I spent the day with my son. Here's what we did.
Around 11 o'clock in the morning, there was a knock at our front door. As I approached the door, I could see the top of my son's head. When I opened the door, he was fumbling with a small ring of keys. He explained that he had tried several on the ring but none were successful in unlocking the door. "I guess I don't have a key to your house anymore.," he shrugged. Some time ago, he had lost a set of keys when he hit an errant pothole while biking through center city Philadelphia where he lives. He was happy to come into the house and seemed uninterested in a replacement key.
Next on our agenda was a quick stop at a CVS to grab a small pack of tissues to alleviate the sneezing that accompanies my son's severe summer allergies. I was surprised when he came out of the store with a large package of Haribo gummies along with the tissues. Okay, maybe I wasn't that surprised.
Our major planned activity for the day was going to the movies, something I have not done since Christmas Day 2019, when my wife and I subjected ourselves to the uncomfortably grueling Adam Sandler crime drama Uncut Gems. The only thing I remember about that movie was checking my watch every five minutes during the entire 135 minute run time. Then a global pandemic hit, keeping everyone in their homes and movie theatres locked up tight. Now, with abundant vaccinations and COVID-19 cases on the decline, movie theatres are welcoming folks back.
We had some time to kill before the start time of the movie we had chosen, so we parked and spotted an arcade in the same shopping center as the theater. The concept was pretty innovative. Instead of quarters and change machines, all machines were set on "free play." Players pay a flat rate to play during specific time allotments. For three bucks, my son played a few current and classic video games and pinball machines before the cashier-issued timer sprang to life with a pattern of blinking lights. My son finished defeating the Death Star on the Star Wars pinball game he had selected and we left our little distraction to find a new distraction to eat up more time.
Speaking of "eat," that was exactly what my son suggested. We headed over to hometown favorite Wawa where he ordered the smallest sandwich I had ever seen and I got a cup of coffee. We sat in my car and talked about all sorts of stuff until we figured it was time to venture into the theater.
The theater had used their time during the pandemic to do a bit of remodeling, specifically they completely eliminated and removed their box office. The now-cavernous lobby now features an array of self-serve kiosks on which tickets came be obtained with a swipe of a credit card and a few touches on the screen... sort of like check-in at an airport. A lone usher — someone in the theater who still has a job — scanned the barcode on my son's phone that served as our tickets. He didn't even bat an eye at the "outside beverages" we were blatantly carrying into the theater. We found the correct theater and sat outside on an upholstered bench until showtime.
"Sparks" — who have been making incredible, experimental and influential music for 50 years. Never heard of them? I didn't think so. Their career is lovingly chronicled, punctuated by comments from famous fans and fellow musicians. The highlights, the lowlights and everything in between are presented in an engaging format that switches between concert footage, studio interviews, stock film and animation. It's two and a half hours long and I didn't check my watch once. My son and I are both long-time Sparks fans, even having the opportunity to see the band twice. They rarely tour in the United States and I remember at their 2013 show in Philadelphia saying to myself "I never thought I'd ever see this band." When I saw them again in 2015 with the band Franz Ferdinand, I thought the same thing. (My son took me to both of those shows.) We found our seats and when the theater lights dimmed and the film began, we were joined by five more people. It was like a private screening — for all of us. At the film's conclusion, I half-expected an usher to ask, "Did you five folks enjoy yourselves?"
When the film was over and the lights came back on, I informed my son that I needed to use the bathroom for the last hour and a half. Throughout the course of the documentary, each and every one of Sparks' 25 albums are highlighted. I was beginning to panic when I saw they were only up to the albums from the 80s. But, alas... I made it. I realized I have gotten very spoiled by the "pause" button on my cable TV remote.
Just a day. But a good day.