Cinema Latino de Fort Worth

About two months ago, I got a craving to start watching a movie series. Really, any series would do. I thought through the roster of movies I had never watched…Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc. At random, I selected Twilight.

Embarrassed by my selection, I sent someone else into Blockbuster to get the first one. I devoured it. We went back the next day to get the second and third, which I watched back to back. Then the fourth. In 24 hours, I became a Twihard. The fifth film of the saga was out in theaters, but our elusive schedule over the holidays made for 6 weeks of denying me what felt like my birthright. To appropriately quench my thirst (!), I took to the books, downloading one, then two, then three, then four…

I found ways to insert my newfound interest into random work conversations. I learned that I was about 7 years late on the hype, but that didn’t stop my zest for the product. When they put in a cafe in my office building and named it “Bella’s Cafe,” I couldn’t resist. When people talked about baby names, “EJ” and “Renesmee” came up. And of course, after last years “which of my two employees would win in the hunger games (against one another)” mass poll, I had to hold back temptations to start up an “Edward vs. Jacob” tally.

Fast forward weeks that dragged on like months. My husband insisted that we have a date night this past weekend. He told me to be ready to go by 3:45pm on Saturday. We cruised down the highway, a familiar route I take to work. As he pulled off on the exit that takes me to work, I glared at him. This didn’t feel like a date. This felt like work.

He circled into the parking lot of La Grande Plaza, straining to read the all-Spanish signs on the outside of each establishment. I kept my gaze forward; this was going to end badly. When he at last found what he was looking for, I dropped my jaw- “Cinema Latino de Fort Worth.”He proudly exclaimed it was the only showing left in town for the last Twilight movie.

The lady selling us tickets raised an eyebrow. Nearby children were dumping fudge syrup on their popcorn. I was not in Kansas anymore. There were six of us total in the theater. We watched the movie with Spanish subtitles framing each word. A woman in her fifties behind us exclaimed “yes!” every time the good guys beat the bad guys.

On the way out, we noticed the crowd at the mall shifted to a different demographic. The parking lot at La Grande Plaza on any given weekend night was a rave-fiesta of epic proportions. My husband was motivated to get us home. We hopped on the escalators to leave, and found a surprise on the bottom rung.

I burst into uncontrollable laughter, the kind that sounds fake, irreverent, and uncalled for at best. I pointed it out to everyone coming down the stairs behind us, but they didn’t seem to find it humorous at all. I tried to naively assume it was because they didn’t speak English, but shamefully, I knew better.

Everyone’s look insinuated we should probably leave, and that we didn’t get the cultural norms associated with the mall. My husband held me tightly, trying to silence me with comments about ‘just getting to the car,’ which only made my fit worse.

I had just seen a teenage heart throb movie as a married and pregnant anglo woman in a Hispanic mall with a runaway wiener. Why was this not funny to everyone else?

“Date nights are supposed to be memorable at least,” he commented. He wins.

Parrot Night Frights

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}

I was sitting at my desk at work when an evite found its way to my inbox. Delighting in the contents, I read about the highly anticipated TCU-OU football match up and a fun tailgating event calling my name. When I scanned for the details, my screen stopped on the frame indicating the when (three weeks from now) and the where (my house). I picked my jaw up off of the floor. Corporate communications would have to improve at some point. For now, I had a fifty person event to plan.
The eve before the party, when the house was impeccable, with dishware guarding the territories that would soon be occupied with gourmet egg casseroles, fruit, and French toast. The very last piece of the puzzle was evaporating any trace of the two parrots who normally ‘hung out’ downstairs in the family room. I carefully moved each cage stand, cage, and supplies one at a time into our master bedroom, where they would be forced the reciprocal horror of sleeping with both of us that night.
Fred I wasn’t worried about; he was a seasoned vet. After the passing of my last bird, he spent many a nights by my side as I doted on him and moved him into a new cherished role. But Frieda was green. She’d only been with us for 4 weeks, and her sleep routine consisted of the same thing each night. This new terrain was already throwing her off. I assured them both things would go a whole lot smoother if they would just shut it and enjoy the change of scenery.
At about 11pm, when I had conquered all I could for the night, I retreated to the bedroom, covered their cages with the familiar cotton sheet, turned the lights out, and fell fast asleep. When my bunkmate made it back upstairs over an hour later, he walked to his side of the bed in the dark and dropped his phone on the nightstand.
As if it were a gunshot, Frieda went off on cue. I woke up to blustery wings flittering and hitting the sides of the cage. She was engulfed by sheer pandemonium, and the dark made it impossible for her to come to terms with her mobile enemy.
“Turn on the light!” I yelled, suddenly alert in a maternal panic.
The light was on. Frieda seemed to be wrapping up her chaotic spell. But Fred- Fred was just getting started. Of all birds, he should know better. He chose to exercise his full range of motion- running at full speed into each side of the cage, flying into the top corners, liable to cut his own wing off.
“Fred!” “Frieda!” I yelled. “Calm down!”
But it was no use. I flung the sheet off of their cages to display one bird who was already back to status quo (Frieda) and one bird who was hysterical (Fred). I opened his cage and clutched him close, trying to understand why he couldn’t see that everything was just fine in the light.
When I uncovered my hand, he did something astounding. That little bird, who I was just sure could register the safety of our house, flew directly vertical into the ceiling. I hear a loud thud, and couldn’t believe his stupidity. We scrambled to get to the light switch panel as he headed for the fan. But he didn’t learn his lesson from bump #1. Freddy Mac revved up and took yet another northbound dive into the ceiling, this time, skidding across the ceiling the way a rock would skip over water.
Verifiably banged up, I managed to capture him and return him to his cage, next to his (already) sleeping girlfriend.
I spent the next hour analyzing what their conversation must have looked like:
Frieda: What was that? What was THAT!? We’re going to die!!!!
Fred: Oh calm down diva, I’ve been through this rodeo before.
Frieda: We’re doomed! It must be a raven!
Fred: Wait, what? What’s that you said? What the heck!? BAAGGHGHGHGH!
The four of us were never so relieved to leave that moment in the past. I was reminded, yet again, why it is not socially acceptable to leave your parrots out for new company. Although I considered the alternative…how many events would we be hosting if we did?

