I did something I haven’t done in ages this past weekend – no, not that, I went to the movies – yes – a real live, not on TV or in a jewel case movie – a real live movie! Well, as live as they can get – you know, big screen stuff – very BIG screen.
Movies just aren’t at the top of my list – it’s been 5 years. The last movie I saw was “Ray.” Yep – the 2004 Jamie Fox movie about Ray Charles and I saw it that same year.
Monday, the fascination began, not with the movie, but with the whole movie going experience.
First, I had to find a theatre that was playing what everyone was raving about. I went to ‘net, then hoped I would recognize the location on the map Google provided. I go past theatres all the time, but it’s not like walking up the block to your local movie house anymore.
It turned out to be a ShowPlace 16 – that’s 16 theaters under one roof. I remembered where it was, well, actually, I recalled the parking lot, but I thought that it belonged to one of those wife-beater-tee-shirt-malls that still sell Hillary nutcrackers, beer can hats, velvet paintings, things that look like bongs but they swear they’re not, and crocheted tissue box covers.
I went to the 10:30 showing, an early bird $5.00 special, figuring, that if it sucked, the day wouldn’t be a total loss. The parking lot didn’t have a dozen cars in it, so I parked right up front, and walked right in – at 10am. I thought the place would be packed with us cheap skates.
Opening the first door, into a wide, deep entry, the smell of stale popcorn was overwhelming – familiar, yet only for popcorn, not for the movies. The second door opened into the lobby – a vast expanse – cavernous, very wide and very deep, very colorful, and dead-as-a-doornail.
The ticket booths were right in front of me and like bank-teller windows, along with the stanchions and velvet ropes channeling me through, only one was open, then walked on a little further, and handed it, to again the only, out of the four locations, ticket-taker on duty.
By rote, he mumbled, (don’t ALL young people mumble today), something like, “that’s number 14 – enjoy the show.” My automatic response was where’s number 14 and where’s the ladies room, stopped progress since he had to think and point about two different options and luckily for me, they were in the same direction. He also probably thought something nasty about me never experiencing this great multiplex of silver screens.
I walked down the right hand ell, and while the lobby was bright and colorful, this hallway was dim and lit only with glowing blue lights – one of which indicated the ladies room. Now this was a restroom – the kind they need at arenas and stadiums. I counted 25 stalls – all immaculate and all working. Wow – impressed the hell out of me.
Led by the lights, I went back to the lobby, and could see that it was at the center of a “V,” with eight theatres in each of the two ells. Instead of a lone candy counter, there were four counters side-by-side. Again, since I must have been the only patron, only one person was working at the solitary open counter. It was $9 for iced coffee and medium popcorn w/free refills. I almost missed the “popcorn topping” pumper station, with a rack of shake-on salts and flakes, including the jalapeño shaker, which was empty. Not that I’d ever …
I returned to that right hand hall, walked past that ladies, spotted another dark candy counter tucked away, passed by an arcade room, found my #14, and went in to the most illuminated space in the building.
With bright lights blazing, in front of me, were rows of on-the-floor-seating; to my right, rows of stadium seating – and I was the only one there. I sat in the first seat at the bottom of the first row of stadium seats, with designated wheelchair parking in front of me, as ads on the screen touted the glory of joining one branch of the military or another.
After pulling down the cup holder arms and settling in, I realized that the ads were out of focus – I must have been too close, so I hiked up a few rows.
By now, the local chiropractor, Chinese restaurant, and dry cleaner ads were running, a few other people had come in, but the screen was still a little fuzzy.
One more move, and finally in focus, brought me right to the middle of the stadium seats, eye-level with the center of the screen, but it seemed to be only 50 feet away, about to tip forward, and fall on me!
I forced myself to sit still, get the seat arms down, make sure my purse and popcorn were close at hand, and started sipping my drink, when suddenly, my seat slid forward into a recline position, while iced coffee dripped all over my shirt. I wiggled around and scooted the seat back up straight, steadied my drink, then heard, “For God’s sake, will you settle down. We’re trying to watch the movie!”
Crap – the movie had started, at least 50 people snuck in the place, while I was busy sight-seeing, and fartin’ around trying to get comfortable.
This would have never happened back in the day, in the Bronx, in the 50’s & 60’s, at my walk-to neighborhood, one screen, make-out balcony, sometimes double-feature, ice cream bon-bon’s at the candy counter, THEATER!
p.s. ~ I went to see Julie & Julia – and you should too – it’s wonderful. It’s a “nice” movie – ugh, poor word choice – but it is really nice, interesting, well acted, and aside from Meryl Streep – I love Stanley Tucci. If you’re old enough to remember Julia Child, Ms. Streep has her down pat! Bon Appètit!