Dear Aunt Gabby,
I am 13, and I love going to the movies with my family. Our tradition is to go to a new movie as soon as it comes to the theater.
I only have one problem. Since there are five of us, my mother will not buy snacks at the concessions, but brings a “purse” as big as a suitcase and has enough snacks in it for all of us.
I get so embarrassed and am worried that we will get arrested. Is it illegal or just awful?
Dora, the Moviegoer
First of all, I want to commend you and your family for carrying on a family tradition, full of fun, food, and fond memories.
While it is technically not illegal, it is certainly a breach of civil contract. Most movie houses have signs that specify, “No outside food,” and you agree to that by buying a ticket and going in. Then, you cheat. Sort of like shaking hands on a bet and then trying to back out when you lose. The theatre makes more than half its income from the concession stand.
It is similar to going out to eat and then not tipping because it is too expensive. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.
You can get thrown out of the theatre (although I have never seen it happen.)
Once the lights go down, your job as a theatergoer is to blend in and not cause any distractions to those around you. That means turning your phone off, not talking, not kicking seats, not smacking your lips eating hamburgers and letting everyone in the theater know that you are cheating.
At 13, you don’t have much choice about what your parents do, but you could refuse to eat or spend some of your own money on snacks. That way, at least your conscience will be clear and you may have more compassion for your family’s situation.
Dear Aunt Gabby,
I have a cat, Ava, which I let out to go potty and at night. My mother thinks this is terrible because we always had inside cats. I don’t want to have a litter box, because I grew up in a stinky house. My new house is clean and smells new. What should I do to get my mom off my back?
I’ve had a dozen cats in my life, some of whom lived to be 14, 16, and 18 years old. I rescued all of them except one that we thought was a male Maine Coon cat and turned out she wasn’t, so ‘Bullwinkle’ became ‘Cowinkle.’ All of my cats were strictly inside cats, except for Cowinkle who dashed for the door anytime it was opened a crack. If I didn’t let her out, she would potty in hidden places like my fabric stash or on my headphones. So, I let her out. She was 4 years old, and one day, she was gone all day. I never saw her again, so I don’t know what happened. She haunts me.
Your cat is your cat. Your neighbors do not want your cat. They do not want cat poo in their gardens or sick or dead cats in their yards or cats terrorizing song birds. They do not want cats in or on their cars. Be a good neighbor.
Facts are your friend! Inside cats live for 12-18 years. Some live into their 20s. Litter boxes do not have to stink. I scoop mine every day (2 minutes). Then every week or so, I change it and wash out the box with Lysol. (Don’t use bleach which reacts with the urine.)
Get your cat fixed, which prevents the 250,000 cats she could be related to in her lifetime. It is not cruel. It helps a cat have a nice home, to be free of heat and pregnancy and kittens, and to live longer.
Don’t get your cat declawed. Most vets won’t do that anyway, because it can make cats neurotic and fearful. And difficult to adopt out.
When your cat gets sick, when she falls, or gets poisoned, you will know. When she dies, you will know. When she goes into heat—you will want her fixed.
If having a cat climbing around, playing with your papers and doodads, talking to you, using the litter box, costing you money for good food, toys, and veterinary care annoys you, don’t get one. Get a big stuffed animal instead.