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The Suburbanite
  • Jim Hillibish: It’s ‘Slime from the Balcony’ at the Palace

  • We didn’t go for the movies. It was that mayhem in the balcony that riveted us.

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  • My school crowd was well-scrubbed 9-year-olds who never got into trouble -- alone. When we were together on a Saturday afternoon at the Palace downtown, it was critical mass.
    You would not want to be sitting in front of us. We were hellions on Junior Mints.
    Jeremy discovered “The Blob” in Photoplay magazine. Imagine a sticky mass of phlegm consuming the world to a faintly rock-and-roll soundtrack. No way would our mothers allow us to witness this mess at the Palace.
    My mother between the holidays in 1958 was pleasantly surprised at my sudden interest in the culinary arts. I’d asked her how to make Jell-O. She showed me all her tricks, perhaps fantasizing a career for me as a chef — or a food writer.
    To our extreme luck, “Tammy and the Bachelor” was playing at the Ohio down the street downtown. Now that’s a film so full of soap parents insisted their kids see it. My mom gladly gave me the 55 cents for the matinee, certain I would return with fortified moral fiber.
     My dad let us out at the Ohio Theater. We ran up to the Palace. Jeremy brought the gum balls. John Lee brought the rubber bands. Tony brought the Mr. Mulligan wind-up balsa airplane. I brought the Jell-O.
     For Saturday matinees, adults sat downstairs protected from the children. Teen couples took the back rows for intense coupling, not even pretending to watch. Kids ruled the balcony where no usher would dare patrol, playing tag in the aisles, pulling pigtails and unleashing terror.
     “The Blob” plot: A meteor lands. A gelatinous alien life form leaks out. It does the ugly on old guy, growing and growing, choking and choking.
     Send in Steve McQueen, who later denied any connection to the flick. Lt. Dave: “At least we’ve got it stopped.” Steve: “Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold.” Audience: “Euuuuuuu.”
     We launched our assault with Mr. Mulligan. He beelined into the screen, causing three minutes of dangerous oscillation, a good start.
     I felt a rubber band part my flattop. We opened up. Kids in the balcony front were firing wet gum blobs, mortar-style. We took aim from the high ground and picked them off like pigeons on a fence.
     Soon, the horrors on screen took hold and the balcony calmed to shrieks of terror.
     Just as the world was hopelessly slimed, we knew our time had come. John Lee and Tony and Jeremy and I released the Jell-O, blobs of it, tutti-frutti carpet bombing.
     You know something, nobody budged. Rats. Then one girl put her hand in her hair and screamed and another and another and then stampede.
     When I got home, my Mom demanded all the slobbery details of “Tammy.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “We didn’t watch it much,” I said. “Those kids in the balcony were so bad.”
     She smiled at me. “You’re such a good little fellow.”

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