Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sahara (21June05)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Cheap Movie Night...

It was a relief to be back at The Cheap Theater after missing two weeks -- first because of Paul's business trip, then because a friend was moving away the next morning, and we got out of her going-away dinner a little too late.

This week, we chose Sahara -- because it met our usual qualifications (most importantly, it had been in the theater for more than a week). On the way there, I yawned and told Paul that this had better be one exciting movie -- or else I may sleep through it. The last couple of weeks of having something to do every single night have taken their toll, and I'm running on pure caffeine now. So Paul, being pretty much as tired as I was, suggested we do something crazy -- spend an extra $42.50 on top of our $1 movie admission to split a gigantic and horrifically overpriced soda.

As we pulled into the parking lot -- a little later than normal -- we were stunned. The lot was so full that we had to park what seemed like five miles away. But now it's officially summer -- which, we discovered, means that every kid in the area goes to Cheap Movie Night because they've got nothing better to do on a Tuesday night. It hadn't really occurred to me before then that school was out -- and thus the kids, with their lack of homework and later bed times, would flock to The Cheap Theater. But heck -- if I were a high school kid, I'd do it, too.

The place was so busy that there were three lines of ticket sales open. I listened closely as we waited in line, making sure that not everyone was buying tickets for Sahara -- and we seemed to be in luck. People were coming to see The Interpreter. Or Hitch. Or The Pacifier. Only one woman bought a ticket for Sahara. Still, though, it was getting close to show time, and I was worried that the theater would already be full when we got there.

"Maybe we should skip the soda and just get in there," I told Paul.

"Or maybe you can just get in there, and I'll wait in line for the soda," he suggested. Paul is a genius. That's why I married him.

So we went our separate ways. He went to the line at the concession stand, and I went to the line for the ticket-takers -- a line that was so busy that they'd even brought in an extra ticket-taker for the evening.

I was directed to one of the bigger theaters, which posed a problem. There were two doors -- each leading to a different aisle. I had to try to use my Wonder Twin mind powers that married couples often acquire to pick the one that Paul was most likely to pick -- so he wouldn't get lost trying to find me in the dark while lugging around his keg of Diet Coke. I chose the door on the left. Then I picked two seats on the aisle in the center section -- two rows ahead of the people behind me and two rows behind the people ahead of me. Perfect.

The opening commercials (the ones that now come before the 15 minutes of previews) were already playing, so I didn't have a lot of time to study my surroundings -- though I did see (and hear) a lot of high school kids. But it wasn't just teenagers who had wandered into the theater. It was small children, too. Before Paul arrived with our mammoth soda, a family sat down in front of me -- Mom and Dad and two kids, maybe three and five years old. The kids stood up and turned around and chattered and giggled and complained and whined -- and that was before the movie began. In the row ahead of them was another family with a three-ish-year-old who stood on his seat and poked his parents in the eyeballs and asked all kinds of questions in his best outdoor voice.

As the movie began, I heard the usual sound of high school girls -- the loud whispering and the giggles (followed by the extra-loud "Shhhhhh!"s from the high school boys, which only brought about more giggles). But the movie was loud enough to drown them out. It was not, however, loud enough to drown out the three-year-olds.

In case you're not aware, I'll just clear something up right now. Sahara is not a Disney movie. There are no animated talking animals or song-and-dance numbers. There are, on the other hand, skeletons and explosives -- as well as a pretty yucky plague. This is not a movie for kids. But apparently the parents of these chatty, squirming children decided against getting a babysitter, for some reason that goes well beyond my comprehension. If you ask me, if you're only paying a buck for the two of you to see a movie, you can afford to spend a couple bucks on a babysitter. After all, we could afford a gigantic soda...

Bringing kids along to a grown-up movie is a lose-lose situation. The kids get bored and/or pissed off, and they'll most likely have nightmares for a week. And the parents will spend so much time telling the kids to sit down and shut up that they'll most likely have to go out and rent the movie later anyway. As an added bonus, once the kids start with the nightmares, they get the pleasure of having a shrieking little body in their bed every night for a week -- or until they can convince the kid that Mommy and Daddy aren't going to die of a horrible disease, in which they get yucky open sores all over their bodies and their eyes get covered in a creepy film (which just reminds me of the time when I was a kid and they showed an ancient skeleton that had been kept in a grandfather clock case on Ripley's Believe It or Not, and I couldn't sleep for ages, convinced that there was a skeleton in my closet...but that's another story).

Sure, parents of unruly children may be able to ignore their kids' obnoxious behavior -- in much the same way that my grandpa, who worked in an egg-processing plant all day, never even noticed the smell of rotten eggs. Unfortunately, those of us who are sitting behind them have not been likewise conditioned.

These parents see no problem with bringing along their three-year-old, who will most likely spend the entire movie yelling and bouncing in his seat and telling jokes and generally being a nuisance to those around them. These same people don't see a problem with leaving their five-year-old alone in the theater while they take their three-year-old out in the hall for a minute to calm him down. But I'd put money on the fact that those parents would also turn and give dirty looks (and perhaps even make a nasty comment or two) to anyone who accidentally forgets to turn off his cell phone before the movie started.

For that reason, I am entirely in favor of both cell phone blockers and obnoxious toddler blockers in movie theaters.


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