When we last left off, an employee of our local movie theater was tapping me on the shoulder, shining her flashlight in the face of the dead-looking dog I had not-so-successfully snuck in to see The Hobbit. (In case you missed part 1, you can get caught up here.)
“Ma’am,” she whispered quietly, “I’m sorry, but you can’t have animals here. It’s very cute, but it’s against the rules. I’m sorry.”
I’m not sure which upset me more — Jolie being outed, or myself appearing old enough to be referred to as “Ma’am”. Either way, I felt ashamed, upset and scurred.
Naturally, I launched into survival mode.
For a brief moment, I considered crafting some sort of fib about Jolie being a service dog. Yet as she was lacking the appropriate vest, I suspected Miss Angry Flashlight wasn’t going to buy it. I quickly glanced over at Scott, who was seated on the opposite side of me. So engrossed in the troll battle flashing across the screen, he was completely oblivious to the events that had just unfolded.
“Hey!” I hissed, “We got caught.”
Scott glanced up at Miss Angry Flashlight as a look of panic spread across his face.
“I’ll take her home.” I offered. “Just call me when the movie’s out and I’ll come pick you up.” Scott had been waiting to see The Hobbit forever–I didn’t want him to miss out on a film he’d anticipated for weeks.
“I don’t have my phone with me.” he gulped.
I let out a sigh. Clearly picking him up on time would be a challenge when he had no way to reach me. (And something told me the agitated patrons behind us wouldn’t be willing to lend him their phone.)
“How about you take her home and I’ll just walk home.” he offered.
“Are you crazy!? Scott…there’s a foot of snow outside and it’s pitch black out! That’s way too dangerous and would take you at least ninety minutes!”
“It’s no big deal.” he argued.
“Plus,” I added, “You’re wearing your new boots. The snow will destroy them.”
(This was all it took to convince him.)
“Katrina — there’s less than an hour left in the movie. Is Jolie’s dog crate in the car?”
“Yeah….” I replied hesitantly.
“Okay–why don’t you just take her out there and wrap her in a bunch of blankets. It’s really not that cold and we’ll be out of here in forty-five minutes anyway.”
I hesitated. Making Jolie wait in the car for that long felt kind of cruel. I could tell she’d grown quite attached to the dwarf character whose red beard was braided like an infinity scarf, and making her miss the rest of the his cinematic debut didn’t seem right. Still, I knew Scott’s idea was the most viable option at this point.
“Okay,” I conceded. “I’ll be right back.”
As quietly as possible I shimmied into my giant winter parka, collected my belongings, and nudged Jolie into the dog purse. I made a beeline for the exit, desperately trying to avoid awkward eye-contact with the upset couple behind us. As I reached the lobby of the theater, Miss Angry Flashlight was waiting for me.
“I’m so sorry we had to ask you to do that, Miss.” Her voice was pleading and genuine. “It’s just that someone complained, so we had to say something. Honestly, I don’t care if she’s in there at all. She was being so good. Is she just a puppy?”
She had won me over. (Mostly because she accepted Jolie, but partly because she had called me “Miss” instead of “Ma’am”.) I’m officially changing her name to Miss Happy Flashlight.
“It’s alright.” I warmly replied. “We shouldn’t have brought her here in the first place. It’s just that, well, we just moved here from Seattle and dogs are allowed pretty much anywhere back there. Sometimes I forget that the rules are a little different here.”
This was (for the most part) a complete lie, but I think it helped my case.
“And I’m really sorry someone complained.” I continued. “We didn’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable, and I feel bad that we put you in an awkward position. I promise she wasn’t making any noise or moving around…I would never bring her in if that was the case. And no, she’s not a puppy. Most people think she is, but she’s actually eight years old!”
“Well, she’s adorable. And again, we really don’t mean to be inhospitable — we’re just obligated to do something if someone files a complaint.”
“It’s no problem,” I assured her. “We were in the wrong, and I’m sorry we caused problems. We have her bed out in the car…I’m just going to get her settled out there and then come in for the rest of the movie, if that’s okay.”
“No problem at all, Miss.”
