It was a question that adults never tired of asking him. What do you want to do when you grow up? Any hesitation seemed to encourage them to provide a list of possible occupations, like cook, truck driver, builder or baker. None of those jobs appealed to Brian, but he’d learned to let the adults make their suggestions. They tended to speak more than listen. Or they’d assume that he’d want to do the job that his dad did, working in a factory. Brian had been to his dad’s work a few times, but didn’t think it was something that he’d want to do. The rest of his life seemed an age away, but he knew that spending time on a noisy factory floor wasn’t something for him.

What Brian wanted, more than anything else, was to work at the local cinema. Going there was a special treat, and as soon as he was old enough to earn pocket money, he squirrelled his savings away for trips to the movies. Each school day, he walked past the cinema, and he knew the current movies and the session times. He loved the bright posters, and memorised the names of the movie stars. There were some movies that he was too young to see, but as he got older, he was able to go to the Saturday afternoon matinee sessions with his brothers or friends.

He loved this time of the week, when he could go into another world for a couple of hours. From lining up outside to buy a ticket, to walking into the lobby and through the curtained space into the theatre. It was a small space, packed tightly with several rows of chairs on each side. There was a wooden stage at the front, covered in thick, dark red curtains. Brian loved the anticipation and the excitement when those curtains finally swished back before the advertisements played. And when the lights dimmed before the main feature began, he liked to wriggle back on the seat, closing his eyes for a heartbeat before succumbing to the world that filled his senses for the next couple of hours.

During intermission, he’d join the crush of other kids and adults lining up to buy choc tops or chips or chocolates. In winter, there were mugs of hot soup, but Brian preferred to spend his money on things he couldn’t buy at home. And he always stayed until the credits had run right to the end, waiting for the dim lights to soften the gloom of the theatre before he made his way out.

As he grew older, he realised that there mightn’t be a job for him at the nearby theatre. It was run by one of the local families, and everyone had a job or two to do. But he liked to daydream about being in the box office selling tickets, or selling choc tops to kids like the young tacker he’d been. And being able to see every movie that was playing at the theatre. The thought of it made his heart sing.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find other posts with #bloganuary and join in the challenge.

Photo: snack bar at Mt Vic Flicks