Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Ice Harvest (31Jan06)

This week, my dedication to Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater was tested. On Monday morning, I woke up with a bit of a scratchy throat. By Monday night, I was shivering under a blanket on the couch, falling asleep while watching TV. I spent most of Tuesday asleep, trying to throw back whatever it was that I'd managed to catch.

Things weren't looking good for our weekly trip to The Cheap Theater.

At four o'clock, when I woke from my afternoon nap, I decided that I was feeling a little better. Maybe I'd be able to go after all... I sat up and got a little work done while still curled up on the couch -- and then I got up and made dinner.

By the time Paul got home, I was eager to get off the couch and get out of the house for a while -- and, I explained, watching a movie at The Cheap Theater wouldn't be much more strenuous than sitting on the couch, watching TV. Paul, however, was a bit skeptical. After all, I did kinda look like I'd been run over by a bus.

When we'd finished dinner, I went to my office to check the schedule. There were only three decent movies that we could still make -- two that weren't all that appealing and one (The Ice Harvest) that was in its first week at the theater. I was tempted just to give in and stay home. But then I checked next week's schedule and found that The Ice Harvest was making a quick departure -- and if I didn't catch it this week, my chances of catching either the four o'clock show or the nine-thirty show next week were less than slim.

And since it's no secret that I've had a bit of a crush on John Cusack ever since I saw Better Off Dead in middle school, my decision had been made for me. Fever or not, I was going to The Cheap Theater -- even if it meant infecting all the other Crazies. I put on some makeup to make myself look a little less pasty, I threw on my favorite old sweatshirt, and I was ready to go.

As we made our way to the theater, I noticed the Now Hiring signs on the pizza buffet window -- but still no sign of a Grand Opening date. There were, however, filled napkin dispensers out on the tables, so it can't be long now...

We walked up to the ticket booth, and the girl behind the glass gave us that, "It's you again" look. It made me wonder if there are more like us -- or if we're the only ones who religiously attend the weekly Cheap Night. I have a feeling it's just us.

This week, the lobby was much livelier than it had been in weeks past. There was a line at the concession stand, and people were milling about the restrooms. There were even a pair of men -- a security guard and a guy in a spiffy suit -- guarding the ticket-ripper, who was thus much friendlier than usual, despite the fact that he was wearing just the standard-issue candy-cane striped shirt. I was intrigued by the extra security -- especially since I've never seen the need for it. But if there's a Cheap Theater Brawl someday, I hope I'm there to witness it.

I expected our movie, on its quick pass through The Cheap Theater, to be hidden in one of those tiny theaters in the middle of nowhere. Instead, it was in one of the big theaters -- one that was already filling up when we arrived and took our back-corner seats. Paul took off his coat and threw it over my lap to help keep me from shivering. Then he tried to strike up a conversation about the difference between PG and PG-13, but I was much too stoned for debate.

This week's crowd was fascinating. We were surrounded by Random Gigglers and -- my personal favorite -- Commentators. You know the type -- the ones who yell things at the screen. At one point, when someone did something particularly nasty to John Cusack's character (on Christmas Eve, no less), one of the Commentators yelled (in a moment of amusing sarcasm, which he felt that he needed to share with the rest of the theater), "Merry Christmas!" At another point, after two characters had battled to the death, another Commentator shouted, "She wanted to kill him!" as if he were pointing out a fascinating insight that the rest of us hadn't figured out after seeing the razor blade that had dropped from her hand.

To be honest, the people in the theater were just slightly more entertaining than the movie itself -- the most entertaining of all being the guy seated across the aisle from me. To begin with, he was a Loud Breather. I have never, in all my life, heard anyone breathe that loudly while healthy (or so I assume, since he had no other symptoms) and awake. He was probably 20 feet away, yet I could still hear every breath over the noise of the movie. It had an effect similar to that of the Chinese Water Torture.

But then, out of nowhere, he'd chance from the Loud Breather to the Howler. He'd let out such a loud, high-pitched howl that he sounded like an injured little girl. And I never knew when to expect it. He could start howling at any time -- whether the scene was funny or not. It was scary -- but definitely entertaining.

Once the movie was over, I had Paul carry me to the car, and I went straight home to bed. All the Gigglers and Commentators and Loud-Breathing Howlers were enough excitement for one night...


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