I'm gonna tell you right now — nothing really happens in this particular post. And that's the point.
While a lot of people we know were celebrating Christmas, Mrs. P and I carried on the traditional Jewish alternative of going to the movies and eating Chinese food. If you remember, last year's exercise was quite an endeavor. The roads were eerily empty, however the theater was jam-packed with fellow "Chosen People" carrying on the annual "not-our-holiday" tradition. And when we left the movie for our local Chinese restaurant, that, too, turned out to be the destination of everyone we ran into at the theater.
This year, the situation was odd, in a "nothing is odd" sort of way. First of all, there was traffic, not a lot, but it was something we did not expect to encounter. We passed a Dunkin Donuts displaying an illuminated "OPEN" sign, its parking lot surprisingly sporting several cars. Further on our route, we passed a Wawa, its parking lot filled and its multi-pump, self-serve gas station area suitably bustling with activity. Across the street at the 24-hour CVS pharmacy, groups of customers strolled toward the entrance, while, through the large glass windows, more shoppers could be seen walking the aisles. We drove past several more Dunkin Donuts and gas stations, all brightly lit and doing obvious business.
The parking lot at the theater was crowded but we found a space pretty quickly. With our pre-purchased, "print-at-home" tickets in hand ("skip the box office and proceed right to the ticket-taker podium" as the printout instructed), we entered at the "Ticket Holders" door. The box-office line (that we passed) was orderly. The concession stand lines were uncharacteristically sparse. We were directed to Auditorium 20, where our selection, Tim Burton's Big Eyes, would be screened at 4:10 pm. When we entered the darkened theater, we were taken aback by the sight of just one other couple quietly chatting in their seats. My wife and I climbed the aisle to the top row of the stadium-style seating and chose a spot just under the projection booth window. As the appointed start time approached, the place filled in, but by the time the film began, there were plenty unoccupied seats. Plenty.
After the show, I phoned our order in to our regular Chinese restaurant. My call was answered by a friendly, leisurely "hello." Last year, it took two calls to the frantic woman on the other end of the phone line. Fifteen minutes later, I was bounding out of my wife's car to pick up our dinner. The place looked like it does on any random Thursday evening, as opposed to the sea of annoyed diners and hectic atmosphere that greeted me last year. My order was bagged and ready to go when I arrived. And it was correct to the very last noodle. We headed home and ate. And that was that.
Maybe, with more stores and businesses opening up on Christmas and treating it as just another retail day, the novelty of "a movie and Chinese food" isn't nearly as "novel" as it once was.
I'll let you know next year.