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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

My First Movie with Dryver

The First Movie…
A Rainy Saturday in July, 2004

The first full movie that Dryver, (my first son) and I attended together was a blast. Dryver was just 3 ½ years old and had never experienced a full-length motion picture at a ‘real movie theater’. Dryver and I traveled to see Shrek II at the new, very pleasant and large, theater in Alexandria. It was a drizzling gray Saturday around noon and we had initially planned on doing some work in the yard. Due to the off and on rain and muggy hot Washington DC weather Jennifer (my wife) suggested I take the little man to see his first full-length motion picture in the nice cool, and dry, movie theaters. Don’t get me wrong; Dryver has been enjoying full-length Disney, DreamWorks, and Pixar movies at our home since he was just a little infant. Jennifer and I were always astounded by the fact that this little kid that had very slight, if no, attention span would sit still and concentrate at the age of seven months and watch the entire Toy Story movie on DVD, numerous times at one sitting. Dryver and I hesitantly left Stryde (my second son who was 1 ½ at the time) with Jennifer and headed off on our weekend quest.

I informed Dryver that we were going on a ‘Daddy & Dryver Trip’ to go see Shrek II at the life-sized movie theater. It was instantly obvious to me that he had no clue of what he was in for at the movie, and also had absolutely no notion of what a sequel was. He did point out, on our way to the theater that the green light looked like Shrek, he then pointed out that I should ‘Go’ because the light was green. I laughed and remembered the time when Jennifer and I were so worried that this little guy was colorblind. Up until he was almost three every color we asked him to point out was either red or blue.

I did assure him that we would be buying some ‘Treats’ (a.k.a. candy), popcorn and ‘Bubbles’ (a.k.a. Sprite). This promise alone was enough for Dryver to be in a state of bliss about the up coming adventure with his old man. We showed up at the theater front gate, it was a matinee so it was not too busy, and bought our tickets. We rode the escalator up and immediately as we came over the top of the horizon saw the clean and very prominently displayed concession stand. Dryver’s eyes opened up and he had that look of amazement that only presents itself when he is exposed to something new and exciting, such as a cicada coming out of the ground earlier in the summer.

Wow, this is what we were waiting for. Big, no HUGE, buckets of popcorn, gigantic cups of bubbles, and all the treats any kid age 3 ½ would ever want. He walked up to the counter and spent a good amount of time reviewing all of his selections in the somewhat fingerprinted glass candy case. He immediately noted the gummy bears and Reese Peanut Butter Cups as these were in the top class of his normal candy selection set. He reminded me very loudly, being very sure that the nice lady behind the counter and anyone around within ear shot would hear, that I had promised that he could get popcorn, bubbles AND treats. He then informed me that he thought it would be a good idea for him to get ‘two treats, not one!’ I informed him that he was pushing his luck and he might end up with just Popcorn. He instantly backed down. The one thing I have learned with Dryver is he is an excellent negotiator and knows when to press his luck; this was not the time as there was too much at stake.

He paused for a few seconds and then decisively pointed to the gummy bears, we were ready to make our big purchase. Luckily I was closing on a Home Equity loan soon to help pay for this adventure. We began to order, when the nice young black lady behind the counter, probably in high school working at her summer job, caught a look at the cute little blonde kid with a smile bigger than a five-dollar bill and dark blue eyes. She, just as many of the people that think Dryver should be a kid model, was immediately smitten. She quietly informed Dryver that she had a treat for him because he was such as special boy. He looked at me with a look of ‘ah ha, I will get my way, you’ll see’ and also a little fear. We all know Dryver, unlike Stryde, is a little fearful of strangers and heights, and bugs, and.... The nice lady at the counter, her name was Carline, pulled out a special kids pack, which includes a kid sized popcorn, small drink, and special Shrek M&Ms. Dryver almost jumped over the counter to grab it and run but decided the better. He looked up to me with the look of concern that I was going to overrule this nice lady and he was going to end up without the special box. The whole treat box had Shrek charaters all over it and the M&M’s were special Shrek slimy colors. We were sold. Carline threw in a large drink for me and we were on our way. The excitement level was at an all time high. At this point we could sit in the lobby and call it a day. This is what we had come for, or so we thought.

We got into the theater, and Dryver found the seat he wanted. We walked around a little in the dark to adjust our eyes and check out what seating would work best for Dryver. Believe it or not, it was in a prime location, I had expected to be sitting in the first row with a visit to the chiropractor on Monday morning for an adjustment. We had great big captain chair seats that were more comfortable than the chairs we have at home. Dryver was able to position himself into the seat so had pure comfort, while ensuring the cushion did not fold up upon him just to be lost in fluff and pillows. I was sure Dryver was in heaven.

Then the most amazing thing happened, the movie had just started when we walked in and were sitting down. Dryver was immediately in a trance, the kind you see at those hypnotist shows. His glassy blue eyes were fixed to the large screen where Shrek running up and down the screen with his new wife. I attempted to hand Dryver his popcorn, not interested. I tried the bubbles, no reaction. I thought for sure the chocolate would get him, but he would not even acknowledge that I was in the theater, let alone sitting next to him. I began to realize this is what I will experience when he gets older and as a teen he ignores everything I do or say.

From the moment Shrek showed up on the big screen, to the ending credits Dryver was engulfed in the animated computerized charaters and great storyline full of jokes for kids and adults alike. I began to realize that this magic of the movies would dissipate as he gets older, but for that short 95 minutes Dryver was a part of the story. He laughed when the Donkey fell down, he smiled when Shrek cracked a joke, and he showed empathy when the kitty cat would show his cute little eyes. I thought to myself, this is the magic of the silver screen that keeps people coming back. If Dryver’s experience is the norm for new theatergoers, it is clear that people continue to come to regain some of that initial magic of the first time.

I did finally get him to eat his treats and drink some of his bubbles, but he did it without taking his eyes off the big screen. I figured this is how we learn to multifunction as adults. When the movie was over we clapped and left the theater hand in hand. I gave Dryver a hug and told him I loved him. He hugged me back and he was so happy. I asked him what he thought of Shrek, Donkey, and Kitty. He loved them all. On the way out of the theater we waved to the concession girl, stopped at the big Shrek poster to look at the kitty a little closer and rode the escalator down to the exit.

Dryver looked up to me as if to say thank you, with a big smile on his face, he quietly said ‘Again Daddy?’ I replied ‘Yes Buddy, we can do this again very soon,’ In the back of my mind I realized that this was a once in a lifetime experience that neither him nor I would never forget.

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