It was, and I stress the ‘was’, all going to plan rather well. I’d agreed to take my children to the cinema as a bit of a treat.
Included in that treat was the unusual – because I’m loath to pay the equivalent of a small country’s national debt – purchase of small (though those buggers still carry a ton of popcorn) portion of popcorn each. This, it would transpire, would be my undoing.
At this point you can feel yourself breath. We’re here. We’re sat. Minimal tolerable fuss. Parenting points all round
Sometimes as a parent you get grateful for the little successes that happen in a day. Especially on a Saturday afternoon after a morning where they’ve been busy doing sports. By the PM you’re not sure which way it could go: either relative calm or descend into chaos. So, as you might imagine, kids in car and eventless journey: tick. Kids out of car and successfully negotiate the car park without having to tell them to keep to the pavement: tick. Tickets dispensed and popcorn purchased with reasonably excited kid activity in public: tick. It gets better too: kids find seats without fuss: (big) tick. Popcorn boxes passed out to hands that grasp the box firmly: solid tick.
At this point you can feel yourself breath. We’re here. We’re sat. Minimal tolerable fuss. Parenting points all round. You sit a little more relaxed in the chair and you’re sure you can hear a little internal round of applause as you release the mental leash from the situation. Your work here, is done.
Imagine the scenario then: we four comfortable, contented. We make it through the adverts to the usual chorus of “I want to see that”; “When can we go and see that?” all requests batted away like a pro. This then quietens down for the main feature. I settle in and glance across at my three: my eldest, my daughter and my 7 year old sat next to me (this being the optimum seat distribution for potential toilet breaks, “I’m scarred”, or for some reason we just can’t sit still and have to move so our seat keeps crashing back). Their faces illuminated white by the glare of the screen. Top job. Top dad.
And then I look across to my daughter. And she turns to me. Smiles. And the entire contents of the box cascades for some never-to-be-explained-no-not-even-by-science reason and explodes onto the floor. As incredulity strikes and I’m already responding mentally with a “what the ..”, I see my youngest’s hand holding his popcorn, and notice a slight quiver.
As a parent, or in some other part of your life, you’ve experienced that moment when you see an event unfold. You can see the outcome. You can even see yourself intervening. And so it was the case here. I saw his little fingers loosen and in a futile attempt I lurch forward. Yet, as is the case in these situations, in the moment you move you already know it’s too late.
His full box of salted popcorn crashes to the floor.
My feet are now swimming in brown popped kernels of puffy crunchiness. Though it was under my breath. I’m sure I let out a “for fuck’s sake”. I was dumbfounded that the floor had become awash with popcorn when not 60 seconds ago we were the fucking Brady bunch and I was getting the Best Dad in the World Award.
I did what any child would do. I tried to hide the evidence
The cinema wasn’t full by any means and thankfully I didn’t get tutting. Yes, it was so bad that tutting was skipped and they must have gone straight to, “Thank God that’s not me”.
In some wistful belief I would be subtle and not draw attention, I got my shoe beneath the heavy layer of popcorn and gently shuffled the contents forward letting them tip to the floor of the seats in front of us which were thankfully empty. Obviously by now the film had started and I was not about to get up an notify the cinema staff. I did what any child would do: I tried to hide the evidence. Well, hide as well as anyone could. I distributed enough to allow me and them some foot space with minimal crunching. Deciding that for the rest of the film whenever there was a loud scene I’d outstretch my foot in an attempt to sweep more evidence away as possible.
It’s fair to say that at the end of the film we made our way out of the cinema rather sharpish, the crunch of my children’s footfall a claxon reminder of our misfortune and failed cover-up.
In conclusion I can only offer my apologies to the staff who had to clean up our detritus. Seats D16, 15, 14 and 13 thank you very much indeed.