Many moons ago, I endured the public humiliation of getting kicked out of a movie theater. For giggling. The offense, shared with my cousin, occurred in the old Arizona Theater on Tucson’s south side.
I don’t remember how old I was but I couldn’t have been any older than 8 because I know the theater burned down a couple of months before I turned 9.
Anyway, for some unknown reason, my cousin and I fell prone to a fit of giggling as only young girls can do. Obviously, the movie itself was not a comedy. Perhaps it was one of those Old Testament spectacles that seemed to thunder across the screen every 18 months or so back then.
At any rate, the usher – remember them? – unceremoniously yanked us out of our seats and escorted us to the front door. Never even offered to refund us our dime admission.
Naturally, we couldn’t make an early return to our home just a few blocks away. (If only the theater had caught on fire that day.) So we wandered around in the nearby desert until we felt it was safe to go home.
My mother was never the wiser. The same can’t be said for another little scrape that same cousin and I got into at a museum in Los Angeles, where we were visiting my mother’s sister (and my cousin’s mother).
Thoroughly bored, we decided to stomp up and down the marble steps between the floors of the museum. After a flight or two of this, a guard stopped us and gave us a proper dressing down – something my mother witnessed from the next flight up. Naturally, she piled on where the guard had left off.
Scarred that I became because of those two incidents, I have tried to be polite in public. I have, as they say, Learned My Lesson.
The same, alas, cannot be said for the rest of us. We yell obscenities at the ballpark. And we yack it up on our cellphones in restaurants, on planes and trains, and even in restrooms. (I keep waiting to hear a satisfying splash.)
We also tend to be bolder and louder in groups. Witness the incident some time ago when members of a California book club were removed from a train during a Napa Valley wine tour, supposedly because other passengers had complained that they were being too loud. Ten of the all-women group were black, one was white.
Before long, charges of racism were raised, along with the hashtag, #LaughingWhileBlack. Television appearances quickly followed. Soon after, the women, who were all given a full refund, received an apology from the company.
It was a humiliating incident for all these women and it’s deplorable if racism was the cause for their eviction. Others, however, do seem to get unruly on that train, with the company admitting it has to evict passengers about once a month.
Imagine, people who drink sometimes get loud and obnoxious.
We were on the receiving end of that a few weeks ago when seven of us went out to dinner at a local restaurant. It was a Saturday night and the place was crowded. We were seated next to a table of about 10 women—all skinny blondes—who had been there for some time, eating and drinking.
The longer the evening wore on, the louder they became, laughing uproariously. Naturally, conversation at our table was impossible. Some of us grew bold enough to turn around and throw the group our best dirty looks. A couple of us even beseeched them to tone it down – to no avail.
We even implored our waiter to speak to them on our behalf. He might as well have been a gnat buzzing around. Only upon their departure, about an hour after our arrival, did we gain some relief.
I’m sure none of these women had any idea how they had ruined our dinner – let alone thought of posting the hashtag #LaughingWhileBuzzed.