Reflection on I

IEDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, an exercise in self-flagellation we bloggers inflict upon ourselves to teach us discipline as writers and to build audience. During the month of April, I’ll be posting 26 times, once for every letter in the alphabet. Looking on the bright side, we can each be thankful this is an English language exercise and not Khmer, the language of Cambodia, which sets the world record with a 74-character alphabet! After some misgivings, I’ve decided to proceed with my initial idea of blogging about the special people in my life whose names begin with the appropriate letter. There will be difficulties, like having more than one special person whose names begin with the same letter, forcing me to choose. And then there are those letters — O, Q and X among them — where no name springs readily to mind. What will I do then? We’ll have to wait and see!

intermission-sound-of-music

I is for Intermission

Ordinarily, intermissions don’t come until the halfway point, but during the A-to-Z Challenge, I’ve decided to take it early. Actually, the only people taking a break will be my followers, who won’t have to read about any special people today. I’ve already racked my brain, and there are no “I” names that rise to the occasion.

I’ve decided instead to write about the intermission itself, but if you’re unfamiliar with my writing style, don’t be surprised if there’s a detour or two along the way.

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, I learned early to have a chip on my shoulder. Oh sure, we lived in a cozy white clapboard house with black trim, a vegetable garden, and lots of shady sycamore and pecan trees, but you see, we lived on the South Side, and we felt decidedly underprivileged compared to those snobs on the North Side.

Floyd's Dairy Bar on Goliad Road was a happening place in the '60s and '70s when I was growing up. I wonder if it's still there.
Floyd’s Dairy Bar on Goliad Road was a happening place in the ’60s and ’70s when I was growing up. I wonder if it’s still there?

Those North Siders might have more money and fancy things, but by god, we South Siders were the real San Antonians, or so we thought. We had Floyd’s Dairy Bar, with some of the best hamburgers on the planet. We had the “Insane Asylum” (a.k.a. the state mental hospital) with a siren that sounded whenever a patient escaped. We had “The Big M” sign outside of McCreless Mall, and if all that wasn’t enough, we also had The Donkey Woman Legend, so those danged North Siders could keep their highfalutin’ airs to themselves, we figured.

But there was no denying that San Antonio was growing to the north, and sometimes we would venture into enemy territory. I remember being awestruck the first time we drove across town to watch The Sound of Music at the brand new General Cinema theaters inside the North Siders’ own edifice to commercialism, North Star Mall, a highfalutin’ name if there ever was one.

It was 1965, and when my mother, sister and I walked into that mall, I felt like we were three rubes invading the Shining City on the Hill. We walked past all kinds of upscale shops, and salivated at the tantalizing aromas coming from Mr. Dunderbak’s Bavarian Pantry. But it all paled next to the splendor of the new movie theater, with its reclining, red-upholstered seats, and a recessed screen that was magically spotlighted in blue. The whole effect looked like something from outer space, and we sure as hell had nothing like it on the South Side.

I was 9 years old when The Sound of Music opened, which was too young to understand that as a male, I was supposed to hate all musicals. In fact, I loved the movie — still do — and was really getting into it when all off a sudden, these big gold letters flashed onto the screen. The letters spelled:

INTERMISSION

I had no idea what an intermission was. I was just a young rube, after all, and I thought the movie was over, but Mama told me there was still more to come, and now we could take a break. It was all just grand — a rest period in the middle of a movie — who would believe it?

Of course all words have definitions, but some words have personal meanings not found in any dictionary. That’s why, in my own rambling style, I’m telling you that for me, “intermission” is one of those words. When “intermission” flashes through the lens of my mental projector, I’m transported through space and time to the highfalutin’ North Side, where I see raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen  . . .

Wait, wait, stop! Hold it! Cut! I can’t do this, it’s a lie!

Look, I’m really sorry! I know, I know I told you I wouldn’t write about special people today, but darn it, I’ve gone and done it again!

See, the truth is that during the golden-lettered pause of any intermission, it’s not cream-colored ponies or crisp apple strudel that I see. Nope, I see two of my real favorite things — Mama and my sister — when we were young, healthy, and blissfully ignorant of what was to come, both for the Von Trapps . . . and for us.

During intermission, time stops. During intermission, there is no need to think about brown-shirted monsters or any other sad thing, because none of that stuff has happened yet. During intermission, we can think about pleasant things, like refilling our popcorn bucket, or just rocking back and forth in these futuristic, red-upholstered seats.

Only when intermission is over will the house lights dim and the film advance through the sprockets, moving inexorably onto the take-up reel until that moment when some other big letters splash onto the screen, letters that spell:

The End

But all that’s coming later, much, much later. Intermission isn’t over, no, not yet! The lights are still shining brightly. People are chatting, still waiting for the show to begin again.

Let’s not be in too much of a hurry, okay? Step away from the projector!

Don’t let intermission be over!

Oh, please don’t let it be over!

The_Sound_of_Music_Julie_Andrews_as_Maria2

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31 Comments

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  1. I never went to a movie with an intermission, but I like the intermission music played on old movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found your take on the intermission very interesting – of course your writing style is very entertaining. In India, there was a monologue by a very popular actor which quickly caught the imagination of the people. The line goes something like this – ‘picture abhi baaki hai mere dost’ or loosely, ‘the picture isnt over yet my friend’. The sentiment is a dig and an ode to typical Hindi movies which believe in happy endings and if by chance, the ending isnt happy, then my friend it just means that the picture isnt over yet! I wait eagerly for the intermission to end – cheers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to love intermission as a kid and always admired the ice-cream sellers in their cute uniforms. Nowadays there aren’t intermissions – just loads of irritating adverts before the movie begins. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you’ve earned a well deserved intermission. Looking forward to the rest of the show.

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/i-is-for-island-nancy-drew-investigates.html

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Deborah Farrisi April 11, 2016 — 7:50 am

    I think I would have picked Idiots. We all have known a few of those. but, I guess you want to be positive. Nice memories of your home town though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. At first I thought I must have picked the wrong day to read your blog if you were taking a break from normal posting but I’m glad I kept reading. It’s one of the most entertaining and interesting posts I’ve read so far. Love your reflections on intermission. I can’t say I’ve ever thought much about it but now, when I come across one, I will!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really enjoyed this fond remembrance! A very special childhood memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Urgh, I miss the days when there were intermissions in films.
    Thank you for such a great blog post, I look forward to reading more from you. I found you on the A-Z challenge list

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As I meander toward my 70s, I truly miss movie intermissions — especially if I’ve been sipping on one of those giant half-gallon sodas during the first half. I can usually control my temper, but my bladder is another matter.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I felt an undercurrent of melancholy reading this lovely, well written post. Nostalgia for lost innocence, unawareness of sadness waiting ahead? A beautiful metaphor for life itself, that cinema and the viewing of a landmark film. Enjoyed reading about your intermission. Brilliant take on I.

    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana.
    Ninja Minion, A-Z 2016
    Madly-in-Verse

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You cracked me up! this was fun and insightful, if only everyone was so lucky to love their mama and sister, I am sure some of your readers out there might have a thing or two to say about their family if they dared. lol, never watch a movie with intermissions but I dare say I would have fallen asleep

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is one of my faces. Your reflections on your own life would make a great novel.

    Liked by 1 person

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