Walter Mencken 9:21 p.m., Oct. 20
4th row center: Begging for a movie
He was a big, baby-faced dude; the needle would make several round trips whenever he set foot on a scale. Homeless? Not sure. His clothes were clean and even in the sweltering summer months, one never detected a trace of b.o. when walking past the 19-year-old.
How do I come to know a guy's age and not his name? He shouted his date of birth through the box office window while trying to get into an R-rated movie. Over the course of a year, I spotted -- let's call him, Albert -- I spotted Albert at least a dozen times standing in front of Chicago's Lincoln Village 1-6. Apparently his job was rattling the change in a jumbo soft drink cup, begging patrons to contribute to his ticket fund.
Cinema is nourishing! People panhandle for food, why not movies? I applaud an enterprising spirit, and every time we'd meet, a buck would make its way from my pocket to the silo-sized collection cup.
One day, the familiar sound of clinking coins was muffled by some added green. On top of the change sat at least 8 dollar bills.
"Looks like you've collected enough for a ticket," I observed while tossing a few additional coins in the 82 oz goblet.
Other than telling the box office attendant his age and "thank you," it was the only word I ever heard him speak: "Concessions."
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