I want BLOOD on my hands.
It’s three am and the memory of what happened Friday afternoon still twists my gut. God help me, I wanted to beat a man to death right in front of his baby’s eyes. The rage flickered inside my heart only for a moment, but I can’t deny it was there.
Let me set the scene.
My wife and I went to see the new movie "Smokin Aces" with a couple of friends of ours. Being a Friday, there was a good-sized crowd, but the theater was far from packed. Some "gentleman" high in the auditorium seats had brought his baby to the movie and it wailed during the previews. I was shaking my head in disgust, muttering in disbelief, when another single father strolled down our isle and sat down with his infant child. There were more than a dozen empty rows, but he chose to sit DIRECTLY in front of us.
In case you haven’t seen the ads, let me tell you, "Smokin Aces" is violent on an apocalyptic scale. The film is littered with bodies. Men are shot, stabbed, burnt, beaten, tortured, and decimated by chain saws. That theater, showing that movie, was NO place for a baby.
So of course, the baby got restless.
For twenty minutes, she cried and squirmed as the man wrestled her in and out of the stroller. At times, he handed the kid a box of candy to use as a rattle. So when we weren’t distracted by the baby’s cries we got to listen to "RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE."
I was about to go to the lobby and speak to a manager when my wife very calmly, very politely asked the man if he could please try to keep the baby quiet.
The man glared at my wife angrily and said, "It’s a fucking baby."
He said it so quickly, I can only assume he was waiting for someone to say something to him. It’s a fucking baby. As if my wife were somehow a horrible person. How dare she. A poor, innocent baby is frightened and crying. How dare she ask him to please keep the baby quiet.
By the way, did I mention that my wife is seven months pregnant?
"It’s a fucking baby," he repeated, snarling at my wife.
"Yeah, and it’s a rated-R movie," I responded. "You don’t bring a kid into a movie like this."
The man tore out of seat and gathered up his things. He was a stocky guy with a shaved head and a heavy frame, bulging with fat and muscle–he could’ve been a nameless thug in the movie we were watching. He left, yelling curses while my wife pleaded with me to stay in my chair.
Rage coursed through my veins so hard that I trembled. (In fact, I tremble now typing this account.) And just when I began to calm down the man came back.
He left his stroller a few yards away and yelled horrible things at my wife–a woman with child herself. I wish I could say I took the high ground. I wish I could say that I remained zen and let it slide. But any zen I might’ve had slipped away when he said those things to my wife. I had my own words for the man, and they weren’t pretty.
The man eventually left, and we got back to the film. But the whole time, we had to look over our shoulders, because there is no doubt in my mind that he wanted to fight.
My mind staggers trying to comprehend him. In the end, it boils down to one thing–selfishness. The man thought only of himself. He didn’t care about anyone in the theater. He didn’t care that he would have to knock down a pregnant woman to get to me. And most of all, he didn’t care about his own child, whose safety was put at risk because of stupidity and a twisted sense of self-entitlement.
I cared more about his child than he did.
There were many reasons why I didn’t try to take the bastard’s head off. I didn’t want to risk my wife’s safety. I didn’t want to go to jail over a scumbag. I didn’t know if he had a gun. But most of all, I simply couldn’t beat this man in front of his child. As much as I wanted to feel his blood on my knuckles, it would’ve been wrong. What if the baby was hurt in the scuffle? What would that make me?
In some way, this event will end up in my fiction. It has crystallized at least one motive for all the evil in the world. Selfishness.
If you like a good nihilistic bullet-fest, the movie was great, and I really enjoyed it. Up until the end.
As the climax crested its peak and the bloody action gave way to quiet, reflective dialogue, the baby up in the auditorium seating began to wail. Its father, who no doubt wanted to see the end of the movie, stayed in his seat.
My mind staggers.