I come from a large family, so I have a lot respect people’s personal space. If I’m you’re neighbour, I’ll try to keep the volume of my music and TV down. I don’t man-spread on public transit, and I take off my backpack on a crowded train. Living in a city, I feel the more space we can give each other, the better we’ll get along.
Last night I saw Stand by Me at The Rio Theatre. I hadn’t seen in the movie in decades, and I was really looking forward to it. I love Stand by Me because it reminds me of what it was like growing up in the Seventies; it evokes memories of wide open spaces, train tracks, and hours long bike rides.
I’ve learned to show up at The Rio 30 minutes before a movie because you can never gauge how big the crowd is going to be. For example, the midnight screening for Saturday Night Fever was almost empty, but Escape from New York was two-thirds full.
I’m a curmudgeon, and I own that. I believe that movie theatres are sacred and that once the lights go down, you don’t talk, text, or take pictures of the screen. I also realize that when I see a movie at The Rio, I have to expect some people’s idea of the theatre-experience is more interactive than my own, that’s why I made ssure to find a seat as far away from anyone else as I could.
It’s a little know fact, but generally, if I a person is sitting by themselves in a moderately empty theatre, they want some space. I for one, am glad to move over if the movie sells out, but otherwise, back off.
I found an aisle seat in almost empty row with five seats between me and the next person. The theatre was just over half full, but plenty of seats.
The movie starts and this woman comes down the aisle stops dead in her tracks like she’s with someone in my row and then takes the seat one over for me, which is fine. Then she starts eating sushi with lots of ginger.
A couple of seconds of her taking her seat, I realize she’s an over-reactor. A hint of humour has her in stitches and she gasps at the tiniest turn for the worst.
A few minutes go by, and her friend shows up and sits right next to me even though there is plenty of room between her friend and the next person over. She then spends the next five minutes talking to her friend and squirming in her seat.
Now I’m annoyed and not paying attention to the movie I paid $12 to see; which in the grand scheme of things, is not lot of money but still not free.
I think to myself, maybe I should move, but it’s pretty dark in the theatre; I can’t tell if there are any good seats in front of behind me. I also think, “I got here on time to find a good seat, why should I move?” There’s is also there’s paranoid delusional part of me that feels, they’re action out to get me to move, to which I think, “Oh hell no.”
Then it gets worse. The woman sitting next to me has an even shorter response mechanism to humour. Her laugh is like Nineties-sitcom-laugh-track, and not that it’s dog-whistle shrill. And then they both start reciting lines from the movie at the top of their lungs. I was like, “Are you for fucking real?”
It’s moments like these where I have to analyze just how big of an asshole I really am. I love the sound of laughter, but not laughter for the sake of laughter. And if you and you’re friend are going to interact with a movie, did you really need to sit by the guy sitting by himself to do that?
Louis CK does this great bit about a theatre student practicing her vocal scales on a subway regardless of how annoying it might be to the nurse who just worked a 14 hour shift. While I’m no nurse, and I don’t it’s too much to ask to watch an old movie in peace at my local repertory theatre.
After the film was over I called a friend and told him about what happened. “I hate it when people pull that shit,” he said. “They hijacked the movie!”
He described it perfectly. Instead of paying attention to the movie, I was paying attention to them. I still enjoyed the movie, but what I remember most, is the women sitting next to me and not the film, and if you ask me, that’s bullshit.