I ventured into the parking lot, created a cozy nest of towels and blankets in Jolie’s dog crate, and gently tucked her in before returning to my seat. I think the couple behind us was surprised to see me return–I could practically feel their eyes burning holes in the back of my skull as I took in the rest of the film.
Thirty minutes later, they changed seats.
We finished the rest of the movie (It was wonderful, by the way), and returned to the car to find Jolie peacefully sleeping under the towels we had set out for her.
“Scott,” I inquired, “Did you notice that couple moved after I came back in?”
“It was so weird…I had been back for at least a half hour, and then they switched seats…you’d think they would have just moved while Jolie was still in there, right?”
“I don’t know, Katrina…I wasn’t that worried about it.”
“You don’t think they had an allergic reaction or anything…do you?”
“It’s possible.” He responded.
“I mean…could it have been anything serious? Is it possible to like…I don’t know…die from exposure to a dog?”
“Anaphylactic shock is possible, but that’s very rare with pet allergies. I’m talking extremely rare. If anything, they probably just got the sniffles.”
“Oh no!” I lamented, “What did we do? I mean…we couldn’t have killed them, right? If they had gone in to monochromatic shock, we would have been able to tell, right?”
“It’s anaphylactic shock, and yes, we would have been able to tell. When we get home I want you to Google ‘recorded deaths from dog allergies’, okay? It’s pretty much impossible.”
“Okay.” I agreed.
“Plus,” Scott continued, “If any human is capable of dying as a result of sitting ten feet away from Jolie, they probably shouldn’t be alive anyway.”
As soon as we returned to our condo, I began my internet research.
This was a terrible mistake.
My internet fact-finding revealed that their had in fact been one recorded death from a dog allergy.
I’m not going to go into detail as it’s way too inappropriate and disgusting for this blog, but let’s just say it was a very bizarre scenario and leave it at that.
While extremely disturbed by my investigative findings, I could at least take comfort in the fact that we had probably not killed the movie-goers sitting behind us. Offended them? Absolutely. But mistakenly taken their lives? Probably not.
Unfortunately, I had to attempt to fall asleep with the image of the lone dog allergy death dancing vividly through my mind. (I think this might be karma’s way of punishing me for sneaking my dog into the movies.)
So where does this leave us? After five years of sneaking our dog into various public areas, finally getting caught in the act truly had an impact. Mostly, I felt ashamed the we had upset the people sitting behind us. They deserved to enjoy the movie just as much as we did, and I genuinely regret negatively impacting their experience. (For the record, I am not at all mad at these people. I realize that they had a legitimate complaint and that I was deliberately breaking a rule.)
I also felt humiliated — removing your chihuahua from the premises during a Peter Jackson film is the ultimate walk of shame. (Especially when you’re carrying her in a sub-par handbag.)
Finally, I felt challenged. Is taking Jolie on errands and outings appropriate? Her behavior isn’t a problem, but does that justify what we’re doing? Is it a health risk? I mean….carrying a dog in a totally concealed purse through the cereal aisle is no different from showing up to the supermarket with dog hair all over you clothes, right?
I’m continuing to wrestle with these questions and have yet to come up with answers. But one thing is for certain…when I discovered Jolie’s beloved dog purse is back in stock on Amazon, I ordered it in a heartbeat.
Yet there’s one other purchase I’ve had a slightly more difficult time justifying. While ordering it would clearly eliminate the possibility of being kicked out of the movies ever again, I’m just not sure it’s the ethical thing to do.
Who knew you could just order these things off the internet? Surely, Jolie’s presence would never be questioned while donning such an official looking vest. Plus, our Veterinarian did recommend we take her to therapy, so the label would be kind of true.
(I think the answer to all of this is that Katrina is a very bad person.)
On a completely different note, I won an award!
Alright so technically I just gave the award to myself…but I think we all know it doesn’t matter if you earned it — it’s really just about the trophy!!!
(It’s reasoning like this that makes me think I should never become a parent. Or mentor. Or substitute teacher, babysitter or cheerleading coach.)
(Well…maybe cheerleading coach.)