Saturday, August 14, 2004

Bowling for balloons

Today is my nephew Ernie's 16th birthday and his mother, my sister Marguerite, has been trying to work around his incredibly busy teenage social life to build in a moment of family celebration. He spent last night at his friend Matt's house, today he slept in until time to go to work at The Cinema Center, our local non-chain theater, the one interesting movie theater in New Castle County's world of multiplexes. The Cinema Center shows Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night at midnight - it's that kind of happening fun theater, run by the same people who run Video Americaine in Newark and Baltimore, the same people who ran the old State Theater until it was torn down under protest 15 years ago or so.

Ernie attends the ritual showings of Rocky Horror with his friends. And starting last month, he also vends popcorn, candy and soda with the other young men and women who all seem to be children of people I know. (Am I getting old?) Last month, my friend Nancy Nobile and I went to the 10:00 pm showing of some movie or other, and afterwards we stood outside before heading home. Ernie came walking up dressed in his long black duster, black jeans, black t-shirt, ready to meet his friends for a midnight showing of Rocky Horror. I'm not usually so quick-witted, but this time just as he spotted me I went into overdrive as a doting, clueless aunt: " Nancy, look, it's my nephew Ernie. Oh gosh Ernie, how nice to see you, we can sit with you and your friends." Ernie is trying to assimilate it all at once. "You're going to see Rocky Horror?" Two Old People hanging out with the kids? "Sure, man, what do you think? I was close to your age when this movie came out, this is MY generation's movie." "Oh, okay, yeah, I guess so." He was being so gracious, so of course I had to turn it on more. "Oh Nancy, it will be so nice to meet Ernie's friends and hang out with them!" Ernie's friends walked up then, and he gamely said, "Uh, this is my aunt Rae and her friend, they're going to sit with us." He was so cool, I immediately broke out of role and said, " Just kidding, Ernie. We just came from seeing N" (Darned if I can remember what we saw!) He breathed a visible sigh of relief and said, "Oh, okay", and I said, "I got you good!" and he smiled. When he came home from Italy last month with Ish and Robbie, Ernie greeted me with a big dramatic clinging hug, gasping "At last, it's so good to see someone who knows me!" He's growing up real good...

Since she couldn't get hold of him, Marguerite went out and bought a bunch of balloons and had them filled with helium. She then collected me from the bowling alley next door, where Em, Ish, Robbie and I had taken granddaughter Ruthie for the afternoon. She, Nesbitt the dachsund and I strolled into the theater with balloons from which various denominations of currency trailed on ribbons.

We made a fine entrance. I heard one kid behind the popcorn counter say to the next one, "Whose birthday is it?" as the girl dispensing tickets asked who we wanted. But it turns out that Ernie did not work his shift after all -- it being his birthday and all, he came to work, found somebody to take his shift, and took off.

It's not easy being the mother of a 16-year-old. I've put in my time, Emily is 18 now, Deo gratias!

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