Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Texas Theater

The Texas Theater sells t-shirts. They're right there in the glass cases along with all the boxes of candy. And if you wore one, you might mean to celebrate the current Texas Theaterits local film festival and its swank retro bar in the lobby and its showing of Animal House next month followed by a real live toga party. It's certainly a place worth celebrating. It's a big old theater with hard little seats and a balcony, even if the public isn't allowed up there. The inside is white stucco and giant paintings of old movie posters high on the foyer walls. A projector in the lobby flickers away, flanked on the floor by red velvet couches low to the ground, the projector screening bits of a film you didn't come to see on the white stucco walls left blank. The whole thing is marvelous: old and a bit glamorous, stocked with a Ms. Pacman table game and the Robocop arcade game to keep you busy, you who remember when they were new.

I especially like the Robocop arcade game. I like the little pixelated super cop stomping around a city that was meant to be Detroit in the film but was actually shot in Dallas. I like that the reason I can drop in on a Monday night to see the new Star Trek movie is because half a dozen preservation efforts brought it back it turn from infamy and bankruptcy and fire and abandonment. But I can't make sense of the t-shirts, of what it means to wear the iconic marquee on your chest, to advertise that beautiful sign like it looks now, like it looked when it opened in 1931, like it looked fifty years ago on that Friday afternoon when Lee Harvey Oswald slipped inside without ever buying a ticket.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

I was standing at the intersection, in the bit of shade cast by the thick pole that holds up the traffic signals, waiting to cross south and walk the last block home, when the men traveling west in the crosswalk approached me. One was tall with light skin and a baseball cap, the other was my height and dark skinned and wore magnificent green socks pulled up high as if trying to reach the green patterned shirt they matched. It was the man with green socks who said hello. I said hello to him, and he said, "You look like you must be sixteen, seventeen years old." Being twice that age, I started to say, "And you look like you must be a liar," and then edited in my head to, "And you look like a man who needs glasses," but thought better of it altogether and said nothing at all. I laughed, though, and the man with green socks continued as he stepped onto my curb. "Are you a mother? Happy Mother's Day, if you're a mother."

I wondered whether his second salvo was a kind of course correction, an admission of sorts that his first remark was so obviously, so necessarily, so patently untrueor if it was possible he might really believe in both my adolescence and my maternity. Texas is, after all, third in the nation for highest teen pregnancy rates. The Dallas Morning News tells me 2% of texas high schools skip sex education altogether and 94% are content with an abstinence-only curricula. Which is to say, only in Mississippi or Alabama might I be slightly more likely to have an encounter like the one at this intersection.

This was on Monday. People I didn't know had started wishing me a Happy Mother's Day the Thursday prior, and for all I know it will continue on tomorrow. I was once trying to catch a bus out of Dublin, and at first the schedules were off because of Good Friday. Then it had to do with what the clerk at the depot called Easter Saturday, followed by the well known Easter Sunday and the lesser known bank holiday Easter Monday. And then, so help me, I showed up on Tuesday and the Clerk shook his head. There would be no service to Belfast, he informed me, on account of Easter Tuesday. So maybe Mother's Day in Dallas is a similarly extended holiday. On Sunday a man with sunglasses and a barrel of a torso smiled at as we walked towards each other on the same stretch of sidewalk.

"Happy Mother's Day," he purred.
"Happy Mother's Day to you," I replied, and really meant it.
"I'm not a mother!" he corrected me.
"Neither am I," I pointed out.

So maybe we're not just a city that extendo-celebrates Mother's Day. Maybe we're just a town with a serious appreciation of mothers. I like to think that, that we're of concentration of appreciative folks whose mothers raised us right. Or maybe, should I ever be walking in the same direction as my interlocutor, there will be time to follow up the question, "Are you a mother?" with something along the lines of, "Would you like to be?"