Sunday, June 8, 2014

Coming Soon

I used to love going to the movies.

"Used to" is the operative term. I recall a time when the show began right after a couple of previews, a "thank you for not smoking in the theater" (!), and a "let's all go to the lobby and get ourselves a snack" -sung by a small gang of anthropomorphic candy bars, hot dogs, and boxes of popcorn weighted down with enough butter to challenge the surgical skills of the finest heart surgeons in the land.

Those days have been replaced.

Now we're inundated by at least twenty minutes of "He was a happy-go-lucky software engineer- until..." , "In a world of evil, one man is fighting back... Based on the shocking true story", and movie quizzes designed to take our minds off of the fact that we've been waiting so long for the movie that the seats which we've now taken up residence in have become ergonomically form-fitting to our Lee jeans.

Pardon me for being so grumpy. Dang it, when I pay to see a movie, I don't want to count the wrinkles my aging body is growing while sitting through previews of "The Sound of Music" remakes, even if the score is all disco. I have my seat. I have my snack. The pimply-faced kid in the red vest and bow tie has taken the ticket I paid approximately nine thousand dollars for. We're all happy now. That's why I feel foul when the first twenty-seven or so previews indicate that there is, apparently, no end in sight. Or isn't there?

 I decide to stand up, stroll out to the lobby, and ask for the calendar date -the approximate day when the movie actually begins. Even as my fast twitch muscle fibers begin to tense, the lights grow dim. I'm skeptical at first, dismissing it as my eyes playing tricks on me and chalking up such dimming to mere wishful thinking.

But now a stir occurs around the theater; other patrons are either sensing the same thing or are finally waking up from the incessant drone of "Captain America Does His Nails Part 2: Taking Back Oregon" as we all realize that the lights are, in fact, dimming. And, as we breathe a collective sigh of relief, the main attraction is further delayed by an ad -a commercial- for that headache powder plugged by Richard Petty for the better part of forty years. This, it seems, is more than many of us can bear, except for the five guys in the front row, all of whom have entered the theater wearing "75th Ranger Battalion" tee shirts -guys who have endured training sufficient to deal with the kind of grueling mental torture we're all enduring at the moment. (Did I say "moment"?) I'm kind of hoping for the irony of a preview for an animated story about "The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf", but instead we're treated to a warning not to use our cell phones during the movie -a warning which, as it turns out, is moot since the volume of the movies is sufficient to induce leakage of cerebrospinal fluid from our ears. I'm sure the speakers will cause no small amount of concern among residents of nearby subdivisions, some of whom are perhaps worried that the sound waves might wend their way among Lily Garden Boulevard and crack the foundations of their half-million dollar patio homes.

The movie does arrive, finally. By now, of course, my candy's "fresh until" date has come and gone and my "small" soda has all but evaporated -fortunate in the sense that that has effectively saved me at least two trips to the restroom during the action scenes.

An hour and a half after we enter elderly adulthood, the movie ends with "But the money bag is in the taxi!", followed by a freeze frame and groans from an exhausted audience. As we spill out into the lobby, which we recall fondly as having had darker carpet when we arrived, we're inundated by several movie posters. And, we decide shrewdly, better to wait a year or so and rent. In fact, I've already placed several in queue with one movie rental company. Best of all, I can skip past the previews. I can hardly wait.

According to the company, they're coming soon.

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