Wednesday, June 14, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different (The Lake House -- 13June06)

It's been about a month since we last set foot in The Cheap Theater. But with Paul's trip to Malaysia last week and our trip to the cottage the week before that (with a family wedding in between), it just didn't seem to work out.

Sometimes, throughout the last few weeks, I've found myself thinking fondly about The Cheap Theater -- the way you might think fondly about a close friend who moved away. It's summer vacation now, so it'll be busy at The Cheap Theater -- with all kinds of screaming kids at R-rated movies. I wonder if Hooker Boot Guy has been there lately. I wonder if they miss me as much as I miss them...

But this Tuesday was another Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater that we missed -- but, once again, we had a perfectly good excuse. This week, we had passes for a Tuesday night screening of The Lake House.

When the pass arrived, I can't say that I was exactly thrilled about seeing the movie. I mean, it doesn't get much more saccharine than Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. And falling in love with someone who's living two years in the past? Come on! But when I mentioned it to Paul, he didn't immediately shoot the idea down. And then, when I added that the screening was being held at the big, fancy new theater in town, he was actually excited.

"At least we'll be able to check out the new theater for free," he told me over the phone, from his room in Malaysia.

He had a point there. So, despite the fact that it was a movie that I wouldn't normally see, and it was playing on a Tuesday -- when I could be seeing a movie that I actually wanted to see at The Cheap Theater for just a buck -- I decided that it could just be fun.

Of course, getting ready for a movie at The Cheap Theater and getting ready for an advance screening as a member of the media are two very different things. On Tuesday afternoon, I called Paul's office to see when he'd be able to come home. If he had to work late, I'd just pick him up, and we'd get dinner out -- since the theater's just down the street from his office. To make it through security -- and to find a seat -- I figured we'd need to be there by no later than 7 for the 7:30 show. And I didn't want to risk being late.

Paul figured he'd be home on time -- and when he arrived, he found me fretting over my wardrobe. I work from home, so it's not like I have nice clothes. I have jeans and T-shirts. But I wanted to look somewhat professional -- without looking like I was trying too hard. I just wasn't quite sure how to do that. But believe me -- I had to try really hard not to look like I was trying too hard. I settled on white cords with a white tank and a pink striped button shirt, open. It was a million times dressier than I'd ever been to attend a showing at The Cheap Theater. I even touched up my makeup, ran a comb through my hair, and put on actual lip gloss before leaving the house.

When we arrived -- only a couple of minutes later than planned -- I felt pretty cool. Not necessarily because I had a pass in hand -- though that was pretty cool, too -- but because I was going to a real movie theater. And I was wearing lip gloss.

Inside, as we were pointed to Theater 18, I took in the newness of it all. The fancy blue lights. The digitized everything. The sparkling ticket booth and concession stand. And, just for the record, there were no old men in black vinyl hooker boots. Mostly, there were happy middle-class families. And I'm pretty sure the happy middle-class parents were actually taking their well-behaved children to kids' movies -- and not some R-rated action film, for which admission was cheaper than a babysitter.

It all gave me warm fuzzies.

At the entrance to Theater 18, we were greeted by a smiling staff of about five. The first took a quick peek inside my bag to make sure I wasn't smuggling any recording devices (or outside food or drinks, I suppose). The next two took the pass while the male guard looked on. And the final one reminded us to turn off our cell phones and put them away while she quickly ran a hand-held metal detector over us.

Inside, the theater was huge. And new. And crowded. We'd made it just in time to get some of the last aisle seats in the top middle section. We sat down in big, comfy, stadium-style seats with high cushioned backs and pillowy head rests and plenty of leg room. All around us were signs of newness. The floor was elegantly carpeted. The sconces on the walls all worked. There were pretty blue lights illuminating the steps. And everything was gigantic.

"How many cheap theaters do you think you could fit into this one?" I asked Paul. "My guess is three. Maybe four." The same went for the screen.

And the people around us were...well...normal. They were smiley college kids (who had most likely won the tickets from the sponsoring radio station) and yuppies and young women on a night out with their best friend. They weren't people who looked like they were running from the law, for one reason or another.

It was refreshing -- though, I suppose, not as adventurous as our usual Tuesday outing.

Before the movie started, the guys from the TV and radio stations that accounted for the non-press in the crowd got up to say a few words and hand out free T-shirts. The team of security guards came in to ensure that no one was illegally recording the movie. And I really do think that their presence cut back on things like mid-movie phone calls and unruly moviegoers -- even if the guards were paying most attention to their jumbo popcorn bucket than to the general theater goings-on. And for that, I was happy to have them there.

That's not to say, of course, that the movie was totally quiet and peaceful. Once the movie started, two women behind me continued talking, loudly discussing the movie, until three people sitting nearby got up and moved to the front of the theater. But then something miraculous happened: the women took the hint and stopped talking.

And that was it. No Loud Talkers or Cacklers or Sniffly Snorters. No phone calls or text messages or family disputes or screaming kids running around in light-up shoes. It was surreal.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if I enjoyed the movie because it was actually good -- or if I was just so happy to actually get to watch a movie for once.

When it was over, the man ahead of us clapped politely as I got up to go. My legs weren't numb. My feet weren't sticking to the floor. My butt didn't hurt. And I didn't want to strangle anyone.

This, my friends, is the life.

To read my thoughts on the movie itself, visit


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