If I must say so myself (and I must), the material I perform onstage is hard-hitting and fundamentally indispensable. For those that have seen me perform, you know I tackle the most quintessential topics of our time. From Arby's Commercials and Mike's Hard Lemonade Commercials, to Fart Demons and Weaponized Defecation, I've weighed in on them all. However, not everything I think of is so damn important. Sometimes, I just have Trivial Ramblings that I need to get out of my brain and this seems like a perfect place to let them dance free in the world. So I hope you enjoy this first Trivial Rambling (of course you will) and I'd just like to preemptively say, you're welcome. -Stetson
It was August 4th, 2006. I would end that night as I ended most nights during that time of my life, arguing with a BIA Officer at a Casino. I had come stumbling a little too hot out of the bathroom inside the bar area and ran into a wall knocking a beer sign down. He jumped to the conclusion that I was "too drunk" to continue patronizing their establishment for the night. My stance on the issue was, "Nah man, I'm good. I'm good." In the end, he was unmoved by my stirring defense.
But that's not what this story is about. Just hours before I had lost a White Russian & PBR Drinking Competition to myself, several of my friends and I had went to a small, two-screen movie theater to watch "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" on opening night. We arrived a little too early and the showing before ours was still going, so we were hanging out in the lobby not far from their modest concession stand.
It was there that I saw him for the first time. He was every bit of 6'5" tall. Thinking back on it, he looked almost identical to Javier Bardem's character from "No Country for Old Men". But it wasn't merely his physical attributes, his fashion sense was also strikingly similar. He was decked out head-to-toe in all the latest designs from the Dickies Work Wear Collection.
To be honest, it's a pretty sweet look.
He walked up to the concession stand counter where a young, frail teenage boy was working by himself. The kid went right into his spiel. "Hi! How can I help..."
The man cut him off. He did not have time to let this kid finish his sentence. He was on a mission. The man bellowed out, "I would like one All-You-Can-Eat Popcorn." It was at this time that I noticed the sign above the kid with the Nightly Specials. That night's special was "All-You-Can-Eat Popcorn - $7". So the kid turned, filled a bucket with popcorn, sat it on the counter and the man gave him the money for the popcorn. Transaction completed. Nothing out of the ordinary.
It was at this time that the man pulled a neatly folded, brown paper grocery bag he'd had tucked underneath his arm and in one smooth, practiced motion, flung the bag open with the flick of his wrist. He stuck his hand in the bag to poke the corners out and ensure the bag was at it's maximum volume capacity. He grabbed the bucket of popcorn, poured it into the bag, sat the empty bucket back on the counter and with all the confidence of an absolute psychopath, he once again bellowed, "I would like a refill."
Fireworks went off inside of my brain. I truly couldn't believe what I was seeing. A cyclops riding a unicorn could've bolted through the lobby at that moment and I wouldn't have noticed. Every bit of processing power my brain possessed was occupied by what this man had just done. In one simple dump of a bucket, everything I thought I knew about how this world works disappeared before my eyes. It was like he screamed to me with his actions, "The Laws of Man Have Failed You. It's Time for an Uprising and I Shall be Your New Leader. Who's With Me?". In my head I was screaming, "I am! I pledge my service to you my Liege. Also, do you have an extra Dickies Jacket for me? I'm very unironically falling in love with how that looks on you."
But I said nothing. I stood in silence and watched as the shock on the kid's face slowly turned into horror. Nobody had ever told him this could happen. When he was trained on his first day, they weren't like, "Okay, now make sure you keep the counter clean, there's Clorox wipes under the counter. If someone orders Nachos, ask if they want to add Jalapenos for an extra $.50. And oh yeah, if an insane man ever comes in and tries to start a revolution by challenging our All-You-Can-Eat Popcorn policy, simply tell him we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason."
It's only $.50. Get the Jalapenos. You're worth it.
No, that never happened for this kid. At that moment, there was only two things in that kid's world. A large, intimidating man demanding more popcorn and a sign that clearly entitled him to it. So the kid did what any of us would. He took the bucket, he refilled it and sat it on the counter. The man calmly took the bucket of popcorn, poured it into the bag, sat it back on the counter and once again bellowed, "I would like a refill".
