DEAR ABBY: I go to movies occasionally with my niece "Connie" and her two kids. Although the theater has a sign "No Outside Food or Drinks Allowed," Connie sneaks snacks in in her oversized purse, then doles them out after the lights go down. I'm not talking about a couple of candy bars; she brings bags of candy, chips and cans of soda.
While I agree with my niece that the price of refreshments is outrageous, I also believe it's the theater operators' prerogative to set prices and policy. I suggested Connie skip the snacks during the movie and take the kids out for ice cream afterward, but she said she didn't want to "deprive" them. When I offered to pay, she said it wasn't about the money, it was "the principle, and besides, "everybody else does it."
I feel my niece is teaching her kids it's OK to break rules you find inconvenient as long as you can get away with it. I enjoy the outings with them so I've dropped the subject for the sake of harmony, but it still bothers me. Connie probably thinks I'm a critical old crank who's out of step with the times. I'd love your opinion. -- PAYING FOR MY POPCORN IN OREGON
DEAR PAYING: Here it is: Your thinking is spot on. Your niece's behavior is dishonest, and children model their behavior on the example set by their parents. Connie's excuse that everybody does it is a cop-out. Because "everyone" does something doesn't make it right.
Theater owners earn a large portion of their profits not from ticket sales, but from their concession stands. I am often struck by the amount of food I see purchased before people enter a theater -- large tubs of popcorn, king-sized candy bars, bucket-sized soft drinks and nachos. What does this say about us?
Obesity is at record levels in the U.S. We are repeatedly cautioned not to eat in front of the television set. The munching going on in theaters is another example of mindless, compulsive eating.
If Connie doesn't want to "deprive" her children, she should feed them a healthy meal before they go to the movie so they won't be hungry. That's my opinion, so I'm glad you asked me.