Sometimes, it amazes me that people still go to see movies in the theater. For some reason, I still do it, too, though every time I do, I leave vowing never to do it again. I’m not going to complain about the absorbent amounts of money that theaters charge for movies -– though I could. And I’m also not going to complain about the price of a soda and a small popcorn -– though I definitely could. I do, however, feel the need to complain about the seats.
Back in the days when movies lasted no longer than ninety minutes, it wasn’t so noticeable. But when you walk into the movie theater today, you never know when you’ll get out. It could be days. I’ve started packing an overnight bag and taking it along to the theater –- just in case.
So, after you pay your $82 for admission, a medium soda, and a four-ounce package of stale Junior Mints, you find your theater and search for The Perfect Seat. It has to be the right distance from the screen, you decide, and relatively free from the crowd (who could block the view of the screen or make too much noise). You pick a seat and settle in, making yourself as comfortable as possible.
At first, it’s fine. Maybe you’ve got one of those fancy rocking seats -– and there’s no one behind you, kicking your seat every time you lean back. But then, about an hour into the movie, you start to squirm. Parts of your legs have begun to go numb. Your back aches. You shift from one side to another. You cross your legs. You uncross your legs. You put your legs up on the seat ahead of you, hoping you won’t be caught and scolded by the pubescent theater worker with a flashlight.
It’s even worse if you’re tall -– like I am. You either have to put your knees up on the seat ahead of you (thereby getting crushed each time the person in front of you makes use of the fancy rocking-chair action) or sit sideways and put your legs up on the seat next to you. Usually, you just end up trying to cross and uncross your legs without kicking the person in front of you in the head. It’s quite a challenge.
By the time the movie comes to its exciting climax, you’re no longer paying attention to the movie. Not only is your lease on that $15 soda up, but you’re so uncomfortable in your seat that you’ve lost track of the story. So you start keeping an eye on your watch. It’s got to be over soon, you think.
I’m starting to think that this is all just part of an elaborate Hollywood plot. Maybe the movies are so bad that they don’t want you to pay attention. So they make the movies extra-long and the theater seats extra-uncomfortable. Then they encourage you to drink tubs of soda.
When the movie is finally over, you want nothing more than to get up and skip out of the theater -– but it’s not that easy. The muscles in your backside have gone on strike. They’re stubbornly frozen in place, making it impossible to walk in a normal manner. You find yourself unable to bend your legs at all, so you end up doing an awkward-looking shuffle –- your butt thrust out, you walk in short pivots instead of steps. Fortunately, everyone else is walking that way, too, so you’re not alone –- you all look like the Children of Frankenstein.
Recently, however, I thought that my search for the acceptable theater seat was over when a friend suggested going to a movie. “We can go to the new theater,” she said. “The seats mold to your butt,” she added reverently. Now this I had to see... er... feel.
The two of us were early for the show –- so we could have extra time to find our way to our seats, since we assumed that the theater was most likely huge and maze-like. And, I noted as we walked in, expensive. The cavernous lobby with its fancy lighting told us that we’d be shelling out more-outrageous-than-usual ticket prices.
We made our way through the lines of other curious movie-goers and finally found our way to the right theater. The excitement mounted as we chose our seats. We giggled and sat down.
Slowly, I sank into my seat. It felt... weird. I giggled again as I shifted in my seat. I poked at it. I made handprints in the seat next to me. I was thoroughly entertained, and the movie hadn’t even started!
The seats were made of the same sandy foam-like stuff that’s in those soft, squishy objects (in the shape of golf balls or you boss’s head) that you squeeze (supposedly to relieve stress). When you let go, they slowly go back to their original form (which is good for the seats -– because who wants to sit down in someone else’s butt print?).
It all seemed like a great idea, but could it stand up to the 150-minute comfort test?
It started out great. If my butt wasn’t comfortable, it was at least entertained, and that kept it happy. But –- I’m afraid to report -– the novelty of it all didn’t last long. Before long, I was shifting uncomfortably in my seat, trying not to kick the kid in front of me in the head. I checked my watch –- to discover that the movie was far from over. Then I shifted again. The seat may have molded to my butt, but it was, in no way, soft and cushy. It was like sitting in a tiny box of potting soil.
By the time it was all over, I remembered very little about the movie. If I recall correctly, I thought that I liked it.
Once the movie was over, it was time to get out of my seat. But I wasn’t sure if I could. What if my seat had molded to my butt and had actually began to swallow it? I’d never get out...
Slowly, I pulled myself out of my seat. My muscles groaned as though I’d just woken them from a long winter’s nap.
I turned around for a minute to study the butt-print in the seat. I giggled. Then I waddled out of the theater and to the parking lot with the rest of Frankenstein’s children.