I do not need all of my fingers to count on both hands the number of times the Norwegian Artist and I have seen a film, together, at a movie theater.
This is not to say that the man and I do not date -- since we met, 28 years ago as wretchedly poor college students, we have dated by taking walks, long walks, and talking.As romantic as it would be to say that we hold hands during these walks, it gets a bit inconvenient after the first mile or so. (When we lived in College Place15 years ago there was a couple in their 80s who jogged holding hands -- this was very sweet, but uncomfortable-looking.)
But back to the theater and our normal-looking date, complete with Chinese dinner beforehand and the requisite run to the hardware store to look for, and not find, all of the things we need for our ongoing house projects.
The room was what we consider packed, with some 30 people, all within three seats or rows of where we were sitting, and the remainder of the room empty. We felt like fishermen on a lake, apparently having snagged the prime two seats in the auditorium.
Now theaters are like highways -- most of the people you encounter there are reasonably normal, but the odd ones -- those who float along at 45 miles per hour in a 60 m.p.h. zone, only to accelerate to 75 just during the time that there is a passing lane -- make you understand why the term "road rage" was coined. (I have not yet encountered an appropriate term for filmographic fury -- "movie madness" sounds too much like a sale at the department store. Surely there must be a federal word czar who can address this situation?)
In theaters, these irritating people maintain a loud, running commentary on what everyone in the room is seeingon the screen and what it means to the Commentator specifically, (there must be a lot of people out there whose dates wear hearing aids), or they kick the back of your seat, or they chew with their mouths open and backwash their pop.
Mercifully, all 30 of our companions were quiet and chewed with their mouths closed.
There was, however, one vexingly irritating fully grown male two rows in front of us who apparently was unable to read, because he ignored the "Please turn your cell phone off" announcement prior to the previews. At least he wasn't talking -- loudly -- about his latest business scheme or that horrific blind date his sister set him up with.
He was, however, checking his Facebook account on his very, very bright blue, LED-lighted phone, and I can't tell you how the blue of the LED clashed with the green of the "This Preview Has Been Approved for All Audiences" screen.
The beauty of previews is that they enhance your movie experience, allowing you to see, say, four additional movies for the price of your ticket, without the obligation of sitting through the entirety of any of them. In a 45-second sound bite, you get the heart-pounding, pulsating music; the explosions; the car chases; and just enough of the bedroom titillation to satisfy or sate.
But this man was driving 45 in a 60, a night-light beacon in an otherwise dark room, and nobody needed the light to make it to the bathroom.
My Tired-of-Being-Youngest progeny mentioned this similar behavior in a movie she recently watched (unlike me, she would need all of the tentacles on an octopus to chart the number of times she has been to the theater, this year). Several people in the room had paid $9.50 to sit in the dark and text friends for the next two hours about how they were watching a movie.
Unlike the man in the theater, however, these people would not go 45 m.p.h. in a 60 m.p.h. zone, because none of them was yet of legal driving age, being, in effect, coddled and cosseted teenaged prima donnas with too much stuff and not enough manners. (Oops -- my generation gap is showing.) They will eventually grow up, one hopes. At least someday they will face a bill for something that they will have to pay, somehow, on their own.
But my bald, 30-something, social-networking, outwardly fully developed adult was indulging in his pubescent side, perhaps not yet having faced the need to pay a bill on his own. Why his wifely companion or the fishermen immediately behind him did not knock the device out of his hand is beyond me, but some level of adulthood must have been activated in his brain because shortly after the movie began he had updated with all of his friends and mercifully turned the phone off.
Good call, guy.
Carolyn Henderson is manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. Find more of her writing at middleagedplague.wordpress.com.