This past weekend my friend and I almost died.
On Friday night, my friend and I decided we should put on clothes and actually do something rather than laying our respective couch and bed. Options are limited when it's after 9 PM and you don't feel like drinking: This led to us getting froyo and heading to the Byrd.
Now for those of you not from Richmond, VA, the Byrd is a historic movie theatre. By historic, I mean it opened in 1928 (more on this later). Notable amenities include: It's open 365 days a year. It shows cheap movies ($1.99!). And it has a Wurlitzer organ*. As of late, the theatre has been undergoing renovations. A huge fundraising project is underway to restore the Byrd to its former glory. (They need to move faster.)
(*Locals and music buffs will harp about this damned organ. Just know it's a special organ and it takes four rooms to house it. Meanwhile, the organ in my grandmother's house only needs a corner. And every Saturday night this man plays the organ and everyone cheers and gets teary-eyed. Meanwhile, I Snapchat how annoyed I am. Can we get to the motion picture? I'd rather be behind toddlers pushing carts on the most crowded aisle in the grocery store. It's the same tune every week!)
Anyway, my friend and I caught the 9:30 PM showing of "Wild," the Reese Witherspoon nature walk movie. (I give it three-and-a-half stars.) For once in my life, they didn't play the organ. *crosses self*
So we're watching the movie, it's about halfway through (Reese has a few toe blisters), when something crashes down from the above. We whip around. What the heck was that? There's nothing to be seen, but we all heard it. One woman - an innocent patron like ourselves - hurries over to investigate. I consider whether a person may have tossed a purse or a baby from the balcony above. On the latter, I didn't hear it cry.
My friend whispers, "I'm afraid something is going to fall on us again."
The end of the movie arrives. I have almost forgotten about the commotion until I see the aforementioned woman exploring the floor behind us along with a few others. There's some white chunks on the ground. Those white chunks are grout. From the ceiling.
The ceiling had fallen on us.
And when I say "on us," it missed my friend by two seats. The chunks ranged from two to five inches long and at least two inches thick.
While the theatre's restoration is in the works, I didn't know it was this urgent. As in, you can watch the building fall apart while watching your feature presentation.
PTSD begins to set it. A man picks up one of the chunks and offers it to me. Holy crap, it weighs something. And it fell from about forty feet above us.
Me: "Oh my God, it could have killed us."
We gaze up. Indeed, you can see white pockets where the ceiling has crumbled. It looks like a quarry.
"I want to keep this," I decide of the chunk. A souvenir from the historic Byrd.
We begin to head out. My friend asks if we should tell someone. "We could have died," she reiterates.
"Maybe we should," I agree, "but I don't want them to take my chunk away."
We tell our ticket taker, this woman in a big hat: "Hi, while we were watching the movie, um, a part of the ceiling fell down. On us." I show her my chunk, and she takes it.
You can tell she is like, "Uh . . . " before she says, "Really? I'm sorry that happened. I'll look into it."
Personally, I'd look up, not into.
Me: "Can I keep that? The piece of the ceiling?"
The woman stares at me. "I'd rather you not."
I wish I fought her on this. If I'm going to almost die and not demand a refund for my ticket, you'd think I could at least keep a piece of my near death experience. Then again, at least my friend and I survived.