STORIES FOR THE CALIFORNIA TESTING BUREAU

I wrote dozens of commissioned stories and essays for McGraw-Hill/CTB reading comprehension tests. For each piece, I wove ten designated vocabulary words into the story, wrote within a specified word count range, and refined to an exact grade level. My assignment for this one was to write an opinion piece related to entertainment, in the character and voice of a seventh grader, at a precise 7.4 grade level. 

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How to go to the Movies

When I pay my hard-earned yard work money to see an action or mystery flick on a Saturday afternoon, I want to actually enjoy the show. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it my way. Other kids from my middle school show up at the movie theater and disrupt the film.

Last weekend I couldn’t take it anymore. I slumped in my seat, with all the horsing around going on behind me, and scrawled on the back of a popcorn bag my list of major ways people mess up a movie experience for everyone else. I’m posting it at school as soon as I can. Maybe other kids will agree with me on ways to be more courteous at the movies.

First of all, people sit there and talk right in the middle of the movie. I mean, what do they have to talk about at the very moment the detective is figuring out whose footprints are all over the living room rug? They’re always sitting right behind me chattering on about what the character just did, or is about to do, or how the whole story is going to turn out.

Some people just can’t stand suspense. They always want to figure out what’s coming next. Other people, like me, like to just let life unfold. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen onscreen until the instant it happens. When they start jabbering behind me, I plug up my ears.

Sometimes a group of kids starts making wise cracks at really serious moments in a story and it wrecks the mood. Often, someone sitting behind me is not even paying attention to the movie. He or she is only spreading school gossip. People should just turn it off when the movie begins, like you shut off the TV sitcoms when it’s time to get something done.

Of course, there are other ways to be obnoxious in a movie besides talking. Some people munch their snacks so loudly, it’s like they’re eating into a microphone. Right when the action hero jumps out of the sky, saves the day, and says something cool I could repeat all over school for the next week, the guy behind me leans forward in his seat and crunches popcorn in my ear at full volume. The worst, though, is somebody opening candy wrappers just as the lead character in the movie discovers her neighborhood grocer is really a creature from another planet.

Do you want my opinion on the subject of what to eat in a theater? Make a delicious peanut butter and jam sandwich in your own kitchen at home, wrap it up in a nice quiet paper towel, and bring that for your movie food. Remember not to loudly slurp the drink you might get to go with it.

The third irritating thing people do in theaters is jump around while everyone else is trying to watch the movie. People in front of me always seem to decide to switch seats in the middle of an exciting scene. Or, someone in my row can’t live another two minutes without chocolate-covered raisins and crawls over me to go buy a box. Or, the guy sitting behind me gets comfortable putting his feet up on my seat, and I get high-top sneakers as a backrest.

So, I hope everyone in school will take my advice. Go outside at lunchtime and talk about your favorite movies and actors, open the loudest candy wrappers you can find, and drink through a straw in the noisiest way you know how. Get it all out of your system outdoors. Then, come into movie theaters, quiet down, enjoy the show, and let everyone else enjoy it, too.