This continued on until the popcorn machine was completely empty. And you are probably thinking this is where the story ends. The man got all the popcorn they had and he left. Are you an idiot? Do you not see all the text below this? Of course this isn't the end of the story. This man did not come all this way to get half of a brown paper grocery bag of popcorn. He walked in on a mission and he was not leaving until that mission was finished.
The kid said, "Sir, we're out of popcorn" and the man said, "How long until the next batch", to which the kid replied, "About 7 or 8 minutes" and the man simply said, "I'll wait". And wait he did. He did not move to the side or go look at the upcoming movie posters. No. He stood 6" from the counter and silently stared at every move this poor kid made while preparing the next batch of popcorn.
It was at this time that the showing before ours had cleared out and my friends, who had not been paying attention to what was going on, tried to get me to come into the Screening Room. I told them, "Go on without me, there's a life-altering popcorn situation unfolding in front of me and this will be the only chance I'll ever have to see something like this. I'll have plenty of chances to see 'Talladega Nights' in my lifetime. Heck, I bet in the year 2018 this movie will be on Comedy Central every 4 hours." (That's totally true, I totally said that back in 2006)
I totally called that one.
So I stood against the wall, quietly watching this man who was watching the kid make more popcorn. You could cut the tension in the room with one of the plastic forks from the concession stand. The next batch of popcorn finished, the man sat the bucket back down and bellowed, "I would like a refill", the kid refilled it, he dumped it in the bag and this happened again and again until the bag was completely filled with popcorn.
With his mission now complete, the man calmly turned around and walked right past both of the Screening Rooms and out of the theater. THE DUDE DIDN'T EVEN USE HIS MOVIE TICKET!! This was a small theater and they didn't have an usher inside, you had to buy a ticket just to get in the door. Which means he spent $8 on a movie ticket and $7 on the All-You-Can-Eat Popcorn and to be honest, he could've gone to the grocery store and got just as much popcorn with that $15, but on this fateful night, that is not the path this man chose.
For years after, I thought about this man often. Who was he? What drove him? I would tell this story to anyone who would stand still long enough to hear it. I would be perplexed whenever most of them didn't seem to grasp the significance of what I had witnessed.
But one day, I was telling this story to someone and their eyes lit up like 10,000 fires. They stopped me halfway through by making the groundbreaking revelation, "Yeah, I know this guy. I know exactly who you are talking about". After years of wondering, I finally found my answers.
As it turns out, this person I was talking to had a grandparent in the local nursing home. A nursing home that also housed the mother of the Popcorn Revolutionary himself. Apparently, on occasion, this man would take his trusty brown paper grocery bag to the Movie Theater on All-You-Can-Eat Popcorn Night, fill it up with buttery, authentic Movie Theater Popcorn, then take it directly to the Nursing Home where his Mother and her friends would be waiting for him to get Movie Night started.
You and me both girl.
Tears came to my eyes. All these years, I thought this large, menacing man was on a self-righteous crusade against the Man. Sending a message to the Capitalistic Society he so deeply loathed. I analyzed his actions and looked for meaning in them, trying to learn from them. Turns out, this whole time, he was just a big Momma's boy with a huge heart.
In the 12+ years since, I've watched as humanity slowly tears itself apart. I turn on the news every night to see unspeakable tragedies. Evil spreading and prevailing. Nothing but hurt and hate every night. And it gets to me. It crushes my spirit. And in those times, when it feels like there's no hope left, I think of him. I think of him walking into that theater, knowing full well people won't understand why he does what he does, and him steadfastly filling that bag of popcorn for his Mom and her friends. And it makes it all better for a bit.
And I know it's probably not real, I know it's probably my mind playing tricks on me, but every now and then, I'll be in Wal-Mart and I'll remember I need some new underwear or socks and on my way to them, I will pass by the Dickies Work Wear and I swear, if I take a good, hard sniff in, I can smell the sweet aroma of buttery popcorn and I know.... He was here. And he's still out there doing good in a World that doesn't deserve him, but truly needs him. For he is... Popcorn Batman.