It’s a shame that I haven’t been able to forget about this incident. One day not long ago my best friend and I were sitting in a movie theatre about to watch Inside Out. As we sat and waited for the movie to start a father walked in with his daughter, who was clearly excited to see the colourful characters on screen. I say “clearly excited” because unlike you or I, she didn’t express her excitement by squealing with Joy or saying “Daddy I can’t wait for the movie to start”. No, she made loud noises and flapped her hands. This girl had a developmental disability. I knew this because I’ve seen many boys and girls like her before. I understood.
For much of the 5–10 minutes before the movie started the girl was restless, darting from seat to seat trying to find the perfect one. The father obviously used to her behaviour, calmly took his own seat giving his daughter her independence, observing from a distance. As did I. Unfortunately, one of the seats she chose to dart to was in front of an older gentleman. As the girl sat in the seat in front of him and rocked her head side to side, the man sitting behind her steadily grew impatient and eventually moved to another seat. Of course the little girl was going to have none of that! She moved once again sitting close to him, rocking, until the impatient man moved once again. I watched as these two played musical chairs with each other for a few minutes, and so did the girl’s father. Nothing was said.
At this point the man was obviously fed up. He got up turned to the father and said, “I know she has a disability, but it’s a shame”. What happened afterward is how I would expect anyone to react if his or her child were called “a shame”. A shouting match began; a slew of expletives we’re thrown with the father finally demanding that the man be thrown out of the theatre. The theatre manager came in to ask what happened and it was one man’s word against the other. A lot was said. The manager finally asked the crowd if anyone saw what happened. Once again, nothing was said.
The disgruntled man ended up sitting at the back of the room, the girl at the front, and the father in the middle. As soon as the clip came on asking us to turn off our cellphones the little girl was quiet. As soon as the Pixar lamp jumped across the screen the little girl did not move an inch. And when Bing Bong sacrificed himself to save Joy we all shed a tear. It’s a shame that had to happen. It’s a shame the man didn’t wait until the movie started to say nothing. It’s a shame nothing was said.