My favorite memory at the movie theater happened when I was still in elementary school; I had gone out with my childhood friends - a band of brothers, four out of six back then - to see some PG rated film popular that summer. Per custom, we all wore big, bulky jackets despite the heat in order to better hide our contraband candy and soda bottles to sneak past the attendants.
What I did not know was that the second youngest of the brothers (maybe six at the time? the rest of us varied between seven and nine) had decided to smuggle his own popcorn...and had decided the original bag of kernels fit better in his pocket than the final popped product.
His older brothers, of course, had watched him pack without saying a word or even questioning exactly how he intended to pop the kernels once he got them inside. As we walked towards our screen in the megaplex, the eldest brother very carefully tripped the poor lad. As he fell his bag of kernels burst open, spilling un-popped pieces of smuggled popcorn everywhere.
The attendant quickly came over and caught us all red handed, sending us back out to our parent's car to discard our illegal booty including the remaining handfuls of kernels left in the bag. The mother of my friends simply shook her head; with that many sons she'd seen it all at this point.
At least the elder brothers lost their loot too after betraying their own.
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
If you go to the drive-in they don't care if you smuggle snacks in your car - or unticketed bodies in your trunk.
Four years ago, I walked into the dimly-lit movie theater with my best friend to watch Zootopia. The only lights came from the staircase and the exit signs. Previews had already started and I really wanted to sit down, instead of just wandering awkwardly. There was a small wall dividing the handicaped spots from the upper division and lower division. I thought we could walk through the handicaped row, up the staircase, and go back a row. I could not have been more wrong. It turns out that there wasn’t a staircase on the opposite side. I thought it was there, but just too dark to see. So I walked into the wall.
When I was 13, I went to watch the last Lord of the Rings movie. At the end of the movie, everyone gave it a standing ovation and high fives all around. It was one of those moments where everyone felt like they belonged and that was beautiful to be apart of.
Not Your Daddy’s Disney
I probabably shouldn’t talk about my favorite theater experience, as there are people on site who are G-rated, while my best movie memory was probably PG-13 at a minimum, but I will try to give you the cleanest gist possible.
It was the summer after fifth grade in a small town in the Shenandoah Vally at an early, weekday matinee. Her name was Terri, and she was my very first girlfriend. We spent a lot of time holding hands that summer, meeting wherever we could; Little League games, swimming pools, county fairs, even the high school auditorium for a local rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof,” in which her older sister starred. We spent hours through those hot days silent on the telephone with nothing at all to say, but not wanting to hang up either, and risk losing our connection.
On this particular day the theater was nearly empty. I cannot remember what movie it was, but I clearly recall that Terri wore cut-off denim shorts and a loose cotton top. I remember that so well because not long after the movie started she took my hand in hers and pulled it to her breast. It was my first time touching a girl, and she was heavenly, creamy-smooth, cool to the touch like hand-cranked ice cream with hardened tips like frozen chunks of peach at the top. We were so young that Terri had little more than nubs, but they were so perfect, so soft that the cotton blouse enhanced their silkiness, rather than getting in the way. I can still see her face in the soft, dusty light, her lips unsmiling, her eyes closed, her head laid back against the seat as though she were asleep... but she was not fooling me. The movie was not good, but neither of us was sleeping!
My family moved away at the end of that summer. Terri and I never even kissed properly in our brief time together, but I will never forget her. I have had many experiences with many women in the time since that youthful weekday matinee, but none were ever any more titilating, more heart pounding, or as breathtakingly unexpected as was that innocent, ethereal two hours spent in the bliss of an air conditioned, summertime movie theater.
No wonder every kid loves Disney.
Christmas day, 2003. As a totally spontaneous splurge, (probably to avoid the dreaded in-laws) Dad took me to see The Lord Of The Rings trilogy marathon, just the two of us, while the rest of my family were stuck dining on misery, christmas eve left-overs and "we-should-do-better-keeping-in-touch" guilt at the family brunch held at Nans house each year. I've never been more completely carried away to a different universe as I was in those 9 hours of Middle-Earth heaven.
Theatres are wonderful places. I love seeing other people, caught in minisule moments in time. There's too many to really pick a favourite.
April. Watching a re-telling of a classic tale, Little Women. There was a surprising amount of men in the audience, including a group of 50-something men and their wives. One man in particular was very invested in the story, despite pretending otherwise. I'm pretty sure he was crying at one point, despite his no-nonsense biker-like apperance.
A quiet, devestated whispered 'bruh.' from a few seats back, during a cruel backstabbing in a historical movie - I can't recall which one.
Watching Endgame at midnight on opening night. During the final confrontation, the colledge-age dude beside me, who'd been silent and straight faced the entire movie, let out a screech of "YES!" so loud it startled almost everyone in a five-seat radius.
A group of little kids, yelling thier favourite lines from Zootopia and letting out growls and roars as they exited a Matinee showing, parents trailing them and talking seriously about their favourite characters.
The entire theatre cheering, crying and yelling during the leap of faith scene of Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.
I could feel her hot breath on my neck as I turned my head to hear her better.
“This is so sad,” she whispered. I craned my neck to try and see the screen better, but the man that sat in front of me wouldn’t move.
“Yes,” I breathed, “Do you want to go?” She moved closer to me and I felt my breath hitch. I could feel her chest touching mine, and I thought my chest would burst open with all the excitement.
