The lack of courtesy on the part of many in...

The lack of courtesy on the part of many in some theater audiences is appalling. Credit: iStock

After the film "The Wolf of Wall Street" was released on Christmas 2013, the world was abuzz about its debauchery. Actors described the grueling filming of the mass sex scenes, the scanty wardrobes, and the strenuousness of it all.

But I didn't know any of this when I went.

With my mother.

On Christmas Day.

First, some background. I grew up on Staten Island in a family that only saw movies approved by the local Catholic newspaper, The Tablet. In the days when television censors wouldn't let Barbara Eden show her belly button on "I Dream of Jeannie," my parents went a step further and wouldn't let us watch "Batman" because Catwoman's outfit was too suggestive. Books were banned. My parents never uttered a curse word in my presence.

Get the (clean) picture?

These days, I take my 86-year-old mother to a movie every week. It is really just expensive nap time. She starts by taking out her hearing aids, saying the previews are too loud.

"Is this the movie?" she asks during every preview. Then, as soon as the movie starts, she falls asleep. If she is roused, she says, "I can't understand this movie." And on the way out, she says, "That movie wasn't good at all. I don't know why the critics liked it."

Maybe because they actually saw the film.

So what movie did I take my mother to on Christmas Day? "The Wolf of Wall Street."

It was just my husband, whom I'll call Great Guy, my mother and me for Christmas, so the plan was to do a "Jewish Christmas" -- Chinese food and a movie. Just us and hundreds and hundreds of others.

The miracle on this holiday was that we found three seats together in a theater at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville, about five rows from the screen, for an even better high-definition view of every naked inch of every actor's body.

After the movie started with a sex scene, Great Guy leaned over to my mother and said, "I just want you to know I had nothing to do with this."

Have you seen "The Wolf of Wall Street"?

It's about a drug-taking, sex-crazed Long Island-based financial fraudster. So here I was, sitting in a movie that probably would have been X-rated back in her day -- one with every pose in the Kama Sutra.

I squirmed in the seat next to her, hoping for a story line beyond all the sins that money can buy.

"This is pornography," she said.

"Take a nap, Mom," I said.

More sex and drugs.

"The day of our Lord's birth, this is what I have to watch."

"Take a nap, Mom."

More drugs and sex.

"Can't we leave?"

"We can't climb over this entire row of people now," I said. "Shhh. Just close your eyes."

"I can't believe this," she said.

She uttered those words so many times that I had to shush her so others could enjoy the pornography. Not that you really needed to hear the dialogue.

Over the years I'd become desensitized to sex and cursing in movies, but sitting next to my rosary-reciting mother, I felt like I had taken a 5-year-old to see "Deep Throat."

If I'd had my wits about me, I would have taken her out of this movie and ducked into another auditorium to see something else, but I just kept hoping beyond hope that the characters would get tired from all that sex, or hit menopause or something. Or that Mom would take a nap.

So my mother finally saw an entire movie.

Nowadays, she continues to sleep through every movie, every week. And finds them all boring. I tell her, "Ma, I have to be careful to find movies that don't have sex, gore or loud special effects."

"Let's see the sex," she tells me.

My mother. A late bloomer.

Reader Eileen Dengler lives in Westbury.


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