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Nostalgia June 2014

Intermission

By Sy Rosen

I noticed a cute girl from my school across the lobby and gathering up all my courage, went to talk to her. Unfortunately, what I learned was that a guy should never be singing, “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair” when he walks up to a girl. And I probably would have been more successful if I didn’t have chocolate-covered peanuts caught between my teeth.

There are lots of theories about what’s wrong with our society. Well, forget everything you’ve heard – I know where we went wrong. It’s the simple fact that there’re no more movie intermissions.

Okay, I know it sounds a little weird but it was during intermissions that I learned some of life’s most valuable lessons. I remember clutching a box of chocolate-covered roasted peanuts while my father talked to me during the intermission of West Side Story. With great wisdom he said, “Gangs are bad.” I nodded my head solemnly while eating my chocolate-covered peanuts.  And during the intermission of South Pacific he looked at me and said, “Prejudice is bad.” Again I nodded my head solemnly while eating my peanuts.

Of course, my Aunt Gussie had more important things to discuss during the intermission of South Pacific. “When I was younger, people always said I looked like Mitzi Gaynor. I think I still do.”

It was during the intermission of South Pacific that I learned another valuable lesson. I noticed a cute girl from my school across the lobby and gathering up all my courage, went to talk to her. Unfortunately, what I learned was that a guy should never be singing, “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair” when he walks up to a girl. And I probably would have been more successful if I didn’t have chocolate-covered peanuts caught between my teeth.

My family often went to these movies as a group (because it was considered an event back then). During the intermission of The King and I my relatives discussed how sexy Yul Brynner looked with his bald head. My Uncle Harold, for obvious reasons, loved that discussion.

Uncle Harold tried to bring up the baldness issue during the intermission of Spartacus but since neither Kirk Douglas nor Tony Curtis was bald, the conversation really didn’t take off. During the Spartacus intermission my Aunt Gussie said, “When I was younger, people said I looked like Jean Simmons. I think I still do.”

It was during the intermission of Oklahoma that my Aunt Irene became a family legend. Movie bathrooms for women were notoriously small and crowded and Aunt Irene found herself at the back of a tremendously long line. She became worried that she would miss the beginning of the second act and not know what was going on between Curly, Laurey, Ado Annie and Will.  Aunt Irene noticed that, as usual, there was no line to the men’s room. And, advancing the equal rights of women across the country, she marched into the men’s room, did her business, and marched out.

My family has talked about this for years – some think she should have been given a medal while others think she should have been arrested. My Uncle Harold still asks her what she saw in there. Aunt Irene always smiles and answers, “Not much.”

I suppose the reason there are no more intermissions is that everything’s shorter these days. An average movie is only an hour and 40 minutes, a half-hour TV show is 22 minutes, and the last foot-long hot dog I ate was only 10 inches long (I know it’s bizarre that I measured it, but I had some time on my hands).

I only had one opportunity to pass the magic of the movie intermission on to my daughter. When she was 10 I took her to a re-release of Fiddler on the Roof. I remember holding her hand in the lobby and wisely telling her, “Hatred is bad.” She solemnly nodded her head while chewing a mouth full of Gummy Bears.

 

Sy has written for The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, MASH, Maude, The Wonder Years, and Frasier. He has been married for forty-one years which is great because they say the first forty are the toughest.

 

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