Monday, September 18, 2006

Arthur: Heart-to-heart with a stranger

The theater's projection room scares me. It's a long room that runs parallel to the hallway between theaters, with great big 35 millimeter projectors every twenty feet or so, fed by large rotating platters stacked three high, each pointing into different theaters. A couple have things attached to provide digital sound; all of them have digital projectors for either the pre-show advertising or movies that come on hard drives rather than film. In one corner, there's a work table for assembling and disassembling prints As a manager, Liz is supposed to be qualified to do all this, and I have no doubt she is. Fortunately for me, not only is an assembled film is bulky, heavy, and unweildy, but the head manager apparently subscribes to the "women and machines don't mix" mindset. Thus, I've not yet had to actually try my hand at making those crazy things run. I've got no doubt I could learn, but I have been paying attention every time I go up there, I don't think they're going to make the little Korean girl run the projectors any time soon.

This is a roundabout way of explaining why I haven't had much to do with Elizabeth's friend and co-worker Zoe yet. Most of the time, a theater can operate with two or three people, and on slow days that's almost overkill - Liz's workplace is a ten-plex, but it's a sort of art-house ten-plex, which translates into the patrons being pretty good about not throwing popcorn all over the place, so there's one manager up in the booth, one of us down on the floor, and one college kid or senior citizen selling tickets, selling candy, ripping tickets, cleaning the theater, and probably either getting homework done or solving sudokus during the day. Weeknights, we've got separate people sellinng tickets and candy and an usher who also cleans the theaters. Friday night to Sunday night, there might be a few more people on. Anyway, most of the time, there's only two managers on duty, and the other one is almost always a guy, since otherwise either Zoe or I would be working the machines. Generally, we'll see each other in passing as our shifts overlap by a half hour.

Saturday night, though, both of us were on, and while there wasn't initially a lot of time for chatting, things quieted down a little around eight o'clock, with us in the locked office counting the incredible amount of money a theater makes on a busy night and making sure it matched up with recorded sales. It's boring work, and I yawned. She chuckled, and commented that she was surprised I was still here. I asked her what she meant, and she said "I" had been working at this theater since college, having been a manager for three years now, and come on, she stopped really liking the job after one. "I tell you", she said, "when you missed those shifts after vacation, I thought you'd just decided to hell with it and walked away.

As tempting as that sounds, I said, I don't exactly have anything else lined up. I didn't mention not wanting to leave Liz's life as much like I found it as I could or not knowing what else she was really qualified for.

She asks if I have to. Ray's making pretty good money, after all, and it would be a good time to take some time off, not let that drama diploma go to waste. Do some auditions, shake the rust off. After all, she says, it's not like this is how Liz always dreamed of being in show business.

Well, I say, it's not like Ray and "I" are married... She says we may as well be, that he and Liz have been dating since their junior year of high school and the only reason it didn't happen sooner is because they didn't want to be seen as dating the only other Korean in the school district because, hey, only other Korean. Well, I say, I'm really not ready to not be earning your own money. Suit yourself, she says.

Ah, well. I'm not totally against leaching off Ray a little - Jake and I are going to quietly borrow his car and head back up to Old Orchard this Wednesday to see what's going on at the inn. I hope we're able to learn something, or at least make sure our lives are in good hands.



Anonymous said...

What happened to the other two guys?? Drew and Mark?

Anonymous said...

I've been wondering that. And you forgot the FBI guy. Maybe he's still on his case, undercover, or something.