Grand Theft Auto

theater parking lot 1One hot, muggy Saturday afternoon in the summer of August, 2009, my husband and I decided we needed to get out of the house and into some air conditioning. Our old house wasn’t equipped with a central air conditioning unit yet, and this particular Minnesota summer had been unusually uncomfortable.

So we thought it would be a great idea to spend a few hours in an air-conditioned movie theater. I don’t remember which movie we viewed, but I do remember the feeling of being there. It was a lovely treat, sitting in the cool theater which smelled of buttery popcorn and chocolate. It was a welcome respite; those couple of hours of residing in the cool, air-conditioned theater, lost in a world of make-believe.

When the movie finished, I dreaded having to leave because I knew it meant returning home to face the stifling, muggy heat of our house. However, I knew the time had to come sooner or later, so I resigned myself to the fact that I might as well make the best of it.

We strolled out of the theater together, hand in hand, moving slowly behind the rest of the crowd, in no hurry to go back out into the heat. The closer and closer we came to the exit door, the more slowly we strolled. Eventually we stepped outside into the sultry warmth, and it was not pleasant. It was the kind of temperature change that practically hit you in the face as you came out through the door.

As we walked towards our car, we discussed going out to dinner, ambling leisurely down the aisle in the parking lot, in no hurry to locate our car. The brief relief from the heat had put both of us into a good mood.

In no time at all, we arrived at the spot where our mini-van was parked. I had been driving the family van ever since we had bought it brand-new six years before, and she was still running like a champ. When we were together, my husband preferred to drive — some sort of male ego thing, I suppose — so I always let him. He used the automatic key unlock mechanism hanging from his key chain when we were about four feet away from the car.

I still was in no hurry to step into our van, because I knew how warm it would be on the inside. Even as I opened the van door, I could feel the even warmer air of the van quickly escape. I slowly sat down in the passenger’s seat just as my husband was getting into the driver’s seat. I sat there for a moment and then, at the same time, my husband and I looked at each other and we said in unison, “This isn’t our van!”

You have never seen two adults exit a vehicle faster than we did at this particular moment in time! We quickly closed the doors and walked speedily away, hoping the owner was nowhere nearby. We thought for sure we would be arrested for grand theft auto! Fortunately for us, the owner must have still been inside the theater watching a different film.

Once we located our mini-van and were safely seated inside, my husband turned on the engine, and we laughed so hard that we didn’t even notice the steamy temperature inside our van.

But it’s a good thing we weren’t arrested. I don’t know if I could have done hard time in prison. But I do wonder … are prisons air-conditioned?






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