ticketsThey announced the Oscar nominees yesterday and on that list of ten (10!) best picture nominees I’d seen exactly…one.  The animated one with all the balloons.  (Shockingly, the two other movies I’ve seen recently,  “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “Twilight: New Moon” were absent from this list of cinematic glory.)

It’s not that I dislike the movies. I love going to the movies.  I like the theater, too.  It’s just that on my own private ranking system, very few things measure up.

My ranking system isn’t stars or rotten tomatoes or thumbs up-or-down. Nope, my system is much more crass than that: it’s money. If Husband and I “just” want to go to the movies, for instance, even without getting a bite to eat or a glass of wine beforehand, our evening costs us close to $100:  two movie tickets at $12.50 and approximately three hours of babysitting at about $15 an hour, plus maybe a little extra if we get home late and offer to pay for the sitter to take a cab home.  It’s about 70 bucks.  Now tell me, seriously, are any of the movies on that list worth that much money?  (Husband is fairly sure that “Avatar” is worth all the money in the world but I just can’t bring myself to be excited by a movie that my nephew described as “Dances with Smurfs.”)

As for theater? Don’t even get me started. Given that the cheapest seats for most good theater–on or off Broadway–start somewhere in the realm of $50, we’re looking at about a 200 or 300 dollar evening.  I coughed it up in order to see Cate Blanchett in “Streetcar Named Desire,” which was, granted, an amazing experience. Husband tells me that there are lots of amazing theatrical experiences out there – and I know he’s right–but at two hundred bucks a pop, it’s a drag when a performance is only so-so, or even (as is all too often the case) downright dreadful.

Me? I’d rather spend money on going out to eat. Somehow even a mediocre (probably over-priced) meal in a restaurant makes me happy, for the simplest of reasons: I didn’t cook it, I’m not cleaning up after it, and no one is demanding that I leap up to get him more milk some salt another napkin more ketchup dessert now.. I mean please… as soon as I sit down.  

Sarah, in the LA Mom’s Blog, talks about whether a dinner engagement is “sitter-worthy” and I guess for me, most meals out are sitter worthy.  A dinner out with friends–a dinner without discussions of logistics and homework, a meal without mediating between squabbling siblings–that to me is money well spent.

So you go to the movies and I’ll meet you later for dinner so you can tell me all about it.