As we sat at a high table in the bar area of Buffalo Wild Wings, we discussed what else to do that night. We had already eaten, and he had already beaten me at every trivia game we had played in the last couple hours, so we talked about going to see a movie. Both of us are married men, so we don't tend to go see movies very often -- our wives do not have the same sensibilities that we do when it comes to cinema. I pulled out my iPhone and called up the Flixter app to see what movies were playing and at what time.
First on the alphabetical listing for the nearest movieplex: Black Swan. "I heard that was supposed to be really good," he said.
"A couple of my students said it was really scary." My classes are half-filled with students who attend a school for the arts as part of their studies, and I have many dancers. "They said it was good, but they thought it was pretty intense." I flipped the screen downward with my index finger, reading off some other titles that neither of us was much interested in. Toward the end, though, was our winner: "True Grit?"
"The Coen Brothers," he nodded approvingly.
"I rented the John Wayne version from Redbox a couple weeks ago, thinking I might like to see this version. Sound good to you?"
He answered in his best John Wayne drawl: "Sounds right fine, little fella."
"I'd never seen a John Wayne movie before that one," I said.
"He won an Oscar for that movie, didn't he?"
I nodded. "Rooster Cogburn. I think I remember seeing that this was his only award."
Colin signed his credit slip and polished off his Black and Tan. "So, True Grit?" he asked.
"Either that or Black Swan," I replied. "But True Grit starts about 20 minutes earlier, so why don't we go see that?"
"Sounds good," he said. We pushed in our stools and started toward the exit.
"Probably better for us," I said with half a smile. "Two men going to see a Western makes more sense that two men going to see a ballet."
We decided to just take my car rather than both driving, and we managed to get a decent parking space for a Friday night. We both grumbled (as only men of our generation can) about the absurd cost of movie tickets. Colin tried to use his student ID ("I always carry it," he explained. "You never know. And I might get that PhD someday.") but the theatre had changed its policy and only offered special student rates on Thursdays.
He bought his ticket and stepped aside, and I bought mine. I looked at the ticket. "Damn," I muttered.
"Theatre 13," I answered. I didn't realize at the time that he thought I had suddenly turned superstitous, but all he did was sagely nod as if he got it and followed me as I walked to the customer service desk.
The Regency 20 Theatre used to be called the Regency 8. About twenty years ago, they added twelve new state-of-the-art theatres with better screens, better sound, and -- most important -- better seats. I am a very large man, and although I *can* sit in the regular seats, it is not at all comfortable. Getting up after two hours of movie watching is also dfficult, and I just didn't want to embarrassment of having to ask him to help me up or to stand and watch as I got myself out of that predicament.
"Hi," I said brightly to the disaffected teenager who had been left in charge of the customer service desk. "Is theatre 13 one of the old theatres?"
"Which theatre is Black Swan playing in?"
He looked it up on his computer. "Ten."
I looked at Colin. "You said Black Swan was okay. Is it still?"
"Sure, no problem."
I turned back to the kid. "Can we change theatres, please? I have trouble sitting in those old theatre seats."
He effected the transaction deftly and daftly, making no effort at customer relations other than the mere requirements of his job. (I mean, really, is a polite smile too much to ask?)
So my friend Colin and I found our way to the theatre and got what I always called "The Captain Seats": not too high up, and dead center. We talked about movie recommendations for each other until the previews started, and then we lost ourselves in the movie.
I do not want to give anything away, but when we left the movie we were both overwhelmed with questions and discussion topics. We answered one way and then the other and never did come to a satisfactory consensus on several important questions. I do not think I will ever watch the movie again -- it is probably better as a one-and-done than weakening its majesty with repeated viewings -- but I am glad we went to see it.
Someday, I want to write like that.