The Parable of the Top Hat


There was an especially good movie showing at the local theater, so I ventured out.  When I arrived, the line was very long; however I succeeded in getting to the ticket window, paid $10 and took the last available seat in the theater. The riveting movie had just begun when the man sitting in front of me slowly—very slowly, deliberately, obtrusively, provocatively, and unwarrantably—put a very tall top hat (of the Abe Lincoln style) upon his head.  What to do?  My eyes drifted to the ceiling and I had a perfect view of the chandelier; I gazed at the floor and had an unobstructed view of the scattered popcorn; I had a clear view of the walls and admired the decorative sconces.  But now my view of the movie screen was completely obstructed by this one man wearing a top hat.

I considered all of my remedies, all of them distasteful:  First, I kindly asked the man to remove his hat, which he refused to do. Next, I complained to the theater manager who informed me that while cell phones and boom boxes were banned, top hats were not.  I considered taking another seat, but none was available. I then offered the obdurate man $5 to remove his hat, but the generous offer was insufficient. An additional offer of $20 was likewise refused, as he held out for more. My wallet that day was very thin, so larger offerings were out of the question.  Finally, I used my last remedy:  I got up, went to the box office, and asked for a refund whereupon I was told that refunds are not given. I returned to my seat. I considered standing for 90 minutes, but realized that I would obstruct the views of those many good and innocent people sitting behind me. No, my mother taught me to be considerate of others, so I sat and merely listened to the 90 minute movie while staring at the back of the top hat.

Dear Laguna Beach View Preservation committee members:  The “theater” that is Laguna Beach has a great many obtrusive “top hats” and, in keeping with current fashion, they get larger and taller every year. We implore you to arrive at the only logical remedy that will restore our views to the “movie screen.” Like the local banning of plastic bags, cell phone usage, leaf blowers, littering, speeding, spitting on the sidewalk, loitering, dog poop, etc., please draft a view preservation ordinance authorizing a city employee to enforce the timely removal of “top hats” so that we may enjoy the wonderful “movie” that plays every day on our “screen.”


Ted Mowery, Laguna Beach

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