It was about 11pm and I was driving home from the movies with my 12-year old daughter. I passed by an average woman in an average coat holding a sign on the street corner. It was white poster board with big black letters that read "Ojo Neven" or something like that. The area was dark and empty of people, she was completely out of place.
Had I been able to understand her sign, I probably would have known about the sobriety checkpoint up ahead, I would have made a quick turn down another street and avoided the confrontation altogether. But her sign was not aimed at English speaking drivers (or sober ones either).
I was abruptly channeled by orange cones into an electric parade of lights, police officers, and Paddy wagons. I should have rolled down my windows ahead of time to let the smell of urine out. It wasn't mine or my daughter's. It belonged to someone else. A person I will never know.
Katia and I had gone to see Avatar that night because her little sister was at a sleepover, my husband was at work, and we were girls on the town! By the time we got into the theatre, the seats were completely full except for two handicap seats which sat by themselves on the bottom level of the stadium seating. As I took my seat, I felt two things: 1) Fear that someone in a wheelchair would come along and reprimand me for being insensitive, consequently remove me from the movie; and 2) I felt wetness on the seat.
I rubbed my hand on the fabric of the seat and it didn't feel damp nor did the back of my jeans. I knew I wasn't imagining moisture, but I made a conscious decision to ignore it because my only other choice would be to take my daughter, leave the theatre, and drive all the way back home. So I sat there. In my little puddle of denial. "Maybe it's Coke?"
About 30 minutes into Avatar, I pulled my leg up to cross it over the other, that's when I felt that breezy cool feeling on the bottom of my thigh. The feeling of dampness I couldn't ignore anymore. The curiosity was too persistent, I had to know for sure. "I'll be right back. I think I sat in something" I said in a hushed movie whisper. As I walked down the hallway with the Vegas style carpeting toward the bathroom, my pants hung from the back of my butt like an old stiff towel. Once I arrived in the stall, I dropped my jeans and sniffed my pants.
Piss confirmation. It was strong and icky and stuck in my nose hairs even after I'd pulled away. I was horrified at the thought of whose it could be. Was it a little child that was forced by his selfish parents to watch an R-rated movie and it scared the piss out of him? Or maybe it was a guy who couldn't hoist himself back into his wheelchair in time to make it to the toilet. Maybe it was a disgruntled employee ... with Hepatitis Type Q!
I grabbed a hard black plastic booster chair on the way back in to solve my problem. I put the booster upon the icky seat and told Katia to sit there. Then I took her seat. She looked confused, so I told her there was pee on the seat. It was like saying "Here, taste this. It tastes like shit!" She wrangled her legs up on the booster so the backs of her knees wouldn't touch any part of the edge of the seat. She looked so pathetic and I knew I was being selfish, but if I sat in the booster, I would have been six feet tall. I tried to watch the movie, but I noticed that Katia looked beyond just uncomfortable, she looked sick. Her head was resting in her hand, her legs were curled up tight next to her chest, and she had a slack expression on her face.
I reached for my iPhone to make sure my other daughter hadn't called while it was on silent, but it wasn't in my sweater pocket or anywhere. Frantically I looked in my purse and in all my pockets. I stuck my head down between my legs to look under the seat, but it was blindingly black. I got down on my knees and tried to feel around under the seat without actually feeling the floor. God help me, I probably exposed myself to Uber Germs down there. I couldn't find it. "I think I left my phone in the bathroom!" I yelled/whispered. Katia looked semi-conscious.
I speed walked down the hallway again with my nasty pee pee pants and burst into the ladies room. With a fucking crazy look on my face and the smell of hot urine wafting around me, I pushed in each and every stall door and tried to find my iPhone. I felt like someone had found it, stolen it, and was currently flipping through the pictures of MY family, and deleting my entire calendar for fun. I felt a little dead inside.
I speed walked up to the lobby and found a worker. She was an employee of about 20 years of age. Her white button up blouse looked like it had been washed in hot water and shrunk to squeeze around her bosom. Never being introduced to an iron or been tucked in. Her hair hung flat and brown around her roundish face and when I asked her if anyone had turned in an iPhone, she looked amused at the suggestion.
I told her it might have been left in one of the stalls, but I had already looked. "Could you help me look under the movie seats?" I pleaded. She kindly started looking for a flashlight. Now wouldn't you think they'd have a flashlight handy? Remember the olden days when all the ushers had flashlights? Not anymore, apparently. I watched her rummage around the back room, the counter area, and finally in one of the offices, she found a super flashlight. It was the kind that your husband would buy at Costco. I gasped at the thought of her (or me) turning on that floodlight inside the movie theatre during Avatar. Luckily, when she tried to turn it on, it was out of batteries. Thank you God! Then she found a little mag light and we started down the hallway.
"This has been a horrible night; first I pee all over my pants because the seat we're in has pee in it. I think my daughter's getting sick. Then I loose my iPhone ..." I started to tear up "Do you know how many pictures I have in that? And the calendar? My husband's going to kill me!" I said. "You're having a really bad night aren't you?" Said the sweet girl. "Yes. I am."
Boy was Katia surprised when I showed up with a lady and a flashlight and we dropped to our knees and started peering under her seat. Quickly the girl pulled her arm out and, in her hand, was my iPhone. I couldn't help it, I hugged her around her neck with my eyes closed. It wasn't one of those acquaintance hugs, either. It was a long-lost sister kind of hug. "Oh thank you, thank you" I whispered in her ear. She looked proud of herself for saving my life, and offered to bring us a plastic bag to sit on.
A few minutes later, she returned with a big white plastic trash bag. She shook it out flat and then laid it on the seat. I moved over to sit on the plastic but Katia refused to sit back down. Instead, she stood in the entrance way, right next to the security guard who had decided he wanted to watch Avatar, too.
At this point, I imagine the scenario from the other patrons' perspective: She gets up and runs out a couple of times for long periods of time. When she returns, she makes her grown daughter sit in a booster chair. She sticks her head between her legs and then leaves again and returns with an employee and a flashlight and start looking under the seats for something. She attacks the usher around her neck. She sits on white plastic. Then her daughter is being detained with a security guard in the hallway.
After two and a half hours, Avatar finally ended and I grabbed Katia by the hand and ran like hell before anyone could look at us. I had to lay down a car blanket on my seat for the ride home. It was cold and rainy, Katia was obviously very ill, and I had the heater on. It smelled like hot old piss. Someone elses piss. The car filled up with the foul sweet aroma as I drove a little fast toward home.
"Had anything to drink tonight?" the officer asks, as the stench bursts out of the window I roll down.