I’m standing in line at my neighborhood Trader Joe's and I start to thinking about waiting because I had picked the wrong horse. I thought I was behind someone who hardly anything. I was partially right. She didn’t have much in her SECOND cart!
So there I was waiting for my turn. Lines and me are old friends so I am used to it but I it began to gnaw on me again. Have I waited in line too much?
It was determined long ago that I would be the “line-waiter-in-chief” in our family. That was determined shortly after our first child was born. Would I rather wait in line for Peter Pan or would I rather sit in the cool of a tree’s shade on one of those oh so perfect benches in Fantasy Land?
Fortunately for me I didn’t have to make the decision. My spouse would “volunteer” to stay with the child and “watch” me as I made my way through the line and they would join me as I got closer. That way the wait for our beautiful super active daughter would have a short wait to fly through the air on one of Captain Hook’s ships on the best ride in Fantasyland.
That is our opinion but we have been on every ride in Fantasyland more than most people and that is the only one that we feel is worth the wait although the tea cups are fun if you’ve not had a tuna-melt just before. However as our kids grew the “best” ride would become a much bigger discussion. Would it be Indiana Jones, Space Mountain or did we want to cool off and watch the antics of those silly Pirates? It would be a rather important discussion because I would have to feel that it was worth the WAIT as the big ride “waits” are mostly in the sun!!
At the Parks now you can buy your way out of a long line. Disgusting! Where were they when I was waiting? Disneyland and its kind, of course, were not the only waiting I would do as our girl and boy went through their “kid” years. Movies as well as book openings were major “waits.”
I was not alone of course. There were scores of parents with me in line holding multiple tickets in their hands. The wait could be an hour or multiple hours. Sometimes the wait was so onerous the establishment where the event was happening would worry that the collection of an unwieldy humanity could constitute a fire hazard. Poles were set up and areas assigned to certain time periods and certain theatre screens at the multiplexes. Sometimes that was not enough and further organization was required.
A stamp was slapped on the back of your hand or you were given a little token or a hospital ribbon of a vibrant color was wrapped around your wrist and you were told to come back and endure a less long wait to see your show or pick up your book.
We lived through a time when there were several concurrent entertainment events that attracted great throngs of peoples throughout the world. Movie events and their sequels along with the golden age of animation and then its digital counterpart were happening seemingly one on top of the other with Harry Potter becoming both a literary phenomenon as well as a cinematic one. Fortunately for both parent and child the quality of the product was surprisingly good and consistent. Not every film was as good as the other but all kept the franchises going. Harry Potter however was an accomplishment unparalleled in our time.
They were all a good read and got a lot of young people to read our son being among those who became an avid reader by getting hooked on the Harry Potter series. The subsequent movies were all good with some bordering on being cinematic icons. Now with Amazon and the new way the publishing trade disseminates content electronically those actual human lines for books are now a near memory. They have been replaced by anticipated downloads onto ones’ ereaders Kindles, Ipads and even Smartphones.
Now the hardware has become the latest line that occupy the time of many but not me. Those days are gone. My spouse has no desire to wait in line for much of anything cinematic. Not now when we will see it on one of the many personal platforms that are available to us and only getting bigger and louder. We also are not first adopters. Thank God for that!
And yet the question still plagues me at every line. How have I come to wait in all those lines and this current line in what we all know is a linear life? When did I accept that I would wait in a line? What was it that caused me to join this road to stasis? Then I always remember. It was Star Wars.
Star Wars IV to be exact although at the time no one waiting in line knew that. As far as we were concerned this was just THE thing to do. Wait in line to see Star Wars. It had been building up for some time among my generation. There were long lines for the movie Jaws and there were asinine lines that were formed in New York City to see Deep Throat. Everyone in that line being thoroughly disappointed at seeing the climax of their wait.
But Star Wars was different. It had made the cover of TIME magazine. Nobody said it was just okay. No, those precious few who had seen it on the coast said that it was the most amazing cinematic experience of our lifetimes or any lifetimes!! So there we were. It was a small group of a half of dozen or so that waited with me, my spouse among them, on that warm night. We often would look at the tickets that we couldn’t believe our luck that we had. We didn't see Star Wars in one of the cinematic capitals of the world. No we were waiting outside a General Cinema Theater in the great city of New Orleans, Metairie to be exact. We waited two hours to see it. Was it worth it? After we saw it, we got right back in line to see it again. That’s right. We waited another two hours to see it again.
Years have been spent in line by me. Noticed I didn’t say wasted because I realize now I don’t look it at that way. There was always a pot of, well not necessarily gold, but at least something I wanted after my long wait. I stand in line because that first long line I stood in I got the reward of an emotionally visceral wondrous experience in Star Wars that providentially in my life of long line waiting has been repeated again and again. Repeated in the magic that we saw in the faces of our children when they finally got to ride Peter Pan or to be part of the intense energy that permeates a huge opening night crowd seeing a cinematic wonder for the first time or to hear the roar of a capacity crowd as the Angels took the field in their first playoff game and another hundred other experiences that wouldn’t have been near as potent and resplendent if I had not endured the wait.
While not the same ending can be said about grocery store lines one thing is common to all lines in waiting. We all stand in lines still to get something worth waiting for and we will wait it out until we get it. Some waits reward you with a Star Wars and some just a good cut of meat but it’s all good when it’s worth the wait. Oh good. Finally the line’s moving.