Help me go to the movies again

It had been five years since I reluctantly stepped into a movie theatre.

In 2012, my Mom and I watched the movie  Lincoln in one theatre, while my husband and brother watched something featuring Tom Cruise in another.

Lincoln was a good movie – an excellent one, even – but I still spent as much time in the lobby as the theatre because movies give me anxiety.

People don’t ask me to go to movies, because the answer is always no, usually preceded with me looking like I have smelled something horrible.

Only my mother continues to ask. About once a quarter she says, “you wanna go see (insert name of movie I don’t want to see here)?” The answer is no, always no.

I’m not a conflict person. The first sign of conflict in a movie has me leaving for an unscheduled bathroom break or a $15 package of Milk Duds. I’ve even hung out in the arcade in the lobby. I don’t fare well.

At my first viewing of the Wizard of Oz  and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang some 50 years ago, my bathroom break never ended and I would not come back into the theatre, beginning a life-long habit of avoidance.

Last week, a well-meaning friend who didn’t know of my allergy to actual movies told me about a movie that he thought I  must see.

On this rare occasion, I didn’t ask him if he understood who he was talking to. I didn’t make a face, start humming “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” in my head or run in the other direction screaming, “NO, NO, NOOOOO!”.

I listened politely. Then  I went home and looked up the movie and watched the trailer, which gave me goosebumps. That’s never happened before so I shocked my husband, my mother and our two friends Shane and Kelly and said possibly for the first time in over two decades, “I want to go to the movies.”

Saturday afternoon, we hit the matinee at Cinemark to see the movie,  Same Kind of Different as Me. Given the fact it wasn’t about war, the mafia or flying monkeys I didn’t even need a Xanax to go into the parking lot. It was going to be a banner day, l sensed it. Little Kari was growing up.

Cradling my super-sized popcorn like a toddler with my husband carrying my bucket of Coke, we carefully selected seats for maximum viewing pleasure, as well as a quick exit for me should war or any discomfort break out.

Just before the movie began a woman sat right behind us although there were plenty of other places to sit – plenty of secluded and private places.

I’ve only been to a couple  movies in the last 20 years, and never stayed in the theatre long enough to know, or even care, if anyone was talking.

That’s how good this particular movie was – I never moved, except to crane my neck to give this woman behind us the stink eye.

She set the tone at the beginning of the movie by engaging with the scene, “You gave me this painting for free. Now it’s worth a million dollars.” The lady, who lacked what we self-aware folks call an indoor voice, said, “Well, I’d ask for it back.” She was indignant and aghast.

The rest of the movie was spent with my husband’s patented and time-tested you have got to be kidding me look, Shane actually  muttering “you’ve got to be kidding me!,” and Kelly  saying “seriously?” – All in reaction to Chatty Cathy behind us.  I continued to crane my head in her direction and shake it in a slow, but firm, “no” direction.

To no avail. The lady continued to play out her internal dialogue for our row to consider, free with the cost of the movie.

I expected a cell phone to ring, not a play-by-play of Harry Carey’s private thoughts. A cell phone never did ring, not that I would have heard it.

Since I haven’t been to the movie in literally years, I need to know if this is the new normal?

I honestly don’t think she had a clue that everyone within earshot of her was plotting her demise. And by demise, I mean removal from the theatre – I hate violence, remember?

I seriously want to know how to kindly handle that situation by somebody who actually goes to a movie every once in a while, because I saw a trailer for a really good one about Charles Dickens  that I want to see.

And it’s probably illegal to carry a chlorophormed-soaked rag into a theatre anyway nowadays. But I’m thinking about it.

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