It was their first date. And she was excited and nervous all at once. She didn’t know what he had in store, as she rode the bus to meet him, but he was very deliberate on meeting exactly at the bus stop at eight o’clock.
He greeted her once she got off the bus. They talked as they walked. “What was so important about meeting right at eight? So far we are just walking on Broadway.”
He laughed and glanced at her, “You’ll see. I hope you don’t mind stepping into someone else’s shoes for the night.”
Stepping into someone else’s shoes? She wondered. What could that possibly mean? She didn’t want to mess anything up with this guy… he seems really great. So she just smiled, nodded, and said “Sure… I don’t mind.”
They walked along the rain-slicked path, past old shops and some small restaurants. Even though it was early, this part of town seemed to be getting ready to close for the night.
“It looks a little dead around here, you sure you know where you’re going?”
“Just trust me.”
Strangely enough, walking down a deserted city street at night, she felt safe. Still uncertain as to where they were going, she decided to relax and enjoy the ride. The air of mystery was exciting and she felt good.
They finally came across a decrepit old theatre that looks as if it may deteriorate any second. The marquee was blank and all the light bulbs were either broken or missing. The sidewalk was sticky, the air smelled bad, and there was no one around.
She chuckled. “Is there where you’ve come to kill me?”
“That would be a pretty terrible date, wouldn’t it? Here, follow me.” He reached for her hand.
They walked past the old ticket booth up to the closed doors of the theatre entrance. She hesitated, “I have decided that you are crazy. There’s no one here!”
“Are you ready?”
He yanked open the door of the theatre and a warm pleasant air brushed her cheeks. Light poured out into the night. It was inviting and felt familiar, natural. They stepped into the foyer of the theatre and suddenly saw hundreds of people chatting, drinking, socializing… in turn of the century attire. Bathed in warm light, people swarmed around, while a jazz band played distantly in the background. The evening went from dark and cold to warm and welcoming in an instant. She looked at him for answers. To explain the strange change that just occurred. But when she looked at him, he was now dressed in a pressed suit. Seeing the stunned expression on her face, he directed her eyes to her attire: a gold evening dress.
He led her through the crowds while possible explanations did a poor job of convincing her what was going on. Were they on a movie set? Some weird invitation-only Hollywood party? She saw a bright flash in the corner of her eye, where a man was holding a huge camera with a large flash bulb. All over, women were dressed as she was. None of it provided any sound reasoning.
They followed the bustling crowd into the auditorium. It was the largest, most ornate theatre she had ever seen. Decorative designs lined the walls and above them was a beautiful ceiling painting. Ushered to a row, they look their seats as the silver screen ahead of them lit up.
“What is going on?” She finally said.
“I can’t explain it. But it happens every three months or so. This is my third time being transported here.”
It was the premiere of City Lights, the newest Charlie Chaplin film at the time. She had seen the movie when she was a kid, but seeing the premiere was unlike anything else. She decided to let the evening take its course instead of questioning how she got here. Though her head was still spinning.
The film ended and the two of them wandered through the theatre to take in the sights and sounds. As they walked toward the exit, he spoke.
“Pretty incredible, huh?”
As they pushed the door open to the outside, the cold air blew away the magic of the evening and they once again found themselves in their street clothes, in the middle of the night, in the twenty-first century, on Broadway.
They walked down the street and she took his hand. “What film are they showing next time?”
“We’ll have to make sure we catch it.”