The Bartender

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}

He was running late and I had zero experience pouring drinks. About fifteen people had already arrived for the estimated 50-60 person tailgate in our house and yard, and I couldn’t quite afford to lose a vendor at this stage in the game.
I stepped out front to call him. His calm voice cheerily picked up, assuring me he was five minutes away. No apology, no lack of confidence.
When he arrived, I questioned the tired redness of his eyes, but couldn’t contest at this point. He got right to work, running circles around the guests premeditating drinks, cleaning up, and chasing people down with drinks they thought they had abandoned.
Just before the masses left, he joined me in the kitchen to help with the dishes. I was appalled by how helpful he was; I would remember this for the future.  When we were washing up the last of the dishes, he let me know that he was also attending that day’s football game. “Oh no!” I exclaimed, looking at the clock. I had surely made him late and was completely unaware. He assured me it was okay, then asked with affirmation, “it’s okay if I keep my truck parked in your driveway, right?”
Actually, I wasn’t sure. There were more events to follow the game, and I knew my husband would need his vehicle. I managed to find an extra parking pass for a lot just across the way and gave it to him. He didn’t seem to keen on the idea, and pointed out that he was already trapped behind another unidentified vehicle. Rats.
He asked if he and (I assume his girlfriend/bartender #2) could change for the game in our bathroom. Of course it was okay- it could only take a few minutes.
Nearly 15 minutes later, as I was locking up, I heard a noise inside the house. They were still inside?! I had nearly locked them in, unaware their dressing would take so long. When he emerged, he said thanks, and then asked if I had an extra set of gameday tickets.
Strange. He had already told me he was going to the game. Uncomfortable and without my other half who would have the answer I expected, I told him I didn’t know. He asked me to text him when I got inside if I had extras, that he’d just be waiting outside of the stadium.
When I left, I shook it all off as weird. But at least everyone was out of my house and it was time I caught up with the group since it was almost quarter 2.
After the game, I hurried back to the house to get ready for some of the partygoers to return to hang out before their next stop. In the backyard,  several groups were mingling. I sat inside the living room with a group of about 5-6 people.
I felt a warm grip on my bare shoulder that rubbed down and then up before I could spin from my chair to see who was touching me.
“Heeeyyyyyyyy,” said the bartender. His job had ended exactly 3 hours ago.
He was inebriated, and somehow, he was back in my house.  My apparent look of shock led him to follow with, “calllmmm down.”
I now had an audience.
“Did you find the keys you left?” I asked. Though I knew very well that he shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
“Oh yeah, I got those.” He said.
I couldn’t figure out what he wanted then. Why was he in the house, with the party still happening, drunk and oogling me?
“I didn’t mean to impose,” he said. Phew! He must have felt the awkward tension and was planning to leave. But he didn’t.
Instead, I watched him walk right past me, open the backdoor, go down the steps, open the cooler, pop open a Coors Light (!), and proceed to walk straight to one of the chatting circles of businessmen.
I couldn’t stop it from happening, but watching from the window was tortuous. It unfolded in slow motion. Eventually, he was kindly let to the gate, where he scrounged for his keys and made an exit.
It was one of those, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” situations unlike I’ve never experienced.
For future,  I’ll be sure I can make mimosas.

Cheap Swimwear

I was a junior in college when our family spring break landed us in an all-inclusive Mexican resort.

At the forefront of the main pool, that afternoon’s activity was well underway. About 25 folks lined up do si do style to do water aerobics in front of the ringleader, a Bahamian man in his twenties ripped up and tanned with a microphone headpiece.
My dad and two brothers were already in the pool area just behind the crowd. I sat perched on the first stair step entering the pool, about 10 feet away. We were all poking fun at the routine unfolding before us. Now, raise your arms straight out to the side and make small circles, everyone!

