It was somewhat miraculous so I shouldn't complain.

There we were, all seated, ready for the show in plenty of time, nine of us in a row: four adults and five children, ages: 9, 7, 4, 2 and 2.

Everybody was happy. Everybody was clean. Everybody was feeling neighborly.

And we might have made it all 88 minutes in good stead if we'd been given a fighting chance.

The kids were good to go before the ads for television shows like "The Closer" followed by a series of trailers.

After that, the 2-year-olds thought they were done.

(Granted, one is talking a considerable risk buying tickets for 2-year-olds, but once we decided to take their older siblings, how could we leave them home?)

They watched some of the movie, but about 20 minutes before the end, they were trading laps, singing out loud, worrying about who had the better seat and heading for the exits (in the dark at full speed).

It occurred to me that if we could somehow have skipped the trailers, we'd have been fine.

So I've come up with a grandmother's list of suggestions for the Larry Millers and benevolent theater owners who care to listen:

How about designating a few time slots just for the kids? (I know in the past there have been times set aside just for moms and babies so the moms and their darlings wouldn't aggravate moviegoers who'd paid to actually hear the movie.)

Call it something cutesy like "Movies for Minors" or "Smallville Time" and make it clear that the movie will start 1-2 minutes after seating time — with the trailers at the end rather than the beginning. That way, kids who want to watch the trailers can hang about. The babies — who don't have any purchasing power yet anyway — can leave.

Sell designated seating — like Miller does at Jordan Commons and like theaters do in Europe — so you have plenty of seats together and there's no need to arrive 45 minutes ahead of time to guarantee getting good seats. The less time spent waiting, the better the experience. Schedule before and after naptime, if possible.

And just for kicks, how about designing a Movie Meal that has something other than a sugar-laden rope for a treat that soon becomes a sticky snake that gets all over everybody? How about a couple of oatmeal cookies, crackers and cheese or pretzels? Maybe an apple slice or orange wedge to go with the popcorn and the drink?

Some may say the moviemakers need the time prior to the movie to sell their wares. They do have a captive audience.

They may wail that they have to sell cheap Movie Meals for obscene prices to cover their costs.

But as a consumer, I'm here to say, it would go a long way with me if a theater would make an effort to cater to the pacifier-toting audience.

If the baby is happy, I'm happy and I'll come back for more.


E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com