Whenever I become nervous that Murphy's Law is floundering, I need only look
in one place to reassure myself that it is indeed alive and well: the movie theater. There is something about a crowded auditorium where silence is a virtue and courtesy a bonus that brings out the odder side of humanity.
While I am not a member of the Psychic Friends Network, I can predict with
absolute and startling accuracy that any time I set foot inside one of these cinematic fun houses, the following things will always occur:
1. If I arrive without checking times first to catch "whatever's playing" at the thirty-five screen movie house, I will arrive between all movie times. There will be roughly a three-hour wait until the next show starts.
2. If I arrive after carefully checking times for a must-see film, it will be sold out. There will be roughly a three-hour wait until the next show starts.
3. Five people ahead of me in the ticket line will have no problem using coupons that expired during the Nixon administration. Under no circumstances, however, will any student discount, special pass, or matinee price be available to me.
4. Once inside (after having paid full price during Bargain Matinee time), I arrive to the concession counter just as the last of the popcorn is sold to the kid ahead of me. I will wait patiently for 30 minutes while a ‘fresh’ batch is made. It will taste like stale week-old cardboard and cost eight dollars.
5. After arriving an hour early to ensure good seating, a family of ten will breeze in as the credits roll and ask that I change seats so they can all sit together. They will then take turns standing in front of me and loudly discussing where each of them will sit. This will take half an hour.
6. The entire theater can be filled with people under five feet tall EXCEPT the person directly in front of me. He/she will be seven-foot-six and wear a top hat.
7. The audience at the 10:30 PM showing of the most graphically violent, R-rated
film will consist largely of screaming babies and bored three-year-olds.
8. A screaming baby will be directly behind my left ear. The parents demonstrate
acting ability above and beyond any on the big screen by pretending not to notice.
9. A three-year-old will kick my seat repeatedly until finally he misses, lodging his sneaker in my right ear. Thankfully, this helps mute the screaming babies.
10. People sitting on either ends of my row will be legally obligated to enter or exit said row only by crossing directly in front of me.
11. The same people will come ten minutes late to the movie and leave ten minutes early. Apparently they don't want to give away too much of the plot to
themselves (or me).
12. Although two armrests are afforded each seat in the theater, both of mine will be in use.
13. If there are two hundred seats left in the theater, someone will find it necessary to sit directly next to me. This person will have a respiratory disorder and make Darth Vader sounds throughout the film.
14. The person sitting on the other side of me will have a bladder the size of a
walnut and tote the Big ‘N Thirsty hundred-ounce soda. They will need to exit the
row to use the bathroom by stepping over (on) me. This will occur fifty or sixty times.
For a time, I felt the only escape from this fate was to boycott the silver screen and become a loyal patron of the local Super Bank Buster Video store. I rented
enough movies to put several of the teenage clerks through college, stocked up on microwave popcorn, and settled in to enjoy uninterrupted, peaceful movie viewing.
Quickly I realized that something was wrong. My viewing enjoyment was incomplete. Without the exhilaration of a crowd all discovering magical moments
together, sharing the bond of shouting cheers and hissing disappointments at a
screen that is larger than life, a dimension of movie-going was lost. I actually
missed it -- all of it. Almost.
While the video store still sees enough of me to spawn rumors of my own
parking space, I have once again become a believer in the magic of big screen cinema. So if you don't mind, help me pry this sneaker from my ear and pass me the stale popcorn... the show must go on!