Somehow, the screening of Baraka came to an end. A slow clapping noise began in the utmost back row of the theatre, presumably from the projectionist chamber. The sound slowly grew, both in volume and rhythm. A new pair of clapping hands joined in. Then another, and another, until every single member of the audience was caught up in the applause. Everyone inside the room stood up and roared with excitement. I’m not quite sure, due to the smokescreen covering every inch of the surrounding obscurity into a greenish obscurity, but I swear even the couple of underdressed hobos that were making “love noises” during the whole film, clapped and roared. Right there, on theatre number four, Baraka was being the object of a standing ovation from everyone that had just seen it. Everyone, that is, except me.
I remained seated. While other people applauded Fricke’s genius, I did nothing but stare directly into the screen, hoping my anger would be powerful enough to burn it from afar. I didn’t even blink for three whole minutes. My rage jammed my eyelids in place and dilated my nostrils. However, my mouth, being the silent victim of another chemical substance in the air, was fixed in a half-open continuous goofy smile.
“So,” my dad asked me as we were walking towards the car, “how did you like the film, huh? Pretty awesome, right? I saw you didn’t stand up to acclaim the movie. What gives? You were so flabbergasted by the life changing experience, weren’t you?”
“Well,” I said trying to fight back the fake smile all the indirect ganja smoking gave me, “I think it looked pretty.”
“’It looked pretty’? That’s all you have to say about it? That’s it?!”
“What else do you want me to say? It looked pretty. What, do you think it looked ugly?”
“That’s not it. Tell me, what did you feel while watching it?!”
“I… Well… Nothing, really…”
My dad came to a halt.
“Nothing?” he screamed. “Nothing?! What do you mean nothing?! How can you feel nothing?! What are you, dead?!”
The other twenty people that had just recently smoked their time away inside the movie theatre noticed the little scene we were performing. Instead of acting like regular people by minding their own business and walking away, they started surrounding us. It was elementary school fighting ring once again, except everyone implicated had bloodshot eyes before any punch had been thrown.
“I… well… when they were burning the chickens, I felt bad for them.”
“Ok, that’s something. What else did you feel, son? You felt enlightened?”
“I felt…” But I stopped. The lifelessness of my dad’s eyeballs let me know it’d be a terrible idea to finish the sentence and confess how I really felt. Every pair of red eyes was fixed to my lips, expectant, craving the next syllable that came out of my mouth. Not a single sound was uttered by the crowd, nor a single nose breathed in. The only noise available to our ears was a distant thunderous roar and a guy coughing from too much weed consumption.
“You felt what?!” urged a woman with what looked like a dissected shit-zu rolling around on her head.
“You what?” said a guy with a Dhali-esque moustache that moved rhythmically by its own, following an unheard song.
“Tell us! You owe us and reverend Ron Fricke at least so! What did you feel?” yelled a man whose color scheme was moving constantly in and out of the line art of his squiggly body.
“I… I…” the lightning and thunder show continued. Everything around me was moving slowly, leaving blurry imprints of their previous location behind them.
“Tell us, dammit!” insisted a pair of anthropomorphic pants with the face of a seal.
“I was bored out of my mind, okay?” I finally snapped. “It sucked.”
“What?! Tell me that was a joke, son!”
“No, it wasn’t. What was a joke was that that thing is considered a movie!”
“What would you know about movies? You spend all day watching Disney crap at home!”
“May be, but I know about having fun, alright? And that was, hands down, the single most awful experience of my life! Nothing can be as boring as what you just forced me to watch right now! I have spent an entire afternoon watching grass grow, and you know it because you forced me to do it last week, and it was a thousand times more exciting that whatever this crap was supposed to be. Whoever did that melon farmer film is an idiot with a coal dark pigs knuckle of a brain” Still, all these years later, my sentiment has not changed a beat. I stand by my infantile insults.
“Oh, no, he didn’t!” was the reverberated response that came out of almost two dozens of throats.
“Son, did you just insult Ron Fricke, master of time and meditation, creator of photography and journalist of mother Earth’s spirituality? Did you?”
“Yes, I insulted whoever that guy is and every single one of you demented hamsters that adore him!”
A collective gasp turned off the volume of the whole Earth. The crowd circle took a step back, so as to prevent any direct contact with me.
“You take that back, son! You take that back and I will not regret buying you an overpriced movie ticket on a Tuesday night!”
“I won’t take it back. That thing was boring and whoever did it is as big a pretentious blouse as whoever enjoyed it.” A bearded man had a pretended heart attack and fell down to the ground. The woman beside him yelled her lungs out while running in circles. Everyone else walked away sobbing, trying to stop the tears in their eyes. For a second there I thought I may have overdone it with the derogatory babble.
“Then, starting today,” my dad told me as sternly as ever, “me, officialy, has no son.” I wanted to correct his terrible grammar, but a nearby thunder shut me up. Just like that, he walked up to the car, started the engine and drove away. He left me, his eight-year old son, alone in a parking lot, at midnight.
I waited for his return for almost an hour, desperately trying to transform my stoned smile into any other expression I could. But he never came and my mouth never caved. The rain poured down and I was high, mad, and tired; a terrible combination for such a young heart. When I knew it was up to me to return home, I forced my feet to walk the 2.5 miles that separated me from my bedroom. Except for the neighbor’s son, Jamie Thicke, flashing me from his garden, I found no obstacle during my travel. It didn’t matter that I was soaking wet and smelling worst than a damp cat, I went right up to my bed and fell asleep, swearing to stay away from movies for the rest of my life.
For the following month, my father and I had no verbal communication with each other. Our only exchanges during that period of time were a couple of looks that conveyed our anger to one another. Not only that, but I was forced to paint the walls of our basement and literally watch the paint dry out. It was, without a doubt, a more exciting experience than watching Baraka. I still do that, watch paint dry, every now and then, when feeling extremely bored.