Dear Tall Lady Who Sat in Front of Me at the 7pm Showing of “Atonement” Saturday at the Wilma Theatre,
I’m sorry. It just wasn’t your night, was it?
First you had to deal with me: someone who clearly was unhappy with your presence. Trust me, it wasn’t personal. You see, I have bad mojo when it comes to movie theaters; no matter where I sit in the house, unless it’s front row center, the tallest person in the room always, always chooses to sit in front of me.
This wouldn’t be so bad, except that I’m only 5′1″. (Well, one and a quarter inch, but who counts a quarter inch, right? That’s like a full-grown adult running around saying they’re “36 1/2!” You know, totally retarded.) Unless a theater has stadium seating it’s hard for me to see the stage or screen because I’m so short. When I’m on my own, I’ll sit right down in front. I’d rather put up with a strained neck than someone’s head obscuring a third of the screen. My friends know this.
That’s why they steer me towards the middle of the house. They value their eyesight and their sanity. My rotten luck used to frustrate me, but now I just chuckle. I could pick a seat in the most isolated part of the theater and sure enough, a seven-foot tall, 400-pound man wearing a Zulu headdress will be drawn like a magnet to the chair in front of mine. So when I saw you and your friend enter, walk up and down the aisles, and head right for row O, seat 2, I began to laugh. I know I said “Oh, crap!” pretty loudly. I startled you. In the face of my rudeness you were gracious. You promised me you would scrunch down in your seat so I could see. Thank you.
I felt a twinge of guilt, but it was nothing compared to what I felt ten minutes later when the man in front of you turned around.
I hate it when people talk during movies. Oh, I understand from time to time everyone leans over to ask, “What did he say?” or “Who’s that?” The occasional comment or question is perfectly fine; I’m guilty of it myself. If you’re seeing a movie with someone it’s hard to go two hours without any kind of contact. (A whole conversation, though? That’s another thing entirely.
When I saw Interview with the Vampire many years ago at the old Cine 3 two women sitting behind me launched into a blow-by-blow discussion of everything happening on the screen from the moment the opening credits started to roll. After fifteen minutes of listening to their Cliffs Notes version of the film, I turned around and said, “Excuse me? I didn’t pay good money to see Interview with the Two Women Behind Me. Shut up.” Rude, yes, but it worked.
Sure, I’m fairly certain they’re the ones who (deliberately?) spilled their Pepsi all over my purse at some point during the next two hours, but it felt good to tell them to put a sock in it.) I didn’t mind when I saw you briefly bend your head to your companion’s ear and whisper something. In fact, I couldn’t hear you at all. It was short and, after all, the movie had just started. Lots of people rustle and fidget during the credits. No big deal. That’s why I was appalled when that older gentleman whipped around and loudly addressed the two of you:
“WHY DON’T YOU SPEAK UP SO WE CAN ALL HEAR YOU?”
I’ll admit it, I jumped in my chair. Wow. I felt bad for you. I saw you lean forward and say something to him. I can only hope any frustration you might have felt after confronting me influenced your choice of words. I really hope you said what came naturally. Like, “Go fuck yourself!” It’s what I would have done. I would have told you so with an apologetic smile, but you and your friend quickly left the moment the end credits appeared on the screen. I don’t blame you.
By the way, the movie was pretty good, wasn’t it? I didn’t see that twist coming at the end. I went out and bought the book, I liked it so much. I wonder if it will win Best Picture. The kid, at least, should get an Academy Award.