I found the correct theater myself. The minute I walked in and saw the bank of strollers parked against the wall, I knew I was in the right place. Feeling a little conspicuous because I was the only adult in the place without children, I found a seat near the back. The room was abuzz with the chatter of people with small children who haven't seen one another since the last [fill in the blank with name of event] and who actually don't know one another that well. There was a lot of "Oh, my gosh, Amber's hair has gotten so long!" and "How's the home schooling going?" and "Did you guys take pictures with Larry and Bob outside?"
This last one, of course, rankled me, owing to my own lack of vegetable face time.
"We only have 10 minutes to go!" said an excited man as he clasped his hands together. I think he did this for the benefit of his kids, but I'm not really sure. Then everything started getting surreal. A kid who must have been about five years old walked by me and exclaimed, in a thick British accent, "Oh, it's just like a real movie theater!" VeggieTales words and images started flashing on the screen, including one that said, "Clap if you have a water buffalo" and featured Larry the cucumber and one that said, "With God's help, little guys can do big things, too" featuring a picture of a phallic-looking asparagus with bulging eyes and a flesh-colored baseball cap.
Maybe I'm going to hell. I'm sure it'll be hot and filled with vegetables.
Before the screening began, one of the guys in Hawaiian shirts stood at the front and began a hard sell for Mission Viejo- and Irvine-based Sonshine Christian store ("serving Christ by serving you for 20 years"), which had hosted the event and was having a 50 percent off sale "today only" on the NIV Kid's Adventure Bible "which is the No. 1-selling children's hardback bible!"
"Maybe your child has lost his bible or can't find his bible," he prattled in that syrupy voice reserved for hawking shit on late-night TV and also convincing children to do things they don't really want to do. The QVC-style pitch went on for so long that I almost tuned out the part where he said Larry and Bob would be at the Irvine store immediately (emphasis added) after the screening.
Dammitdammitdammit! I wasn't going to see the vegetables after all, not unless I was willing to drive to the Christian store, which I wasn't. After the screening—a screening filled with predictably phallic, fleshy-looking, platitude-spouting vegetables—I walked past the largest merchandise display I've ever seen in a movie theater. There were little jackets, big jackets, stuffed vegetables, magnets, bibles, pencils, T-shirts, videos, CDs. You name it, it was there, and in order to leave the theater, you had to walk by it. I considered rummaging around, but the idea of spending any more time ass-high in Christian children and their very-tired-looking parents left me cold. Plus, I'd been stood up by a very large cucumber and tomato, so while I was pretending to be a sport about it, I was crying on the inside.