As Depeche Mode would say, “…it’s my duty, I’m a missionary…” And so I’m here today to discuss sacred space. For some it might be a church, others a temple, a mosque, a yoga studio, an open spot in a forest, a mountain top, a library; it could be anywhere. As Pajibans, I hope you already know there is a place that is for some of us, the most sacred of all: the movie theater. In the quiet moments of early arrival, lights dimmed, the illusion of cleanliness as a young lad sweeps up the last kernels of popcorn (with no fear of being molested by the manager), one can feel he has entered a spiritual place. The movie theater is a place to worship our idols, whether directors or stars, cinematographers or scorers, writers or costumers. We come to escape, we come to be taken to another place, another world, another life and for those moments that often translate to hours, the theater is our sanctuary.
Not unlike many other sacred spaces one enters, there are a few rules set forth by theaters. And not unlike most sets of rules, some are meant to be broken (no outside food) and some are absolute (cell phones off). But there are a few rules you may not be aware of, and one or two that might need clarification, so as your theatrical spiritual guide I’m going to go over them now.
Get to your movie on time: I get to the theater appropriately early. I go to the bathroom before I leave home because public bathrooms are disgusting. I get my snacks and find a seat that suits me. Don’t come in as the movie is starting and ask me to move so you can sit next to your wife; if you loved her so much you’d have gotten here with enough time find seats together. Can’t you see in my eyes that I’m telling you to fuck off?
Stay in your seat: None of this up, down, up, down stuff. Do what you need to do and then plant it. Go to the bathroom, get your number two deal: super-sized popcorn, blue raspberry Slushie and Sour Patch Kids, say “Hi” to Suzie, then get in your seat and stay there. If I have to stand up to let you in or out one more time I’m going to “accidentally” trip you.
Respect the little people: You walk in with your six-foot-whatever-inches husband, all dapper in his felt hat and you, like me, are a shrimpy five-feet-something-or-other and the two of you look at the seats directly in front of me. Then you both stand a moment, confused about who will take whose coat and there is a shuffling of scarves and popcorn and you smile at me so I know you know I am there. When finally the undressing and rearranging is complete, your husband steps past you in the aisle and plops his giant self and his head-extending hat into the seat right in front of me, effectively blocking out the whole middle of my view. You sit next to him and I notice that had you sat in front of me, things would have been just fine. So I get up and move and the two of you notice but go on chomping your salty treats while my butt has to rewarm a new seat that also allows me to enjoy that delightfully squishy feeling of my shoe landing in a sticky, dried up soda patch. Thanks!
Know and understand the ratings: R (Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian) does not mean it’s okay to take your six year old to Inglourious Basterds and if you do, the ticket taker should have the authority to kick your ass out under the YATSTBAP (You Are Too Stupid To Be A Parent) rule. If you are, in fact, at a child friendly film, please remember to extract your child from the theater if a) he is crying inconsolably for more than 30 seconds, b) he is running up and down the aisle or steps or c) he has pooped in his pants.
Shut up: Nobody wants to hear about your last hair appointment or how you couldn’t find the right dress at Macy’s. Neither does anyone here care what an ass Joe is and how he didn’t pay child support again this month and Trenton wants the new 3DS . No one wants to listen to you talk on your cell the entire time the commercials, trailers and beginning credits run. You aren’t that important, if you were you wouldn’t be here right now. Turn off your cell phone and shut the fuck up.
Shut up, Volume II: Before the feature starts, open your candy. If you brought food from home that is neatly triple-wrapped in foil and plastic, open it. If you need to ask Johnny or Portia if one of them wants some Jujubees and the candy must be passed between five people to be shaken into waiting palms, do it now. Then, for the love of Godtopus, shut all that crunching, scrunching and munching up.
Shut up, Volume III: Do not talk to or yell at the movie. Do not provide your own narration or a running commentary of the movie. Do not ask questions about the movie until after the movie. Do not walk into the theater, sit down and loudly regurgitate every review you’ve read about the movie before we all see it. Do not sit down with your friend and spoil the plot of another current release you just saw. Do not whisper incessantly. Shut the fuck up!
If you are so sick that you cannot control your cough or you must blow your nose like a trumpet every two minutes, stay home: Lifetime, TBS, USA, AMC, TMC, IFC, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, On-Demand, Netflix, Redbox.
And now my fellow brethren and sistren, because I know how respectful you all are of your fellow (wo)man (she stole my heart and my cat), I’m guessing you may have some additions to these few, innocuous rules. Feel free to share these as you see fit, including printing them on a sandwich board and turning yourself into a human billboard.