I can have a bit of an obsessive-compulsive streak about certain things. I’ll never put $13 worth of gas into my car and I generally avoid that number at all costs. I set my alarm for the exact time every work morning, and it’s not on the hour (7:06, if you’re curious). My budget from paycheck to paycheck, after bills have been paid, involves having at least X amount of dollars per day until the next payday. If it ever drops below that amount, all hell breaks loose in my skull and I start acting like I belong in a Soviet bread line until my daily budget is back up to or above X dollars per day. It’s not intrusive at all, it’s not unhealthy, and I’m not quite up to the “ten minutes to Wapner” stage. Think of it more like Larry David’s obsession with meaningless minutiae. It spills into my theater experience. Here’s the standard movie-going occasion for me if I’m going to a mainstream theater. If it’s an indie theater, all bets are off:
The Show Time
I like an empty theater. Everyone probably does, but I’m perfectly willing to go way the hell out of my way to get to it. As such, I go for the first matinée available. This means 10 a.m. shows. I’ve gone to shows that started as early as 9:30 a.m. and almost never go if it’s after noon. That’s when the theater starts to fill up. The ancillary benefit? The place I usually go sells tickets at rock-bottom prices ($4) to their first showing of the day. And while we’re at it, I always aim to be there 10 to 15 minutes before the movie’s scheduled start time.
The Ticket Purchase
There are three options here. There’s the call ahead option using services like Fandango. Since I’m going to mostly empty theaters, there’s no need to do that. There’s the option most people use- standing in line and paying the pimply faced, cracking voice teenager behind the counter. And then there’s the glorious option behind door #3- the kiosk outside the building. You walk up, you choose your movie, you swipe your credit card, and it spits out your ticket and receipt. Granted, the lines aren’t extremely long for 10 a.m. shows but I still trust the kiosk to be quicker. And besides, why bother the pimply faced teenager if I don’t have to?
I know it’s sort of gauche to eat things during a movie, at least among some more serious movie viewers. But hang with me, I can ‘splain. The purchase is typically a small or medium Cherry Coke and a small popcorn. I almost never drink soda- I probably average one 20 ounce bottle every two weeks. But there’s something about having it at the theater that makes it the perfect beverage. The crazy thing is that it’s not like I drink Cherry Coke anywhere else. That one 20 ounce purchase I make isn’t Cherry Coke. And while I do have a Coke v. Pepsi preference, it doesn’t preclude me from getting the Cherry Pepsi if they don’t have Coke. As for the popcorn, I get it with no butter. After the purchase is made, I then head over to the concessions condiment table to grab my straw and a handful of napkins. And then it’s off to my destination.
Seating and Consumption of the Concessions Purchases
Since the whole point of going early is to avoid a packed theater, I’ll head to the front. Most people prefer the back of the theater anyway. Let ’em have it. But I won’t go to the very front. I’m not some uncivilized cave man. So the preferred spot is the 2nd to last row of the front section of the theater. You won’t sprain your neck, AND you avoid the back-of-the-theater crowd. More importantly, this helps prevent any ambient popcorn-eating noises from annoying neighbors. Just to be on the safe side- because there’s nothing worse than hearing another human being eat- I try to eat as much of the popcorn as I can as the theater fills up, before the movie starts, and preferably as much as possible even before the trailers begin. Once the show starts, the number of times I reach into the bag is pretty minimal. As far as location within the row of seats goes, I aim for the 2nd or 3rd seat into the row. This puts me right on the aisle should I need to make an emergency restroom visit. Speaking of that…
These are only done once, right after I’ve staked my claim to my seat. I’ll put the popcorn and drink down in the seat and seat’s cup holder, respectively. And then it’s off to the restroom. The whole operation is done before trailers have even started.
Cell Phone Usage
Last but not least, there’s the turning off of the cell phone. As soon as I’m settled in for the long haul after the restroom trip, I’ll enter the dollar amounts into the checkbook on my phone’s checkbook app, and then it’s nighty-night for the phone. It’s always on vibrate anyway, but I’ll just go ahead and turn the whole thing off. Again, this whole thing is done before the trailers have even started.
And there you have it- a tiny glimpse into the mind of a neurotic insane person who goes to the movies. It really didn’t always work this way. It used to be only a drink, no popcorn, show up whenever, sit wherever, etc. And so, readers, what’s your (hopefully less involved) theater ritual?