With Friends Like These, Who Needs Cinema?

I went to see a movie in the middle of the day during the middle of the week and to say the least, the other examples of humanity that sat around me in the theater were interesting.

One of the perks of being my own boss and traveling alone for work is that if I have the inclination to view a film and enjoy the fruits of the theatrical arts, I may do so at any time I please and on the wings of a whim. This whim came after my stomach growled and I developed a keen hankering for a large tub of butter flavored oil with a kernel or two of popcorn floating around in it.

As far as the fare on the screen, it was not exactly what I’d call a candidate for the Oscars, but what I managed to catch of it was adorable.

It was Boss Baby produced by DreamWorks.

You might say to yourself or sharply to the stranger next to you if you have a problem with boundaries, “Why would a grown-“A” man go to see a cartoon in the middle of the day all alone? And by the way, the “A” stands for adult, you potty mouth.

Don’t worry, I have an answer for you and it’s similar to the reason I found myself alone in a line full of pre-teen girls to see the Hannah Montana movie.

There wasn’t anything else on I hadn’t already seen. And a note on the Hannah Montana thing: Once I realized a thirty something year old man standing alone in a line with a bunch of tween girls to see a tween girl movie was more than a little creepy, I shouted, “Just kiddin’!” and ran out screaming. Had I known that just a few years later, Hannah Montana would turn into Miley Cyrus, I would have made all of the girls in line go home too. “Trust me, this is for your own good,” I would have scowled.

All that to say I found myself in a theater to see Boss Baby, seated perfectly in the middle of the venue, which is the way I like it, with a dripping tub of popcorn that would leave a grease stain on my shirt even a Pinterest pin couldn’t help. I was unashamed because I was alone and the only person who knew I was spending my time this way was the disinterested girl at the concessions counter.

But that didn’t last.

I forgot that there were others who might possibly surround me in my oasis and put a damper on an otherwise perfectly orchestrated moment of … pathetic-ness? Pathetic-tivity? Pathetic-osity?

The first to file into the dimly lit gallery was a trio of ladies out for an afternoon on the town. They were so loud coming in with their gaiety that I could hear them from around the corner. They were out and it was clear that this was the only thing that mattered. The kids were at school and if there were husbands, they were nowhere to be seen. This was their time and it would be a cold day in hell before they gave up the joy that went along with it.

I’m suspicious that there may have been a bit of early tipping of the sauce for one of them as she noticed me and stopped to almost slur back to her two friends, “Ima just go sit next ta this guy. HAAAAW – HAW HAW HAW HAW!” The friends replied in kind and I gave a smile and a nod, accompanied by a covert roll of the eyes I learned from my twelve year old son. They sat about three rows behind me and within a few minutes I had managed to tune them out.

Just as I had found some peace of mind and came to the conclusion that a little company wouldn’t be that bad as long as they neither talked during the movie, nor judged me for the size of the bucket of popcorn I was tackling by the fistfuls, a duo of teen girls walked in and sat directly in front of me, denying my feet further access to their armrests. Not only were they now challenging my comfort, but as I offered the same smile and nod that I had given the cast of Sex and the City behind me, they returned a roll of the eyes, curiously similar to the one taught to me by my twelve year old. I almost asked if I we knew each other, but any older man will tell you that further contact with young women after an eye roll like that can lead to disastrous effects to your ego.

That could have been the end of it, but they both then whipped out cell phones with the brightest screens I’ve ever seen. It was like looking straight into a solar eclipse.

Eventually, the previews started and the ladies in front of me were decent enough to put their phones away. But then two moms with their four small children entered and sat a few rows below me.

Why were children here?

Didn’t they have school or daycare?

Yes, this was a cartoon movie, but I still wanted to scream, “WHAT’S THE MEANING OF THIS?!”

These were jolly children, indeed – children who laughed heartily and loudly in a kind of annoying, high pitched twang at the funny cartoon previews.

HAAAAANHHHGGGGHH!

Children who laughed at a candy bar that floated across the screen to pimp the goodies at the concessions counter.

HAAAAANHHHGGGGHH!

Children who found the little baby rear-ends in the opening sequence of the movie hysterical.

HAA – HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANHHHGGGGHH!

Understand that I, myself, am normally a jovial sort, but I had already conceded that I was becoming “that guy” by being here in the first place. I wanted to do this alone, but had not been allowed to do so and now with the sounds coming from in front and behind me, I felt like I was watching a movie in the middle of a barn yard.

Haw HAAAAAAAAW!

HAAAAANHHHGGGGHH!

Haw HAAAAAW!

HAAAAANHHHGGGGHH!

In a streak of genius, God sent a clap of thunder (No kidding. It had “come up a cloud”, as we say below the Mason/Dixon line) and the screen went black about fifteen minutes into the movie.

All was silent for a few brief seconds while everyone murmured their versions of, “What happened?”

Then one of the women behind me whispered something, then another one of them whispered back and added a snicker.

“HAAAAAAAAAAW!” said the third one, which sent the gaggle of little ones below into a frenzy of, “HAAAAANHHHGGGGHH!”

The two girls directly in front of me rolled their eyes and whipped out their cell phones.

There was a blinding flash of light and that’s all I remember until I woke up on the floor in front of the concessions counter with a disinterested girl looking over me.

“You want a refill?” she asked and held out her hand.

I gave her my popcorn bucket.

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.”