It was Academy Awards night, sometime in February or March in the 90s. I was working as a caller in a company that collected movie grosses from various theaters - large and small - all over the United States. Our job was exactly like a 'telemarketer' of the day, except we were not selling any product.
Memory has its own way of deepening and expanding each ancedote. At the time, it may seem trivial and passing. However, with each telling and time the nuances bring more color and significance to any seemingly mundane story.
It was late and we were all tired (about the 12th call it starts to become mind-numbing.) The computer screen brought up the name of a tiny theater - let's call it the Bijou - in rural, let's say, Alabama.
After many rings, a syrupy sweet girlish voice, with a deep Southern accent, stated:
"Bijou Theater, home of a thousand stars in heaven and the late, late night movie- we have them all. What may I do for you this evening?"
I replied, "The is Entertainment Data, calling for your movie grosses for this evening."
"What!! It's you. Calling tonight?!!"
"Of course. Why wouldn't we?"
"But we thought you'd be watching the Academy Awards!"
"Oh yeah, I go to those viewing parties my friends throw most years. But this year, I decided to make some extra bucks and work tonight."
"No, no I meant you all would go down to the theater and see the show in person."
After a moment, I had vision of me and my fellow callers pulling up to the Pantages Theater in the Entertainment Data limo. I'd step out - elegantly - in my Bob Mackie gown and my Harry Winston jewels.
"No, it doesn't work like that. If you're working, we're working. Movie stars and studio executives fight for the right to sit in those seats. I'm afraid you and I are way, way out of the loop."
"But, but surely..."
And so it went for another minute. When the shift was over, I entertained the crew with images of us in Bob Mackie and Harry Winston. But there's more to it than that. Remember last year at the Awards? The guy delivered pizza to Ellen Degeneres (and got a generous tip?)
I think that was brillant because it gave all theater- goers a glimpse into the reality of just how extensive the Awards, and more importantly the motion picture itself, reaches into the lives of we 'little people.' What a powerful memory. And nothing to be mocked or laughed at.
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