Cheap Momma's Guide to Parenting #4

Written by Liz Eagle

Cheap Momma’s Guide to Parenting
Entry 4:A little movie goes a long way
By : Liz Eagle

visartI may or may not have mentioned that I love a rainy day. And, if you’ve never read any of my articles, you have no way of knowing that, so, I’ll say it again: I love rainy days.

But, this isn’t about rainy days, per say. It is about an activity that is a perfect fit for a rainy day (preferably chilly) and a great idea for a variety of forecasts. Skip the Hulu, skip the Netflix (who is kind of turning into Netsux, am I right?) and skip down 7th Street and right into VisArt Video.

Yes, this place exists. And thrives, actually.

I love local business, especially those that spark nostalgia and super especially those that spark good economic decisions. I typically write about things that are free, because, let’s face it, we all like a little somethin’ for nothin’. But, this is almost free and you can feel pretty good about your decisions.

When you walk into VisArt, you are immediately assaulted with the best selection of movies anywhere this side of Netflix has to offer. There are red wire rows- nay, mazes- of videos and DVDs. I havent’ seen VHS’s to rent in so long that I thought they went in “VHS players”. True story.

So this last rainy day, I packed up my 2 offspring and headed to rent some movies. When I’m with my kids, as is to be expected, I never make it past the kid room, located at the back, or the first few rows of movies. But these first rows are filled with the majesty and beauty cinematography was created for.

If you’re anything like me, and I assume you are, otherwise my ideas would be lame to you and you would have stopped reading ages ago, then you are tired of today’s children’s programming (ahem, Dora and Caillou- can I get an amen?) and long for the classics that we grew up on. Ah, those were the days.

I guided my kids (who were far more well-behaved this trip that the last because I ever-so-calmly instilled in them the fear of God prior to entering) towards the back room to pick out movies. I cannot tell a lie: much to my dismay, every time we visit, we leave with Barbie’s Charm School. It’s to the point that I ask my 2-year-old boy what movie he wants, and he replies “Bah-Bie” (the Jewish form of Barbie, apparently).

I fear I wouldn’t be a hip, cool, parent, though, if I didn’t insist we picked just a few more movies. So they chose Jay Jay the Jet Plane. While this makes me vomit (have you seen the human faces on the planes? Terrifying), I agreed to let them decide on 2 movies and mommy would pick 2. I’m pretty sure it was harder for me to pick than them.

My first sighting was “The Worst Witch”. And not just the movie, but the British TV series. Not to worry- the have the movie, too. “Pete & Pete”, “Mac & Me”, and “Flight of the Navigator” also graced the shelves, along with Disney vaulted classics, “The Wizard of Oz” and even the Michael Jackson classic “Return to Oz”. My 2 mommy/family choices were “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” (which my 5-year-old told me she’d seen before on “the Hub”, which I still have no clue as to what that is) and a compilation of Disney classics, including Little Hiawatha, Ben and me, and Casey at the Bat.

The best part about this process, though, is not just the selection but the knowledge of the staff. Shannon, who I am assuming is a multi-faceted film connoisseur, always seems to be working the desk when I’m there. I seem to often pick to videos with the circle sticker claiming “Shannon’s pick”. Kindred spirits are we. We discuss the oddness of the kid on the sterile spaceship, missing for circa 7 years in “Flight of the Navigator” and why in the world the supermarket caught on fire in “Mac & me” and how we both have silently vowed to never watch either of those again due to their unnecessary creepiness.

Realizing I may never make it past the kids and family sections, and that my children will always beg for candy, I place my selection on the counter and prepare for an afternoon of cheap entertainment. The kids movies are often $1.25 each for 5 days and the family classics are $3.50 for 5 days. So, for 5 days of movie watching and simultaneously supporting a local business of, sadly, a dying breed, I have spent but a mere $7.50. Job well done, momma. Job well done.

So, the step-by-step guide, for a cheap-o how-to movie day:

1. Determine yourself to get off the computer, stop with Netflix and Hulu and, dammit, do something the old-fashioned way. These guys have over 33,000 titles, as opposed to Netflix’s 14.

2. Head down to the Elizabeth Neighborhood to the one stop, aside from Dollar General, that isn’t yuppie-ville over there. (Yeah, I said it, and, yeah, I meant it.)

3. Open the gates and behold the beauty.

4. Take your little ones to the back to find the kid movies of choice. If you stick in this room, the movies will be dirt cheap.

5. Tell your kids to stop asking for candy.

6. Swear to leave if they ask again.

7. Take your selection up front and sign up for a card.

8. For the love of God, next time you go in, don’t forget your card. They mean straight business over there and they will not mess around or forgive your forgetfulness. Man up.

9. Head on home, pop in your flick of choice and, if you’re lucky, sleep while your kids are entranced by cinematographic genius.

10. Repeat as often as necessary.

And there you have it. A $7.50 week of entertainment in the bag. A small price to pay for supporting the community and embracing nostalgia. Stay tuned: you never know where the cheapness will lead us.


Liz Eagle   Liz Eagle

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