I love the Hollywood Bowl. Listening to beautiful music under the stars? Oh yeah. That warrants a top ranking on my “Things That Make Anna Happy” list. Unless I’m listening to beautiful music under the stars after having enjoyed a lovely picnic in the adjoining park. That has a slight edge. Did you know that you can picnic in the middle of Hollywood? You can. Last year I got to see John Williams conduct at the Bowl, and that night seriously ranks as one of my top three favorite moments since moving to LA. (I’m a big believer in listing and ranking things. As our world is going to hell in a hand basket, I find comfort in the illusion of order.) The other two moments? Having Seth MacFarlane sing “Happy Birthday” to me – though he was somewhat coerced into doing it – and seeing Conan in person. What can I say? I’m a sucker for guys who make me laugh. That aside, it doesn’t get much better than seeing hundreds of geeked out Star Wars fans brandishing light sabers and waving them in unison to Darth Vader’s theme music. It was like watching a battery-powered aurora borealis. Just awesome.

Fast forward one year. A very dear friend – to protect her anonymity, I shall refer to her as Kiki – had come into town for a visit. To celebrate, we headed to the Bowl for an evening of Twentieth Century Fox’s greatest film scores. Movie geekdom in all its glory. Yet after a blissfully uninterrupted first hour of musical wonderfulness, we couldn’t help but notice a sound that definitely wasn’t coming from the orchestra pit. No, this hideous noise was emanating from behind us – a noise that I can only imagine is what a moose sounds like when coughing up a furball. A row back, this elderly woman was clearing her throat. Very loudly. And a lot. She just kept going and going and going like a phlegm-ridden Energizer Bunny. It was disgusting. Beyond disgusting, it was disturbing. Beyond disturbing, it was just really, really annoying. So my friend and I carried on as any other indignant ticket holder would have; we groaned and gave each other pained looks every time she did it. Kiki even turned around a few times to make obvious her displeasure, and believe you me, her stare is intimidating enough to make anyone forget her diminutive five-foot-one stature. This chick will take you down to Chinatown. But then she had a change of heart and suggested we offer the woman something to drink. Thing is, this woman’s husband was sitting right next to her. Wouldn’t he do something if she was genuinely in distress? Um, no. He just sat there, completely oblivious to the guinea pig that was dying a slow, painful death inside his wife’s throat. Didn’t bother him.

So I have a question for all the husbands out there. Is this what happens to men after marriage? You develop a X-Men-like ability to block out all sounds your wives make? Because I get it. I acknowledge that we women are most often the more vocal of the two genders, and that sometimes you need us to just shut the hell up, but either we won’t or we can’t. So you adapt to survive. Darwinism in action.

Anyway, my friend and I ultimately decided that this woman had no clue what she was doing. She was a throat clearer just like others are nail biters or knuckle crackers or mouth breathers. (Hate those people.) Yet for all our hypothesizing, Kiki and I never actually said a word to this woman. Why did we refrain? Was it our innate sense of politeness? Our gracious manners? No. We just felt bad because she was old.

And therein lies the rub. We opted to stay quiet because this chick had gray hair and wrinkles. But is that really fair? Isn’t that in its own way a kind of discrimination? Because I’m just gonna get right to the point – old people are getting away with murder nowadays. Literally. Every couple of months I read a story about some geriatric driver that mistook the gas for the brake and crashed into a Wal-Mart or farmers’ market. And if they’re not plowing into people, then they’re taking twenty minutes to cross the street while you wait and wait and wait to finally make that turn. I don’t understand. Why don’t they just get one of those motorized scooters? I see commercials for them all the time – and senior citizens can get them for free! That’s hardly fair. I wouldn’t mind a free scooter. Not only that, but they also get ridiculous discounts at all the very best restaurants like Old Country Buffet, Boston Market and IHOP. And don’t even get me started on the movie theatre discounts. It’s a total abuse of power, this whole old person racket.

Case in point… One day I decide to go see a movie, which is rare because outside of the ArcLight, I hate going to the movies nowadays. It pains me to say that, but alas, it’s true. Too many jackasses. Can’t stand them. They have conversations with their friends. They chat on their cell phones. Or they bring their very loud and very fidgety children with them. Who wouldn’t want to pay $15 for that kind of entertainment? It’s like four shows in one. But sometimes I will chance it on a matinee screening – less people. Ergo, less risk that someone will bother me.

So I enter the theatre. It’s completely empty except for this one dude who, like me, obviously doesn’t want anyone disturbing him. He’s sitting about as far away from the entrance as you can get. Fantastic. I take a seat somewhere in the middle; I am an island unto myself. And then they enter… These three old fogeys who noisily shuffle past me and proceed to sit down just three seats over. Three seats over! They literally had the entire theatre from which to choose, save two occupied seats, but they decide to sit four feet away from me. Great. They continue to chat with each other. Loudly. I assure myself that as long as they shut the hell up by the time the previews are over, everything will be okay. The movie starts. Yet this fact seems to be lost on them because they don’t stop talking. And if possible, they get louder. After five more minutes, I finally get up and politely ask them to pipe down. Their response? One of the women points to her friend and informs me, “She is blind, okay?! So I have to explain everything that’s happening.” I am dumbfounded. If she had told me that Tom Cruise really is straight, I couldn’t have been any more shocked. I ask, “So you’re going to talk throughout the entire movie?” Her unapologetic answer? “Maybe. Just maybe.”

I wish I could say that I marched right over to one of the testosterone challenged teen ushers and asked them to kick out the old biddies. I wish I could say that at the very least I reprimanded them for their unabashed rudeness. No. I totally wimped out. Without another word, I just grabbed my purse and moved as far away from them as I could.

What can I say? I felt bad because they were old. So I guess I’m not just a sucker for guys who make me laugh. I’m just a sucker.

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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One Response to “Get Out Of My Way, Grandma”

My grandma does the same thing. But she has throat cancer..

September 17th, 2010