I am a social magnet. (Not magnate, as in an “oil magnate” or “shipping magnate,” but as in the kind you stick on your refrigerator.) Now, I’m not saying I’m the life of the party, or that everyone loves me and wants to hang around me. I only wish I could say that – in that sense of the phrase “social magnet,” I am permanently stuck in the off position, it seems.
No, I am a particular breed of social magnet. I am the central attractor for every single rude, loud, wrapper-crackling, inappropriately laughing, line-repeating jackass who has the poor judgment to attend movie screenings with regular members of the public. It never ever fails. No matter what film I see, no matter what time of day, in pricey theatres and seedy sticky floored artifacts of the 20th century, I wind up sitting next to Chatty Cathy, Cell-phone Charlie, or Drunken Dan.
This past weekend I encountered an entirely new breed of the audience member who needs to be voted out of the theatre: the Orgasming Octogenarian. Let me set the stage: I’m a cheapskate, so I generally attend the matinee shows. I hate crowds, I’m antisocial, and I hate people in general, so I wait until a film is on its way out of theaters before I go see it. Thus, Saturday afternoon, I went to the 5:10 showing of The Bourne Supremacy, somewhat surprised it was still in theaters. The gigantic stadium-seating theater was only about a quarter full, if that, and my row had only 5 people in it, including me. I laid out my possessions on the seat next to me, hoping to shoo people away from my coveted arm rests, and relaxed when the lights dimmed and that stupid computer-generated beagle started cavorting on the screen (we get it already – Hollywood does some cool effects – but if you can make a dumb dog look so great, how come Spiderman always looks like a cartoon?).
The Orgasming Octogenarian’s first offense was to arrive after the lights dimmed. Bad moviegoer, bad. She was a hundred if she was a day (okay, maybe closer to 70, but who cares, she was ancient enough for her skin to be degrading into dust), and she was dragging her oxygen-sucking husband along with her. Come on, lady, you’re already old enough for your eyes to turn to jelly – why do you have to go fumbling around in a dark theater, stepping on people’s toes, bumping into their drinks? Whatever happened to punctuality? Jeez, old people these days.
She also felt the need to sit right next to me. There are a million seats, at least a thousand of them in this row alone. Why do you have to sit right next to me? Why do you want to share an armrest with a total stranger? Especially when there is a row of empty seats that resembles the infinity images in opposing mirrors.
We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. This woman, this ancient, dried up, floral upholstery-wearing crone, has mini-orgasms every time the camera so much as shifts focus. Forget scene changes. I thought she was going to collapse during the fight scenes. Case in point: about five minutes into the film, we see Matt Damon, aka Jason Bourne, living it up in India with his ugly pseudo hippie girlfriend, pretty sure they’re safe from the assassins of the world. Matt’s in town, and sees a Suspicious Guy. Suspicious Guy walks into the local telegraph office and tells the clerk, “I’m looking for a friend – there’s been a death in his family, and I need to notify him.” He hands the clerk a photograph of this supposed “friend.”
The movie has just started, and the only people we’ve seen so far in India are Matt Damon and blonde-skinny Lola what’s-her-name. This film is a sequel. The title of the film has the word “Bourne” in it, which – gasp! – also happens to be the name of the main character. Who, for the love of Christ could possibly in that photo?
Of course, it’s a stock image of Jason Bourne. My spasmodic grandma seatmate jumps, sucks in her breath, and drops a load in her granny-panties. Then leans over to discuss this outrageous twist in the film at full volume with her obviously deaf (or maybe he’s just tuned her out after so many oracular-numbing years) husband.
Five minutes into the film, and she’s already violated at least three rules of movie-going: 1) don’t come late, 2) leave a buffer zone if there’s sufficient seating space, and 3) shut yer yap!
I calmed myself, remembering that some people just have a hard time settling into a film, but once it gets really gripping, they become engrossed and fall quiet and still.
No such luck. Not only did she gasp! ooh! and ah! at every jump cut, every significant turn of phrase, and every bitch slap in the film (and, oh, god, it’s an action flick, there’s a bajillion of these moments), she felt the need to translate each conversation for her husband. Seriously, woman, you’re old! Haven’t you said everything you could possibly need to say in this lifetime by now? What is there left to say? Why don’t you just shut up and wait for death – because if you don’t, I’m going to try to summon it fairly quickly.
Okay, so I’m not that mean. I’d never bean an old lady for being irritating during a movie (unless, of course, there were extenuating circumstances, like she reached her hand into her pants or something. That’s just wrong.). What could I do? Isn’t it rude and disrespectful to tell an ancient person they’re rude? I’ve always thought that the only fun to be had in old age is that you can be as fucked up as you always wanted to be, and no one can tell you any different – because you’re old, your mind is going, and you are to be respected for your hard-earned wisdom. I plan to be as cantankerous and ornery as possible when I hit 65, and I plan to live in Florida and drive seventy miles an hour in my golf cart and mow down at least 10 mailboxes a day.
