Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (28March06)

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when we arrived at The Cheap Theater this week. There were plenty of people milling about, but they all seemed perfectly normal. There weren't any big lines. The men in suits were standing guard. It seemed like just another night -- one in which nothing especially out of the ordinary would happen, and I'd once again find myself with very little to write about the next morning.

We did, however, notice that lots of people were buying tickets to see Narnia, so we picked up the pace so we could beat them all to the good seats. We sped past the extra-polite ticket-ripper (who actually said "You're welcome," when I thanked him for ripping our tickets). We were speed-walking our way down the hall to our theater when I caught a glimpse of someone familiar. Someone I recognized instantly -- because no one else has ever worn cut-off jean shorts quite like that. Yes, my friends, we were met in the hallway by Hooker Boot Guy and his posse.

Two thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the old guy approaching in his cut-offs:

1) Obviously, spring is just around the corner -- because Hooker Boot Guy has pulled the Daisy Dukes back out.

2) Hooker Boot Guy has fake legs! That's why he's been wearing the knee-high hooker boots!

But I was mistaken. Sure, spring really is just around the corner -- but those weren't fake legs. Those were new boots. Tan.

My guess is that Mrs. Hooker Boot Guy got sick of having to accompany her husband when he got all dolled up in his Daisy Dukes and his knee-high black vinyl platform boots, and she begged him to go with something a little less noticeable -- something more neutral. Something tan with a little less heel.

I hate to break it to her, but it didn't work. The posse was still followed by a group of giggling women who were discussing, as they passed by us, how it was like being on a TV show.

But this ain't no Candid Camera, sisters. Welcome to The Cheap Theater.

Paul and I were still snickering about our latest Hooker Boot Guy Sighting when we found our seats at the back of the theater. Despite the fact that we were seeing a movie based on a kids' book, it seemed like a pretty decent crowd.

But then The Family arrived.

Mom, Dad, Gramps, Granny, Little Girl (I'm guessing about four years old), and Baby (who was so young that he/she came in a stroller). They parked the stroller right across the aisle from me -- and I knew I was in trouble.

Mom, Dad, and Baby took the back row seats, while Gramps, Granny, and Little Girl sat two rows ahead, in front of a man who was sitting alone, stuffing his face with movie munchies. It didn't take a genius to see that this man was in even more trouble than I was. Before the movie even started, he had given up and traded rows with them -- after Dad had walked up a couple of times to chat with the rest of The Family and the others had walked back a few times to chat with Mom and Dad and Baby. But I was still pretty sure that Munching Man was in for even more trouble. I watched and waited.

The Family turned out to be nothing but trouble -- as expected. Right before the movie started (ironically, just as the "Please be considerate to others and silence your cell phones" message came on the screen), Dad got a phone call. He answered it and carried on a conversation while yelling over the sound of the movie. After a few minutes, he got annoyed and walked out. Upon his return, he picked up Baby and began patting him/her on the back. Actually, though, it sounded like he was punching Baby on the back. SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! As I'd been predicting, it wasn't long before Baby started shrieking that ear-piercing Baby Shriek. Instead of removing Baby from the theater, however, Dad chose to stand up and do the bouncy-walk thing around the back of the theater for a while as Baby continued to shriek.

Just when my very last strand of sanity was about to snap, Dad took Baby out. Every time the door opened, the theater was flooded with the sound of Shrieking Baby. And while Dad tried to bring Baby back in several times, it just didn't work. After about 30 minutes, The Family gave up and left.

Unfortunately, that's more than I can say for a woman up the aisle, who spent the entire movie walking in and out with her crying baby.

And I just ask, WHY? It's pretty obvious that the kid doesn't find the whole movie theater experience enjoyable. Just leave her home with her toys and a sitter, and everyone will be much happier.

After The Family left, however, things didn't get any quieter. The kid next to us lost all ability to sit. He stood. He knelt. He sat for a second. He talked a lot. Once he even fell right off his seat -- a sure sign that his mom really needs to stop putting vodka in his juice boxes.

During one particularly suspenseful moment, the older woman sitting in front of me screamed and jumped about a foot out of her chair (which, I have to admit, was almost the highlight of the week, second only to Hooker Boot Guy's reappearance -- and it had Paul and me giggling for quite a while).

Meanwhile, two rows ahead of us, a man held a loud, movie-long conversation with his daughter. On the other side of the theater, a mother held an even louder conversation with her child. It was The Night the Indoor Voices Died.

And everywhere I looked, there was a constant stream of parents and kids and teenagers and young adults walking in and out and in and out and in and out of the theater.

You know those scenes in the movies where there are just so many voices and so many people walking around and everything just gets louder and louder and blurrier and crazier until the character just can't stand it anymore -- and then she screams and everything's quiet again? That's how I felt. Only I didn't scream. I should have, though -- maybe things would have quieted down a bit.

That, or I would have gotten thrown out. Because that's just my luck.

For a while, I was worried that it was all just in my head -- that it wasn't really noisy or circus-like in the theater. I started to think that I was losing my mind (which, really, after a year or so of The Cheap Theater, wouldn't surprise me much). But then I noticed that the two couples in the center of the row ahead of us also looked annoyed to the point of screaming. They'd lean forward. Then they'd look at the crazies on the left. Then they'd look at the crazies on the right. Then they'd whisper to each other before leaning back again.

So it's not me. It's everyone else who's crazy.

In starting to fear, however, that the money I save each week at The Cheap Theater is nothing compared to the therapy bills to which all this craziness may someday lead...


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