Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beat on the Brat: How Not to Deal with Mouthy Kids.

Most folks who opt to sacrifice a few moments of life's rich pageant to read my blatherings have already roamed the highways and byways of this big blue marble for a few years.

And I'd be willing to bet that most of you have encountered a situation or two similar to the scenario I'm about to illustrate:

You've been highly anticipating Hollywood's latest and greatest blockbuster. Granted, it won't have Hitchcockian plot twists and it won't be layered more richly than even a small Peanut Buster Parfait, but it does promise enough action to scratch that testosterone itch.

On top of that, this film features a certain thespian who can make your Johansson turn scarlet.

You decide to go all in—3D, prime time, Friday night—a small fortune, but as a pre-Scientologist Tom Cruise once pointed out in Risky Business, "Sometimes you just have to say, 'What the f*ck.'"

Arriving early for optimal seat selection, you unfold the stained burlappy seat, descend into its comfort and plant your feet firmly at nine and three o'clock, forming a bond with the sticky floor strong enough to adhere heat tiles to the space shuttle.

An experienced movie goer, you've attempted various crossed-leg positions in the past, only to become hopelessly distracted by the loss of circulation and subsequent foot and leg comas. After years of trial and error, you decide that movie watching and bathroom going should both be performed with a balanced center of gravity.

Risks of profound systemic breakdowns run considerably higher when sitting on the toilet with crossed legs, however.

You still haven't completely reconciled your value system to the pre-preview barrage of adverts for soft drinks, cars and TV cop shows, so by the time the actual movie trailers begin, you're coated with a light varnish of crabbiness.

And then they come in. You hear them before you see them. It's a group of kids talking loudly, running up and down the aisles...and settling into the seats directly behind you. They're throwing popcorn, constantly brushing up against you and growing progressively louder.

Desperately flailing for the door knob to your happy place, you convince yourself that they'll shut up and sit down once their attention is consumed by superheroes and explosions. You gently scold yourself for being unprepared to congregate with this film genre's demographic.

The movie starts, and the horrific sample of America's future seated behind you hasn't settled down in the least. Enough is enough. Time to act. This disrespectful pack of evil gerbils will douse your buzz no more.

You crane your neck and stare at the de facto leader of the spoiled crow murder. You wait for a second to allow your glare to break through his monkey brain stem and into his frontal lobes. No dice.

"You know," you say calmly, "I paid a lot of money to see this movie."

Laughter. Flying popcorn. More noise. Snap.

The scene I've just narrated could have happened to any of us, wouldn't you say? But a guy from Kent, Washington, opted to use a different tool than most of us probably would when confronting obnoxious tweens.

Twenty-one-year-old Yong Hyun Kim used the hammer. He climbed over a row of seats and punched one of the kids in the face, bloodying his nose and knocking out a tooth.

The kid was ten years old.

Yong is now facing a felony assault charge, and claims that he thought the boy was an adult and didn't realize he'd struck a minor until the police told him.


I'm thinking even LeBron James looked ever so slightly like a kid when he was ten. Sure, Ed Asner probably had more hair on his ten-year-old back than his head, but even in a dark theater, I doubt I would've mistaken him for an elder Lou Grant and clobbered him in the squash.

Look, nothing hits that sweet spot in an adult's temper like a mouthy kid. We've all been tempted to perform painful, yet non-bruising acts upon little ones who don't understand that we have the power to remove their heads with a sharp Hershey's Syrup lid if we so desire.

But we don't. That's why we're called grown-ups.

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