Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Me Generation

Being a CUNY student, I have unlimited free access to all films showing at the MOMA. Being unemployed, I take advantage of this quite often. MOMA supports film makers from all different stages of their careers- some of the best of the lot, like last night's 'Das Lied in mir' directed by Florian Micoud Cossen, was a final film school project. Unfortunately, the previous eight films I watched there left me wondering if my taste in film was no longer in sync with my budget. Two weekends in a row I viewed international documentaries that sounded very promising- the first, told from the protagonist's perspective, about a woman in South America sold as a child to work as a servant for a middle class family. The first hour of the film featured no dialogue, no music- just straight footage of this woman as an aging servant, toiling through her chores. The camera followed her as she pruned the plum trees, watered the plants, chopped wood. An hour. One hour. I had to stop asking my friend Mel to join me for these viewings, as she no longer trusted any film I showed interest in. So I invited Mike, who hadn't seen me for much of my 'MOMA film marathon' period, so was unaware of potential pitfalls with my film selections. The very long line snaking around the entrance door to the downstairs theatre was a good sign. We found some empty seats, and started settling in. I looked behind me, and realized that the very short man in back of me would never be able to see over my head, so I asked Mike to move down a seat, and I followed. We put our coats and bags on the now empty seat on my left. Within seconds, the elderly lady sitting on the other side of the seat said in a very audible voice, (something all little old ladies seem to possess), 'Don't you think it's rude to put your belongings on one of the seats when the theatre is so crowded?' I looked around to see if I had missed some movie-goer who was looking for an empty seat. Seeing none, I replied, 'It's not a big deal, if someone wants this seat, we can simply take our jackets back.' She was intent on forcing the issue. 'But they'll think someone is sitting there if they see your jackets.' Then she turned to her friends before I could come up with a good answer, and said very loudly, 'It's all about them, the 'Me' Generation.. Me, me, me!' All of a sudden I turned into my grandma Blanche, and was fired up and willing to risk being kicked out of the theatre to stand up to this seat Nazi. 'If someone wants to sit here they're welcome to, I don't know why you're getting so angry.' 'You want to see angry, I'll show you angry!' she said in a huff, and then added quickly, 'Well anyway, I want to sit there!' I smiled triumphantly. 'Well why didn't you just say so in the first place, instead of giving me this big lecture?' I took our stuff off the seat, she moved over next to me. I turned to Mike, my heart pumping from the adrenalin- 'Is this funny? It sounds funny to me, but no one is laughing.' Mike is a therapist by day, and has a penchant for keeping the peace. Since granny was still muttering about me and my selfish ways, and Mike saw my haunches up, he said jovially, 'Am I going to have to sit between you two?' I was thinking it might be a good idea, but then granny sat quietly with her hands on her lap looking straight ahead. All bark and no bite. I was tempted to give her another piece of my mind, but eh. I have been tested by the best of them- irate phone company customers, out of control three year olds, and revenge-seeking stalkers, to name a few. It's hard to take pride in engaging in warfare with someone half your height, but I must say- it really feels good to tell someone, 'You picked the wrong person to act like a lunatic with. Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up.'

4 comments:

Kevin said...

Tamar: I really like this and have had similar experiences with people with different opinions that had an agenda. One think I've observed is there's generally no way you can change their viewpoint, so I generally don't try. They already have their mind made up.

Enjoyed this post.

Kevin

Tamar said...

Hi Kevin,
It's true- I think I represented all the selfish seat-hoggers that came before me to this woman, and she was going to give me a 'what for', as my grandma Blanche used to say :-)

Mike said...

I would not have been deterred by your film losing streak had I known about it, Tamar, because pre-MOMA you've chosen some good ones. And even if we'd watched another whole hour of total boredom, I'm sure we'd have found it terribly funny! Just as I found grannie's Me Generation acusations hysterical, since you are, in fact, an extremely generous person. I hope you don't mind that I did try to defuse the situation with humor. Thought that might ease the tension a bit. After all, we didn't want to be distracted from the excellent movie you picked!

Tamar said...

mike~ that's true, if we can walk out on a boring ACOA meeting, we can do the same for a dull film- life's too precious to not be properly entertained! :-)
Definitely appreciated your 'having my back' with grannie.. wouldn't want to ruin my reputation at MOMA..