A Shaky Fish Story

Today some friends and I took our kids (4 moms, 16 kids under the age of 10) to our local movie theater, where there are free movies every Tuesday all summer.  The theater was jammed- there was not even one empty seat.  Today’s movie was Fred Claus starring Vince Vaughan.  We laughed throughout and enjoyed the chilly wintery scenes, which were effective in cooling us off on this hot July morning.  Everything was just fine, until 11:42am, when the theater started to roll.

Yes, roll!  We live in Southern California, where the earth moves regularly.  My friend and I recognized immediately that we were experiencing an earthquake, but this was a first for my 9 and 10 year old kids. As the rolling turned to jolting and the movement got a little more intense, people gasped and stood up and started to go for the aisles.  My friend Angela shouted out, “Remain calm!  Don’t panic!” several times… who wants to get trampled, right??- and for the most part people were calm.  My legs turned to jello and I was shaking because you can’t know if the quake will stop or gather strength.  Having lived through 2 major earthquakes (with major aftershocks each time), I was a little jumpy.

Everyone exited the theater safely, with no trampling and lots of nervous laughter, and immediately got on their cell phones.  I was able to get ahold of my husband right away but my friend, who’s mother lives just a few miles from the epicenter, could not get her mom on the phone.  We heard later that the cell lines collapsed pretty quickly with the overload on the system from everyone trying to make calls all at once.

My kids have told and re-told their “survivor” story to friends and relatives several times now, and the earthquake gets bigger and bigger with each retelling, like a fish story (it was THIIIISSSS BIG!)  It was a moderate quake, 5.4 on the Richter scale, but it was their first, so to them it was a whale!

13 Responses

  1. Yes…your other reading friend here in So. California spent a good portion of the quake under her desk until the university officially evacuated us. I work at Cal State Northridge and it destroyed the campus back in ’94 so we take these things quite seriously.

    Let’s hope that rolling is all we get over the next few weeks!

  2. Ti- I remember Northridge very well. We drove up to see all the damage of that collapsed apartment building and the campus. It was terrible.

    We were about 15 miles from the epicenter today when it hit.

  3. Glad you’re okay! I wish our movie theater offered free days! I would be there in a flash.

  4. I am so glad that everyone is okay. What a fun place to experience an earthquake (assuming it’s non-threatening, of course).

  5. so glad you’re okay! i try not to live where the weather can injure me. so i’m in jersey. i just have to survive crowds and pollution. 🙂

  6. I’m so glad it was just a moderate earthquake! Theaters are a lousy place to be during disasters.

  7. Damn! That’s one of the worst things about living in California! I’m glad it was a minor one and that no one was hurt.

  8. I thought of you when I heard about the quake. I’m glad it wasn’t more serious. 🙂

  9. Evidently, it’s a good time to be in Oregon. 😀

    Glad you all are ok!

  10. Next time rent the DVD! Seriously, of course, glad that you and the gang in southern Cal. are doing fine! It sounds like the Moms kept it together getting the kids out of the theater (Isn’t it great that we have the ability to stay calm in the midst of a crisis, then collapse later in the comfort of our own homes!)

  11. And the story will probably get *bigger* as they get older. 😀 What’s a good fish story without a little exaggeration?

  12. I had that same rolling experience in my pilates class. Fortunately my kids were at day camp and were running around so much they didn’t even feel it!

  13. […] this was an interesting week, but not the best week for reading.  I read The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer, which was […]

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