Melissa’s Night at the Movies


Dear Ken,

When I saw the advertisement for the movie “Roger Rabbit,” I couldn’t believe it was playing again. I just knew I had to go see it! I shouted for Harshan to come in to the room. I got up to turn up the volume on the television set.

“What is it, dear?” came my mother’s voice from the kitchen. She and Harshan were having a little chat.

“There’s a preview of “Roger Rabbit” on!” I shouted over the din, “He’s got to see this!” I could hear the noise of chairs scraping right away.

Mother and Harshan raced each other into the den. Mother perched herself on the arm of chair and wiped her hands on a towel. Harshan sat down right next to me on the sofa, and we watched the review.

“That is a clever movie,” Harshan said, still entranced by the visual effects, “I would really like to see that.”

So we got out the Chicago Tribune and searched for a theater and a time near home.

“There it is!” said Harshan triumphantly, his finger nearly poking a hole in the newspaper. “That’s not too far from here, is it?”

“Let me see,” I said. Sure enough, it was close by. “We’re too late for the 5:00 o’clock showing,” I said, reading on, “but we could go at 10:00 tonight!”

“That’s a very good idea,” Mother volunteered, “It’s long past my bedtime, but at least the crowds won’t be too bad.”

So we went to the ten o’clock showing, but we didn’t avoid much in crowds! We still had to stand in line for at least a hexacentury.

“Two adults, please,” I said through the hole in the thick glass. Harshan watched with interest as I fished the tickets out of the dispenser. Then we handed our tickets to an attendant who tore them in half and returned the stubs to us.

“What is the purpose of that thick glass?” Harshan wondered as we wandered to the refreshment stand.

“Oh, that just protects the ticket seller from the crowd,” I explained, my mind on popcorn and other goodies, “The crowd could surge, or someone could try to rob the till.”

“Oh,” he said quietly. “Can things like that really happen?” he asked in a quiet voice.

I didn’t have a chance to answer that question, because it was my turn at the refreshment stand. The wonderful smell of fresh buttered popcorn really made the evening complete. I ordered a large popcorn bucket and two soft drinks—although the price would have made a tidy blackmail sum.

Then we made our way to the theater doors and down the aisle to the center. I couldn’t resist, so I started on the popcorn before we were even seated. We excused ourselves past the people who were already seated.

Harshan didn’t care much for the popcorn, but as the evening progressed, he tended to eat more and more of it. Between the two of us, we managed to consume the whole thing before the movie was even half over. By the time the detective rode into to “Toon Town” in the “Toon Car” that drove itself, the popcorn was completely gone. It was a delightful movie, and Harshan enjoyed it as much as I did.

“I do vaguely remember that it had a good plot,” he remarked, as we groped our way in the semi-darkness towards the exit, “but I really don’t care. It was a wonderful delight for the eyes.”

Just as we were making our way out of the theater, we ran into some friends of mine.

“Melissa Franklin!” came a shout. It was Isabelle! She was accompanied by a woman that I did not recognize. “Where have you been? Everybody’s been looking for you for months! And who is the incredibly handsome guy with you? A movie star?” There was a ton of envy and a tinge of sarcasm in her voice.

“Oh, I’ve been away on a little trip,” I replied diffidently. Harshan began to snicker at my understatement, but I gave him a swift, but gentle kick in the shins. “Actually, it’s ‘Melissa Lahtissimon’ now. I got married on my trip! Let me introduce you to my husband, Harshan Lahtissimon.”

“I am very charmed to meet you,” Harshan interjected politely and shook hands, Earth-style.

“My goodness!” Isabelle shrieked, “Things HAVE changed a lot since I’ve seen you last. I wish you both the best! We’ll all have to get together and get up-to-date!”

“Wednesday evening at 8:00 would be fine,” Harshan suggested, not realizing that the request was a polite formality devoid of any meaning. I can always explain it later to Harshan. Isabelle returned his comment with a blank stare, but I picked up the ball.

“We’ll have to do that,” I said, in my best squeally schoolgirl tone. Changing the topic slightly, I said, “I’ve introduced you to my new husband, who’s that you’ve got tagging along?

“Oh, this is Mary!” said Isabelle, pushing Mary into the group. Mary just smiled with awkward politeness. “She’s my cousin, visiting here from St. Louis.”

“I am very glad to make your acquaintance,” Mary said, extending her hand first to me and then to Harshan. Again, Harshan had no trouble shaking hands instead of hugging; he’s absorbing the local customs as easily as he is picking up the English language.

I envy him. I wish I had had his learning speed when I first struggled to learn Thorgelfaynese! But Harshan points out that the more languages you learn, the easier it is to add one. English was his fifth; Thorgelfaynese was really only my second language, since I never learned Russian in college well enough to be fluent.

“Oh, my goodness!” exclaimed Mary, “Hold still! I think there is something in your eye.” She reached out and brushed back my hair, which normally hangs over the eye with the defective eyelid. Then she saw that there was something wrong with my eyelid—my infamous birth defect. “What’s wrong with your eye?” she asked, and I instantly wished that she had not been so loud.

It has been a long time since this sort of thing has happened, and all the horrible memories of rejection and name-calling came crashing in on me. I was determined not to cry, but I was totally undone. I just turned and grabbed Harshan.

Harshan hugged me very tenderly. It wasn’t a sexual caress, it was a loving caress, like a father to a hurt child. “Epalaskedo šün kar šün,” he soothed. I could smell his skin and his hair, and his voice sounded very different so close.

“Melissa’s eyes are beautiful,” he said to the two, gently lecturing, “they are the loveliest color I have every seen. When I look into Melissa’s eyes, I see who Melissa really is—a loving and caring wife, and an extraordinarily compassionate Human. When I look into Melissa’s eyes, and see all that, it makes me wish that I could be as loving and as caring as she is.” He pushed me gently away, and brushed my hair with his hand. His blue eyes caressed my face. “I just hope that I will be as good a husband to Melissa, as Melissa is a wife to me.” Then he turned and faced the two solemn women. “There is nothing wrong with her eyes.”

My, his English has improved!

Isabelle and Mary were very much ashamed of themselves, and they showed it in their awkward stance.

“I’m so sorry, Melissa,” Mary choked out, “I didn’t mean it that way!” She looked at Harshan admiringly through puddly eyes, “I just hope that I will someday find someone like your husband.”

“I know you didn’t mean it badly,” I said, “To be honest, even though I knew it was an accident, it still hurt me very much. But it’s all gone and forgiven now!”

Harshan, Isabelle, Mary and I had a great time at an all night restaurant. (I never realized how good cheesecake tastes!) Then we parted company and went home.

And I thank my lucky star—Tau Ceti, of course—that I have as fabulous a husband as Harshan Lahtissimon.

Your friend as always,
Melissa Lahtissimon