I restricted myself to the stare-down tactic at first. Every time she spasmed and exclaimed, I turned my head (which was only twelve inches away from hers) and stared her down for at least ten seconds.
Nothing. Nada. No effect. Experiment resulted in negative results.
Next I tried the whispered, “Could you please be quiet?” Several times. When has this ever worked? Can anyone tell me? Please? Bueller? Anyone? Ask the jerk with the cell phone to turn it off, he doesn’t. Ask the giggly teenage pock-marked girls to hold it down, they just giggle more and call you an old fart. Ask the old fart to please shut the fuck up, and they just keep right on trucking. After all, they’re old, they can pretend to be deaf. Or brain dead.
I stretched myself across the seat, angling away from her, but it was not a significant enough distance, and besides, it gave be a backache. Then the fight scenes started in earnest (including the one with his fellow assassin. That guy’s alarm code is the same as my extension at work. How weird is that? I digress). The fight scenes, with twitchy camera work and satisfying bone crunches, were sadly diminished by the old broad cumming in her seat next to me.
Wanting to cry with the frustration, I shifted over two seats. This offered some relief, though my movie-going experience was shot at this point. Instead of the nice escape from my miserable life that going to the theater was supposed to be, I was just that much more ticked off at the world. Not even old codgers can be expected to have manners anymore! I thought these people grew up with Emily Post tomes under their pillows. You know, white gloves on Sundays and “children are meant to be seen and not heard” (oh, how I miss that one).
So for the rest of the film, I theorized on what I could do to stop the bad movie manners madness. We’ll never get the usher back, that pimply, gawky kid who roamed the aisles with a flashlight and told you to keep your feet of the chair in front of you, to take your screaming toddler out of the rated R film, to take your phone call to your ho outside. That would cut into the theater’s profit margins. No, it will have to be a grassroots movement, by the people, for the people.
My solution: pre-printed cards. I plan to take a bunch of cardstock and print up a thousand of my “Movie Violation” cards to hand out to these boars of human society. So at the end of a film, I can stand up, walk right over to the orgasm queen of the nineteenth century, hand her the card, and wish her a nice day. Hands washed of it, and it wouldn’t start any fights. Not that I wouldn’t win against an old chick with boobies around her ankles, but it’s the principle of the thing.
The card would read something like this: “Congratulations! You have been identified as a Movie Violator. You have degraded the experience of this film for your fellow audience members by committing one of the following rude, inconsiderate, or just downright stupid offenses:
1. Coming in late. You stumbled your way through the dark theater, blocking people’s view. More than likely, you crawled over ten people to get to the last remaining seat because you can’t be bothered to show up on time. Yes, that seat is taken. Go away.
2. Sitting right next to someone in an empty theater. There are a hundred other great seats out there. Don’t be that guy.
3. Talking during the film. What’s so important that you can’t hold on to it for two hours? Are you dying? Is your buddy dying? No? Then shut the hell up!
4. Talking to the film. Watching a movie is not an interactive experience. Hint: They’re not really up there. The slut going down into the darkened basement can’t hear you telling her the killer is down there. Again, shut the hell up!
5. Laughing inappropriately. It is not funny when someone’s brains go shooting out of their heads. It is not funny when some poor kid gets stripped of his clothes and beaten to within an inch of his life. The Exorcist is not a comedy. And you’re not cool for laughing at these things.
6. Crackling your candy wrappers. Yes, it does bother everyone! And you do not make things better by trying to be quiet, drawing it out for fifteen minutes. Open the damn bag, pour as much as possible into your hand, and eat it, you fat cow!
7. Leaving your cell phone on. The vibrate function is useful, people! (Not to mention pleasurable.)
8. Answering your cell phone. You’re not that important. And now, you’re an asshat.
9. Kicking the seat in front of you. Please take note of the fact that this theater is currently looking into the benefits of installing bear traps on the backs of all the seats, specifically to bite the crap out of people like you.
10. Bringing your screaming toddler or misbehaving child to the movies. No, they’re not cute. No, not everyone understands. In fact, we’d all like to hold you down and sterilize you so that you can no longer be a breeding source for even more rude, inconsiderate people like yourself. Guess what? If you take your hideous child outside, and ask the management to exchange your ticket, they’ll do it! You can come back without the ear-bursting urchin. Do it, for the sake of your future children.
11. Other (fill in offense) ____________________________________________.
If you have been identified as a Movie Violator, please take care to curb your rude behavior in the future, for the benefit of all future movie-goers. For more information, visit www.themoviesarenotyourlivingroom.com.”
I felt much better after coming up with this solution. I plan to put it into effect at the first opportunity. I just wish I’d have had this handy-dandy card for my good friend the Orgasming Octogenarian.
Or that I’d sat next to her husband. He seemed very nice. And quiet. Poor man. I have to sympathize with him – I’d go deaf, too, if I was married to that.