Scenes from a Theatre

What the fuck happened to people? When did it become ok to disregard even the most basic social graces? A wave in traffic, holding a door open, sorting out your order before getting to the front of a line… this should be basic stuff that everyone knows. How does such a large swath of our population fuck this up? This can’t just be blamed on the “new generation,” either, because apparently a complete lack of situational awareness is an affliction that all demographics suffer from equally. If there is a lab somewhere searching for the existence of a common sense gene, please let me know… I’m prepared to make a large donation.

Full disclosure – I’m a judgmental person. Extremely judgmental, actually. But I almost beat up two old ladies and a ritalin-starved 14 year old today, and I don’t think there is a jury on earth that would have found me even the least bit guilty.

Skyfall came out today. I was more than a little excited to see it. I bought a ticket (yes, one ticket… I go to movies by myself occasionally… just accept it), for the 1:10 showing in the AVX theatre, which meant that seat J16 was waiting just for me; back row, dead centre, absolutely perfect. On my walk to the theatre I actually spent some time thinking about how great it was that you can reserve a specific seat for movies these days. No showing up an hour early, no holding seats for friends (I assume people do this when they go to movies in groups); definitely an improvement to the movie-going experience. This short bout of positivity should have been an internal alarm that disaster was nigh.

I knew from the online seat map that I would be seated next to people on my left, but I was holding out hope that the single seat on my right would be left empty. Shortly after I sat down, two women (one in her 50s, the other probably her mother) made their way down the row and found the two seats to my left, with the more senior of the two sitting immediately beside me. No threat there, I thought to myself – old people are generally well mannered and understand that a theatre should be about as noisy as a library. The seat to my right stayed empty until just before the theatre dimmed, when a boy in his early teens ran down the row, stepped on at least three people, and literally threw himself into the waiting seat. He was carrying a bag of popcorn the size of his torso, and immediately began punishing its contents as if it would attack him if allowed to rest for more than a second. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, or more importantly, heard; a full handful of popcorn slaps against his face, one loud crunch of popcorn gets chewed, then his now-free hand punches into the bag of popcorn, holding the would-be attackers at bay. Repeat this, in one-second intervals, for the next forty minutes. In the first five minutes of his occupation, he kicked my right leg four times, elbowed me three times, and changed seating positions seventy-six times (approximately). The women to my left, meanwhile,  used the time during the handful of trailers to give me my own little preview of what the next two hours of my life was going to consist of; namely, redundant play-by-play of what has happening on-screen (when Django Unchained‘s title was flashed in twenty-foot tall font, the younger one told her mother, “Django Unchained is the name of the movie!”), gasps of excitement anytime a male under the age of 100 appeared, and general moans and groans to fill the silences between gasps and commentary.

As Skyfall started, the thirty-something guy sitting directly in front of me and the spider monkey spun around and told him to stop kicking his seat. His words may have been “stop kicking my seat,” but his face said, “I’ll rip your fucking legs off and beat you to death with them,” and the kid seemed to get the message, at least temporarily.

During the first act of the movie, the women beside me seemed to forget that they weren’t on their couch at home, because the younger one would moan every time Daniel Craig was on-screen, and would damn near slide off of it if he happened to be sans shirt. The older woman was more than happy to play her part in the conversation, agreeing, that yes, she just loves Daniel Craig too, and yes, that scene seemed a little unrealistic, and yes, Shanghai is beautiful at night.

By half an hour in, the spider monkey had won the war against his popcorn, had ran to the bathroom and back, and confirmed to me twice that, “hey, that’s James Bond.” Why the fuck aren’t you at school by the way?

At this point, I decided to cut my losses with the kid… nothing I could say or (legally) do was going to stop his fidgeting, and at least he had been mostly quiet since the popcorn war ended. The two women on my left should know better though, and I was beginning to miss parts of the movie because I was so wrapped up in visualizing their slow, painful deaths. With a third of the movie already gone, my patience wearing thin, and my forty-seven unimpressed looks gone unnoticed, I leaned over and said, “Could you please save your conversation for after the movie… it’s really loud.”

I wasn’t expecting an apology. I wasn’t even expecting an apologetic glance. All I expected was for them to shut the fuck up. What was their response? To start a new conversation about what my problem was.

Meanwhile, the juvenile delinquent to my right had pulled off his shoes, taken all of the change out of his pockets (dropping half of it on the ground in the process) in order to count all of his twenty-something coins, and started sucking on the necklace he was wearing. To be clear, I don’t mean that he was holding a link of his chain between his lips or his teeth… he actually had removed the chain from his neck and placed the entire thing in his mouth, and proceeded to pull it in and out of his mouth like a string of spaghetti. I made a mental note to google, “boy escapes mental hospital,” immediately after the movie.

Overall, it was a horrible movie-going experience, maybe the worst I’ve ever had, but I loved this movie. It was fantastic. Without giving anything away, there was a line in it about getting back to the old ways, and given my experience at the theatre today, I couldn’t help but think that we would all benefit from looking back once in awhile. The world has plenty of problems, but when we can’t even remember how to do the little things right, then we’re really in trouble.



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