Turns out, what’s wrong with me is — I cannot go to the movie theatre.
Not that I’m not allowed to. No, that’s not it. It’s that I should not be allowed to because something happens to me on a cellular level when I enter that shielding darkness and stare at that huge screen. I think it’s some kind of hypnosis, some kind of altered state, something with my rods and cones that turns me completely nutso.
Because I literally have palpitations just thinking about the potential rudeness of any moviegoer around me.
In the pre-show semi-darkness, I sit and size people up with a furrowed judgey brow: Are you well-behaved? Are you a nutter? Do you talk loudly? Chew loudly? Rustle your wrappers loudly? Are you likely to sit anywhere too close to me? Maybe right next to me where we will spend the entire movie elbowing each other over the armrest? Because, we can’t have that. I will engage my patented water-spill-on-the-seat trick just to avoid that.
I will go insane.
Like yesterday, a couple wandered in rather late and plopped right in front of us. There were plenty of available seats in the place. But nope. RIGHT in front of us. Oh, and instantly started blabbing their blabs and munching their munchums — LOUD-ly. A split second later, I insisted we move to different seats, thereby cementing this outing as yet another precious memory My Beloved will have of good ol’ easygoing moi. We moved two rows back, leaving the requisite buffer row between us. (In my slim defense, I never move seats more than once. I do have some limits.) But then …. well, I started to worry about other people, newer people, later people, sitting in my buffer row and turning my nice new buffer row into another invasion of my personal moviegoing space.
Look. I know I sound insane. Basically, it boils down to this: I become insane worrying about the potential insanity of others. Which really makes me the most insane of all. I totally get that. But I never, ever get that in the moment. In the moment, I am Mr. Moviegoing Hyde and disturbed on a cellular level and I am not responsible for my actions. But, to bolster my insanity defense here, we always sit in the back of the side sections, never in the plump meaty middle because, well, of the overpopulation of nutters. And I need to do all I can to lessen my exposure to them — like a werewolf and the full moon or a vampire and the sun — so we sit on the sides. And who wants to sit on the sides? People like me, who are in control of their emotions, that’s who. There shouldn’t be a problem, right, because all you crazies want to be crammed in the plump meaty middle leaving me alone on the sides with my fine mental health and all. Well, actually, not alone because poor MB is dragged along like dead weight wherever I need to go to stay sane.
So there we were, re-assed in new seats, with that nice buffer row, and I was still feeling nervous about a potential nutter encroachment on my nice buffer row, so I muttered to MB, reeeal casually, “Heeey, baby, can I have some popcorn?” He passed me the tub, not suspecting, I imagine, that I would begin to strew the popcorn wildly all over the seats and floor in my nice buffer row as an encroachment deterrent against, you know, all the nutters.
“What are you doing??”
“I don’t want anyone to sit there and I don’t have any water! Will they give me a free cup of water out front?”
“Honey, I don’t know.”
I jumped up and climbed over him — because I am Mr. Moviegoing Hyde in this moment, remember — and dashed to the concession stand to recon the area for any stray, cuplike devices. I found none and rushed back, muttering under my breath, “Well … I think the popcorn should do the trick ….” as I climbed back over MB.
We sat for a few moments in relative stability, watching the ads on the screen. Well, one of us was watching the ads; the other was swiveling her head this way, that way, a perfectly normal person scanning the area for nutters.
Just then, a man across the aisle in the semi-darkness started playing with his Blackberry or Burberry or whatever the heck those things are. Alert, Tracey! Beep-beep-beep! Obviously one of those worrisome nutters! I mumbled to MB in a steely, Clint Eastwood-like voice, my lips against his shoulder, “I swear ….. I swwwear … if he doesn’t stop when the movie starts, I’m throwing popcorn at him.”
I kept on, all the while staring at Berry Face in the darkness. Staring the stare of death and popcorn flinging.
“Or maybe some ice cubes from your drink,” I breathed.
“Yeaah. Ice cubes, that’s gooood ….” Sanity is now just a dot in the distance.
“Uhm, honey …” His voice was calm, sympathetic, and it washed warm all over me, a soothing flow.
I stared at the floor, counting the stray bits of popcorn that didn’t make it to the buffer row.
“I have movie theatre rage,” I mumbled while plucking buffer row popcorn from my lap.
“I know,” said MB, all matter of fact, as he put his arm around me. “It’s a real problem.”
My head slumped to his shoulder. “Will you still love me when the movie is over?”