Dream Seats

If there's one thing in the world I really love, it's going to a spacious theater on a Saturday night, relaxing with a large box of popcorn and a 150 mg Zantac, sitting back to enjoy a movie without annoying disruptions from my phone, my blackberry or other humans. If I had it my way (and I do, but only when I dream), I'd build a giant theater for myself and attend movies daily -- Martin Scorsese style -- and allow only friends and other billionaires into my special cave. But since I'm probably not dreaming, nothing causes my GERD to flare up quite as much as people who arrive at the theater too late to find a good seat, or, even worse, after the movie has begun and ask me to move to accomodate their self-entitled, flabby asses.

I went to see the "Science of Sleep" the other day (a movie apparently made about my entire 20s) and got there early and claimed a cozy seat near the middle-back. Those who filled in the row around me sensed my surlyness and as the theater filled I found myself with empty human-holders on both sides, which was fine with me: more room to stretch my too-long-for-the-movies-or-flying-in-airplanes legs. Happy Stan says I should use the opportunity at the movies to chat with other movie goers, but that's only because HS thinks I secretly like people.

About 17 seconds before the movie began I felt a tap on my shoulder and as I turned to bite off the offender's arm I heard him say, "would you mind moving over one so my girlfriend and I can sit together?" He had an English accent, long stringy hair and a vibe like Keith Richards, only without the rock stardom and years of drug abuse to back it up. In short, he was a lightweight hipster. Dude, where the hell were you when I was taking this sit 35 minutes ago? I didn't show up early to save you a seat. I couldn't help myself, I actually said that. He was flustered and I saw for a moment a flicker of fear: oh no, this guy is crazy. In New York anything is possible and he didn't know if I was about to stand up and cut off his head with a machete. But I moved over one, finally, because -- wait, why did I move? Perhaps because that moment, over a single movie seat, wasn't the best time to make a stand on principle. But then, when is? If we don't stop the bleeding, the decay, soon, if we don't prevent the ones who live in a cloud (and don't have their own blogs), the ones who do not realize other people exist, from destroying what little sense of humanity our culture has, who will? And don't tell me Paris Hilton, because I'll just slap you.

What gets me about these people is that they're oblivious to their own obliviousness. They think it's okay to inconvenience others to compensate for their laziness, tardiness or whatever -ness they're full of. I was waiting in line the other day at the movies with a friend (I have two) and the line stretched around the block. When they finally let us in a middle-aged woman tried to turn the corner and jump into line. Fortunately, a fellow cranky-panter was on the job and stopped her short with, "do you think I was born yesterday, lady?" What's wrong with her? I know what's wrong. She thinks she's more important than everyone else. She has no empathy, no capacity for love: she's all greed and American go-get 'em-ness. Another -ness taken to extremes. Makes me want to drift off, to sleep, to escape into my own moldable reality.

I often dream of being lost in large, empty buildings, of stumbling up dark steps, of winding through cavernous rooms. I'm invariably alone on these treks, slightly out of sorts, but not completely panicked. Is my brain telling me I'm lost? Or that too often my own psyche is unknowable, even to myself?

The movie was very good, as it turned out, and told the sad story of a boy-man who can't deal with the reality of dating, or of any other people, because he lives his entire life in a dream. The irony struck me only later, but then I wondered if I might not be better off disappearing into my own psychosis, like the protagonist of the film. At least I'd get a nice seat in an empty movie theater every time. I'm so close.