I was reading the latest post at the redhead papers the other day and it reminded me of something that happened to me a couple of months ago. I don’t think I wrote about it at the time, either because something else happened or because I trauma-blocked it. Anyway. Now I’m about to tell the tale.
A couple of months ago, I went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by myself on a Sunday afternoon. I went to The Grandin Theatre, which is a historic theatre in town that used to be an actual theatre, with a stage and a balcony and stuff. Now the balcony is split into two (or three, maybe) sections where they show movies to smaller audiences. On the day I went to see Eternal Sunshine, it was showing in one of those small screening room-type places.
There were only a handful of other people there, really. A couple of young women, one bald guy by himself, another small group (3 people, maybe), and me. I was one of the first people in and I’m really, really picky about my seat in a theatre. I like to get as close to the actual center (horizontally and vertically) as possible.
It’s kind of hard to do here, because one quirk of turning the balcony into screening rooms is that the seats aren’t exactly centered with the screen. So I picked a seat near the left side of the row, one row in front of the two women but not directly in front of them. Everyone else spaced themselves out reasonably, like you do. It’s a small room but there were lots of seats open.
About five minutes before the movie is supposed to start, one of those granola-eating, natural-fiber-wearing, unwashed-feet-in-birks-sporting hippie type couples came in. You know the couple. They’re both really androgynous and somehow all the same color from top to bottom including hair, clothes, and skin. That’s not unusual in this particular neighborhood, and under normal circumstances I wouldn’t even have noticed them.
Except that when they came in, the guy let the girl pick their seats. And she walked into my row, and stopped at the seat right next to me, on the right. “Is this one okay?” she asked the guy, as if I weren’t even sitting there. He said yes, and she sat down right next to me. And her guy sat on her right.
I was tempted to get up and move, but there was the whole picky-about-seats thing, not to mention the fact that the place was so small and there were so few people there that I’d be making an inadvertent scene by getting up and moving, and I didn’t want to do that. So I sat there. And I felt totally gross, like my personal space had been unforgivably invaded.
I don’t like getting very close to strangers. In particular, when I’m going to a film alone and I know it’s one that I want to soak in and really feel, I need a space cushion. And now I didn’t have it. And I was freaking out and the poor couple hadn’t even done anything yet – they were just sitting there.
But then Granola Girlfriend had to put her stupid Coke in the cupholder next to my seat, instead of the one between her and Granola Boyfriend. And then she had to take her nasty smelly Birks off and put her nasty smelly feet up on the back of the seat in front of her – and the seat in front of me. And she was one of those really skinny fidgety chicks who folds her entire frame up into a theatre seat like a pretzel, with arms and legs everywhere, and then shifts her position about fifteen times a minute. Throughout the movie. And Granola Boyfriend was an Inappropriate Laugher – you know, the one who laughs really loudly at the shit that’s not supposed to be funny? Yeah. That guy.
I wanted to kill them both. I wanted to accidentally on purpose spill her Coke all over her shoes. And by the time I realized that I would have been better off moving to begin with, it was well into the film and I’m not going to get up and shift around in the middle of a movie, because, see, I have manners. So I just sat there and tried to block them out and fumed. And they almost ruined the movie for me.
It’s probably a testament to the power of that film that I was able to enjoy it so much despite my stupid neighbors.
Isn’t there an unwritten rule that you’re supposed to space yourself out at the movies? Unless it’s a sold-out show, and the managers come in and herd everyone to the center, in which case you pick up your coats from the coat-seat and make a big fat deal out of moving one seat to the right under extreme duress and all that. Am I just incredibly anal, or were those people really weird and rude?