I always knew parenthood was going to be a life-altering experience, but I remain surprised in the random, subtle ways being a father has changed me. The latest example came tonight, when my buddy Franklin and I went to see a movie (Pig starring Nicolas Cage, if you were curious).
As a longtime movie theater fan (and former decade-plus employee in the industry), I have absolutely developed a host of pet peeves related to the cinema-going experience. People who walk up to the box office window and ask, “What’s playing?” as though the films and showtimes aren’t clearly posted directly above. Parents who bring small children to R-rated movies. Conversely, seniors who will buy a ticket to a movie titled Bloodgame: Drippy Limbs a-Flyin’ and come out an hour in complaining about the violence. People who can’t be bothered to even attempt to clean up after themselves. The list is really endless.
And yet there’s evidently one thing on that list I don’t care about so much anymore. One of the physiological aspects of parenthood that no one tells you about it that your ability to completely tune out environmental noises increases tenfold. Honestly, it makes sense — you’d likely lose your mind if you weren’t able to ignore your child at least some of the time. The same holds true for me and the dreaded ringing of a cell phone now. You could be sitting in a movie theater with a single other person and you can be DAMN sure ONE of you will 1) have neglected to turn your cell phone off and 2) receive a call about halfway through the film. There is inevitably one person in every movie that will fill this role.
And that was the case tonight during Pig, where a cell phone went off around the one hour mark. Typically, I would tense up, groan, fight to keep my attention focused on the screen, then start looking around the auditorium for the dumbs who ignored multiple warnings during the previews imploring him/her to shut the damn phone off. Tonight though? It barely ever registered with me.
I’ve had to condition myself to tune out the madness around me just to watch a five-minute video at home, and it seems this skill is useful whether my family is involved in the noise or not!