootsie recently. It celebrates its 30th birthday this year. I have so many memories surrounding my childhood sitting in the darkened recesses of the Mayfair Theatre in West New York, NJ way back when. Thanks,

May 15, 2012 6:12 PM
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Thanks for the comment, Jon. I read your Tootsie column too, and I liked it. Just goes to show how good the movie is that it's inspired two Matchflick columns already! Cool that you have those memories: if you're a big fan, moviegoing experiences can be some of the most memorable. L8r.

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This is an outlet granted to me by the makers, in which I will espouse grand words, unleashing in written form the very movie-related praise and outrage I'm probably thinking about and/or discussing at the time anyway.

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Other columns by Nathan Reece:

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The Night He Came Home

The Scariest Movie I've Ever Seen

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Nathan Reece
I was born in a log cabin that was built in a sewer. After serving during wartime, I woke up from this vicious dream and learned to tapdance.
It's a commendable trade, but not a recommendable one. As I've said many a time, on one hand, I have five fingers. Yet on the other hand, I have
five fingers. Sometimes I sleep. I would probably watch more sumo wrestling if it was on TV more often. The first movie I saw at the theater was Superman
II...the last was The Terror, and this much is true. Far be it from me to call myself stupid, but if I did so (and believe me, I would), I'd say it behind
my back. Then I would figure out how I did it. Sometimes I sleep. Love, Nate.

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