“Yes,” she murmured. We stood up and shuffled our way out of the aisle, to the exit of the theatre. I had my sights set on the door, but she dragged me to the concession stand.
“I want skittles.” I sighed, and pulled out my wallet as I stepped forward. The rainbow seemed almost ironic, this being my first date with a girl. The boy who wore the apron behind the stand gave us a wink, and I turned, feeling ashamed.
“It’s okay,” she whispered in my ear. She squeezed my hand and I took the money out of my wallet.
“One packet of skittles, please.” I dropped the bills on the stand and he threw the skittles at me.
“Have a nice day,” he scoffed. We walked out of the theatre, and sat on the bench outside. As we shared the skittles, tears began to fall down my face.
“Hey,” she spoke as she stroked the drops off my face. “It’s okay. He doesn’t matter.” She held me in her hands, and tilted her head. Her lips touched mine, and suddenly, I found the truth in her words. He didn’t matter. Nothing mattered when we were together. Kissing her didn’t feel like an explosion of light, in the way that everyone had always told me. It was a sweet darkness, and I found comfort in her. She tasted like skittles.
The movie was sold out. "Sit with your sister here," my mom said. She pointed to two empty seats in the third row near the wall. "Your father and I will be over there." I couldn't make out where she meant. It was too dark. By the time the previews started, she was gone.
I was twelve, my sister nine. Her eyes widened as she moved her head to get a clear view of the screen. Three teenage boys sat in front of us. They joked with each other and talked about what they thought James Bond would do.
Instead getting excited over the movie, I grew anxious about finding our parents after the movie. My stomach churned. I twisted in my seat. As the film started, I let out a huge fart. Instant relief. And it didn't make a sound. 'Now I can enjoy the movie,' I thought.
The teenage boy in front of me covered his nose. "Man, you farted! God!" He elbowed his friend. "Come on man! Can't you hold it?"
I clamped my hand to my mouth. For sure they would hear my muffled chuckles. Snot dripped over my finger as I tried to suppress the laughter that welled up.
"I didn't fart man. You farted!" the friend said.
"I didn't fart. It had to be you. You're the one always letting loose."
"Wasn't me man. It had to be Jimmy."
"Don't blame me. I didn't fart," Jimmy said. "But damn, that stinks."
And it did. The rotten egg smell surrounded us. "Peeyoo Mike," my sister said.
"Be quiet Dana," I said. "The guys in front think it was one of them." My sister saw the older boys elbowing each other and holding their noses. Then her hand clamped to her mouth.
"Shhh." I whispered. But it only made me laugh. One of the boys turned and we snapped to attention, eyes glued to the screen.
"Can't believe you farted man," the boy in front of me said.
"I didn't fart," the friend said.
"Can't go with you anywhere. How are we supposed to meet girls?"
Sharks and Shivers
So many wonderful things have happened at the movies over the years: movies we saw with family while growing up, movies we went to on first dates (at least the movies were good!), good times with friends, date nights with the ones we married... the latest family offerings with our own children. But, hands down my absolute favorite moment in a movie theater was when I was a mere nine years old, and my brother had dragged me to see JAWS.
I was always prone to nightmares, and really did not EVER want to see anything scary - I'm the same way now! A film about a crazy big shark feasting on people was definitely not something I'd willingly go see, BUT, big bro was in charge, and that's what he wanted, so... yeah. I sat in my seat, nervously shaking my legs up and down. I ate my popcorn, and when it was gone, slurped up the last of my Coca-Cola; my gaze alternating between what happened on the big screen and the back of the seat in front of me. To distract myself, I took the plastic cover off my soda cup, and fiddled with the ice (which filled at least 3/4 of the large movie-theater cup), sipping the soda-flavored melt-water at the bottom when there was enough to get through the straw. Though I didn't actually keep my eyes on the screen all the time, my internal tension was mounting along with everyone else's - the sounds and music ensured that. And then it happened - I looked up at a critical moment, and YIKES!!!! That huge shark came up out of the water right behind Richard Dreyfuss, and I screamed, jumped, and that bunch of melty ice in my cup flew up and out and right smack in my brother's lap! Then he jumped too - for reasons other than big screen sharks! Good times... good times!
Served him right - I TOLD him I didn't want to see that movie!
The Day I Predicted The Movie I Was Watching
So, a little context. I sometimes get what I call "prophetic" dreams. Basically, what this means is that I have moments that occur exactly how it happened in my dream months or even years after I had it. This can be anything from conversations with friends, or places I've never been to before. One catch to these "prophetic" dreams is that I don't remember them until the moment actually happens. I consider this to be deja vu, where I've experienced an exact moment before, that happened in a dream.
Anyways, so I was going to the movies with my best friend to see the new movie Zootopia. In theaters, might I add. We watched it the day it came out. So this was an entirely new movie, never seen before. Ever.
And I'm watching the movie. And I realize that I've seen this movie before. I perfectly predicted the ending, and every moment that happened in the movie. It was the strangest experience.
Don't get me wrong, I've had pretty weird "prophetic" dreams before. But never like this. Usually, these "prophetic" dreams are about the actual moment, but this time, it was only about the movie. Not the situation, which was different.
It was really strange, so that's probably the movie theater experience that I remember the most. It was also nice, because for those who have seen Zootopia, there's a small jumpscare with the black panther. But because I "saw" it already, it didn't surprise me. So it was funny when my friend jumped a little bit.