People, we have to talk.
So, here’s what happened the other day when I went to see the movie Truth or Dare at the Regal Grande at Friendly.
That evening, I had some time on my hands and a MoviePass in my pocket so I decided I’d go see the latest teen scream horror flick. Some people don’t like going to movies alone but I actually like it a lot – so, anyway, I decided to treat me, myself and I to the movies.
Now, I like going to movies at “off times” – like Monday or Tuesday evening, or Sunday nights, something like that – because I don’t like sitting in the theater jammed in next to other people, and I also don’t like it when people talk during the movies.
It used to be that you would just walk into the theater and pick what seat you wanted, but now you have to pick your seat when you buy the ticket.
And, when they ask me what seat I want, I choose it very carefully: The main thing I’m looking for is a pretty good seat that’s not next to anyone else, because – no offense to any random strangers out there reading this – when I go to movies I don’t want to sit next to – or, really, even near – random strangers.
In this showing of Truth or Dare, the monitor at the ticket booth showed that the theater was only about 20 percent full – which was fine because that allowed me to find a seat, E-5, on the middle row that wasn’t too far to the side and was thankfully three seats away from anyone else.
So, I get my ticket and walk excitedly toward my seat as the final previews are finishing up. I find seat E-5 and I sit down in my seat that I‘d picked out and paid for, and I relaxed peacefully to enjoy the movie that was about to start –
– only, of course, I couldn’t do that because some teenage girl was in my seat with her boyfriend next to her.
I knew they weren’t even close to whatever seats they were supposed to be in.
Now, I just started shaking my head to myself because here I am just trying to enjoy a quiet time at the movies – one of the few simple joys in life left – and now I have to deal with a problem in a darkened theater just before the movie starts. So I walk up and stand there over the couple, hoping for a minute they would get the clue and say, “Oh, sorry, are we in your seat? We’ll move.”
But of course they didn’t say anything even though they both knew quite well they were in someone else’s seat and that that someone had just arrived.
So, I had to say to him and his girlfriend that I had E-5.
Now, what I hoped would happen was that they would apologize and go nicely to the seats they were supposed to be in, but, instead, she gets up out of my seat and moves over to the other side of her boyfriend. Now, that solved the problem of my seat being taken but everything was still all wrong because now I have someone right next to me who’s ruining the whole purpose of me carefully choosing my seat.
So, anyway, I was trying to figure out if I had a right to complain about the fact that they were sitting in the wrong seats next to me – even though neither of the seats they were in was my seat. It was a little complicated to figure out because, while they weren’t actually in my seat, they were within my protected psychic seating zone that I’d taken into account when purchasing my seat. While I’m thinking this through, I sat down in my seat, which was of course right next to the guy.
So, I’m sitting there but now I’m upset because I’m sitting next to some random stranger in a mostly empty theater when that’s the main thing in life I try to avoid. Now, when I sit down, in my seat, the one the theater by law assigned to me for that movie, unbelievably, the guy looks around at the nearly empty theater and says to me …
“I just don’t like it when everyone is sitting right on top of each other,” he explained.
And I almost snapped and nearly said, “Right! Exactly! That’s exactly my point too! I agree. What you said. So, if you don’t like it then why did you pick two seats at the cashier and then walk into the theater and sit in someone else’s seat – which is literally the only way in which someone can end up sitting on top of you. Who wants to sit in a pile of strangers? So why the [deleted] did you come in and sit in someone else’s seat!?
Rather than make the national news, I decided to move over one seat, to E-4. And now I could tell what the girlfriend is thinking: “Great. Some guy comes in, makes a scene because he just has to have that particular seat, makes me move, and now he’s not even using the seat!”
Regardless, now no matter what happened from this point, relaxing and enjoying the movie in the way that I should is out of the question.
Some of you are asking, “Well, Scott, why couldn’t you just find another seat if the theater was largely empty?”
I knew you were going to ask that and I have a great answer for you: Because then someone else could come in and suddenly I’m the jerk who’s sitting in someone else’s seat.
Even if they don’t come in, if I’m sitting in the wrong seat, I have to worry about it every time anyone enters the theater. Every time someone comes in my heart will race – especially if they head in my general direction. Then, likely after the movie has started, I’ll have to explain that I’m sorry; I wasn’t being a jerk but these other people were.
But you also can’t even really hash any of that out because there’s no time in a theater.
This has been happening a lot lately. When I saw Annihilation a few weeks ago, someone was in my seat. When, I went to see A Quiet Place last week, I got in there and I looked at some guy sitting in my seat and he motioned over at this group of four people who had obviously stolen his prime center seat and he said sadly, “Everybody’s sitting in the wrong seat.”
I appreciated that he was saying – “I’m not the jerk; those people are” – and I didn’t want to move him out of his seat because he was just a victim too.
When that group noticed the confusion, one of them said, “We can slide over.”
No, I don’t want you to move over. I want you to go to the seats you picked at the cashier. I want you to follow the rules of civilized society. I want you to abandon your selfish grandiose sense of self-entitlement and show some common decency and respect for the rules of civilized behavior.
It is about a lot more than me not having the seat I bought. When someone in a theater says nonchalantly, “Everyone is sitting in the wrong seats,” what that really means is that the rule of law has failed and we are collapsing into a Hobbesian society where life is nasty, brutish and short. Soon to follow will be human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together and mass hysteria.
I didn’t like it when the movie people started making us pick assigned seats at the cashier, but it is the rule now. This is civilized society. This is not some Georgia backwoods where we’ve shot some hillbilly with a bow and arrow on our whitewater rafting trip.
Someone has to speak out. You know, at first they came for the people who didn’t care where they sat, but I did not speak out. Then they came for the seats of the people who did care, but it was not my seat so I did not speak out. Then they came for my seat and there was no one left to speak out.
This is not a column so much as a public notice: The next time that happens, they next time I come into a theater and someone in my seat says to me, “Everyone is sitting in the wrong seat,” I’m going to take the movie law into my own hands and see to it that everyone ends up sitting in the seat that they rightfully by law are required to sit in.
“All right, everyone!” I’m going to shout out. “Apparently many of you are in the wrong seats! The good news is that I have a flashlight on my iPhone so we can sort this out. If everyone in the theater would please get out their tickets and hold them up I will help you all find your proper seat.
“Please, let’s go one at a time now …”