Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Here’s how it is with me.

See, it’s not that I like going out without you (that’s the editorial you, of course, meaning whoever happens to be reading this, particularly if we have a social, matrimonial, or familial relationship), it’s that sometimes, I like going out by myself. There’s a difference.

Like last night. Shellswick and Le Sistre were out doing the stuff they like to do. So I decided to go to a movie by myself.

Time was, I preferred it that way; too many of my childhood friends were the type of moviegoers who spend the whole movie nudging your arm and demanding, “who is that? Why is he doing that? What did he do there? Is he gonna die?” I mellowed as I got older, but there have still been times when circumstances forced me to spend most of my time alone, so, y’know, I got used to it. Sometimes, I enjoyed it.

Then there’s the fact that sometimes it’s just exhausting to be me, and I don’t want to put other people through that. Last night was one of those times.

Absent of the womenfolk, I decided to finally go and see Moon, with Sam Rockwell, something I’ve been wanting to see for weeks. The Stranger movie listings said it was playing at 8:50. So I get to the theater at 8:30, giving me plenty of time to get my ticket, get a Coke and some Reese’s Pieces, play a video game or two, and still get settled in with a good seat.

The theater, however, had other plans.

Moon, you see, wasn’t playing at 8:50. It was playing at 9:20. And the guy in the box office seemed honestly flabbergasted that I would get my movie times from anywhere other than Fandango.

Not a problem, I decide, buying a ticket. I figure I’ll play a few more video games. But now I’m wishing I hadn’t dismissed the idea of bringing a magazine or a sketchbook.

So I go to the first floor, where I put a buck in the change machine and get some tokens. I play a game of Galaga, then I go upstairs to see what’s there. On the way, I do this complicated dance with one of the theater employees when we both get on the escalator at the same time, and she turns out to be a “walk quickly up the escalator,” person, while I’m a “stand and let it take you where you want to go,” type of guy. Anyway, on the second floor I play a game of Time Crisis and one of Guitar Hero Arcade (a mistake, given the loudness of the game v. the quietness of the theater on a Monday night, where everyone can hear me whizzing “sabotage” down my leg).

I go back downstairs, to the level my theater’s on. The same theater employee is coming back down the escalator at the same time. There’s still more than twenty minutes till the movie starts, so I decide to play one more game of Galaga. By now I’m out of both tokens and dollar bills; I pull out some quarters, but I find out the change machine on this level only takes dollars. So I get BACK on the escalator upstairs, and guess who’s also going back up? And giving me nervous looks over her shoulder, now apparently convinced that this giant hairy thing is stalking her?

Finally, after one more quick game of Galaga, I get settled into the theater. I was, admittedly, already planning this post, as an example of how the universe conspires against me. I might as well have let out a sigh of relief and said “well, what else could possibly go wrong?”

Recruiting ads; check. Order to silence your phone: check. Trailers: check. Finally, the movie. And the text comes up, informing us that it’s 1933, and John Dillinger is escaping from prison.

I don’t know how much you know about Moon, but it doesn’t take place in 1933. As far as I know, there was no Helium-3 mining station on the moon until at least 1942. This isn’t Moon, it’s Public Enemies.

There are about fifteen people in the theater at this point, all of us thinking the same thing: I didn’t go to the wrong theater, did I? Aren’t they showing the wrong movie?

Finally, I decide to take some initiative. Another guy is having the same idea, and we form a unified front as we go out and talk to the manager. I’ll give the manager credit; he knew there was a problem, he had already sent someone to stop Public Enemies, and a few minutes later, he came into the theater and personally handed out free tickets. Not that that’s much of a sacrifice, given that movies are the smallest part of the theater profit pie, but I appreciated in nonetheless.

That’s not the end of the story. A joke like this needs a punchline, and here it is. They got things started again, including another round of trailers. The first image on the screen was a title card for “FOCUS Features.”

And it was out of focus.

And so, as the movie got started, a mere hour after the anticipated time, a profound truth hit me, one that will transform how I interpret all my past and future experiences:

I’m perfectly normal. It’s the entire rest of the world that’s crazy.

Snuffy Smith, y’all.

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