I was sporting a lavender and white bandeau top and bottom set that I scored a week earlier from Target. When in doubt, a girl always needs more cheap swimsuits.
The three of them were somewhat facing me in a half moon. As I started to laugh at another one of their charade of jests, something outstanding happened.
The low-grade plastic binding- the hook that secured my strapless swim top- snapped in half. Under normal circumstances, this would be a horrifying event. Under my circumstances, I was not only facing my three immediate male family members, but I had also been wearing a top size that was about 2 sizes too small.
Laws of physics can tell the rest of the story. Imagine snapping a very tight elastic band. My swimsuit top launched into the air like a slingshot, landing about 3 feet in front of me in the water. Just enough time to burn everyone’s eyes out.
I did what was natural to me: I dunked in the water while scrapping for my top. My male family members did what was natural to them: they nearly drowned in the water.
I will never laugh again at the women who spend $200 on a swimsuit.

Chair Noises

When I was seventeen, I was still pretty green to the dating scene.

But an upperclassman- a percussionist at that- had taken a fancy to me. Not only did he play the drums for our high school marching band (enter my being a part of the drill team), but he was also ridiculously smart. Or, at least I catered to that idea.

It should be noted that he was the first in a line of experiments involving a signed contract between “the dater” and my parents…but that’s for another time.

Since he was a year ahead of me, I would invite him over to help me with my calculus. There we would sit, in front of the kitchen bay windows with an old wooden table, hearty chairs, and hardwood floors. I would work diligently on a problem, following his completely unnecessary instructions, and he would ‘review’ my work.

We got the giggles on one of these wintry evenings when I would lean in to hear his explanation, and the heavy chair would scoot against the hardwoods, making itself a doppelganger for flatulence. The laughs perpetuated when it happened a second and third time.

But when it happened the fourth time, the chair sat unmoved. His words hung like like knives in the freshly cut air: “I’m guessing that one was not the chair.”

It wasn’t. And there was the lesson that self-restraint would prove invaluable to my future relationships…

Sales

I’ve never been good at sales.

I was probably the only Girl Scout in history who was solicited about the cookies I was ‘selling’ by others who had seen me dressed in green rather than the other way around. Feelings of obligation, hustling, and putting people on the spot still makes me squirm.

My mom would take me door-to-door, insisting the only way to get those gorgeous badges was to continue my end of the bargain to sell, sell, sell. I would get anxious, hating to force those delectables on unsuspecting homeowners, and tended to take my sweet time walking from door to door. On one particularly cold and snowy afternoon, I was tromping door to door to meet my ‘minimum sales.’ It was so cold I took off running across the yards trying not to get frostbite, but I couldn’t see the the newly planted tree suspension wires. My cheat sheet of cookie selections and boots went different directions. That season ended with mom buying nearly every box that was required.

When I took a job in sales at Nordstrom about ten years later, I justified it by noting that my gung-ho patronage could override any reservations I had about talking it up. Enter returns with feminine hygiene pads in the back pockets and men insisting on trying on women’s clothing.

But the bizarre and unexpected is where sales always lead. One being an elderly lady of about a size 14 in the juniors department, asking me to remove the pants from her prosthetic leg in the dressing room and put her into a pair of camo pants in a juniors size Large (or, my size). We couldn’t quite manage to get the camo above the knee, which left me face to face with her white panties for minutes. She insisted I stay on my knees to help with the angle of the pants.

Or perhaps a relative of hers who later showed up eager to join in the ‘palazzo pants’ or ‘jazz pants’ craze, insisting the stretchy low-rise pants were supposed to be worn at the natural waist, pulling and packaging everything she had in a way that said, “check this out.”

You can have your commission.

The Auction

The live auction had started. My husband and I, as well as our 8 guests, were sitting at a table in the back, listening as the bidding wars began. It was the event I had been co-planning for a year, and everything was going along swimmingly.

A side conversation was emerging at our table, focused on the recently-discovered phenomenon that there still existed places in America where people could exercise or swim nude.

Somehow the conversation escalated quickly, and our guests were making jokes I’m sure you could imagine on your own.

Contributing to the the revelry, my husband waved his bidder paddle in the air in jest, affirming the hilarity of the situation.

Except he did bid.

The auctioneer raised his light saber and exclaimed, “$10,000, do we have another?!”

My impulse reaction was to punch my right fist into his chest. Right there, in front of our guests, I had flailed my arms quite violently and should have been embarrassed by my display of emotion. But I didn’t have time to process that. I jumped up and in front of the room of about 750 people, many of whom I know and/or report to, I had to wave my arms in a dramatic horizontal motion to indicate that the bid hadn’t been intentional.

It was a weird wrap-up. I had to apologize for punching his chest. We had to explain the whole nude swimming/exercise thing when approached about the mis-bidding. We had to bounce off jokes about what could have been a great tax write-off.

Naked people always seem to get me in trouble.