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Such the Spot - A lesson in movie going

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Darcie Maranich

 

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On New Year’s Day my husband and I went to the movies.  As is the case with most any holiday, the theater was packed.  We stepped foot into the auditorium a full 40 minutes prior to show time, but still the middle and aisle seats were all accounted for.  It was a holiday; the crowds were to be expected.  Which, I might add, is why my husband and I made sure to arrive early.  Carefully, we chose from the remaining seats.  We don’t go to the movies terribly frequently, but we’ve been often enough to know that the dark blue seats are the ones that recline.  We chose those. So, too, did we very purposefully avoid sitting directly adjacent to two heavily-perfumed women in the row because the smell of heavy perfume tends to render both my husband and me nauseous.   We chose seats that were between the heavily-perfumed women and a family with young children.  A family with young children who were apparently recovering from a cold, I might add.  As the commercials rolled, we listened as the adjacent children coughed and hacked and practically hawked up a lung.  Being slightly germaphobic, we considered moving, but chose not to, based on the fact that indeed we had insulated ourselves with a buffer zone of empty seats on either side. 

All was well until the final ten minutes prior to show time.  It was then that a family of three waltzed in to the theater, looking for three seats together.  There were plenty of seats together down front, as well as in the non-reclining seats, but still this particular family of three seemed to have their hearts set on three congruous seats located in the prime, reclining-seat, center section of the theater.  The teenage daughter approached my husband and me and inquired as to whether the seats on either side of us were taken.  “Absolutely not,” we answered.  “Have at them!”  

“Can you scoot over so that we can all sit together?” the girl asked.

“I’m sorry,” I answered.  “We can’t.”

Exasperated, she turned to her mother and father, who, despite our polite refusal to move, opted to claim the two seats to our immediate right and the one seat to our left.  Mother and daughter sat to our right while father sat on our left.  Mother and daughter, however, were very put out by our polite refusal to accommodate their request.  They proceeded to loudly proclaim their disapproval, going so far as to call us “rude”, “weird” and “obnoxious.” 

I have teenage daughters.  I understand the outspokenness.  I can even lend the slightest bit of tolerance for the obvious entitlement issues this particular teenage girl clearly struggles with.  And so I ignored the initial comments.  But they went on.  And on.  And on some more.  Finally, I’d had enough.  I leaned over and said with smile, “I understand that you are unhappy that I didn’t comply with your request, but I have my reasons.  You may not know my reasons, but rest assured that I have some.  It is impolite to speak so rudely about me when I am sitting not two feet from you.  Perhaps you should arrive in a timelier manner if your seating is of such importance to you.”

I will only tell you that the conversation went downhill from that point.  The good news, though, is that by the time the opening credits rolled, all concerned parties were seated quietly (if not contently) and awaiting the feature presentation.

I took a lesson away from that unfortunate moviegoing experience.  Several lessons, in fact.  The first of which is that my husband and I are probably better off watching our movies on Netflix or Redbox from the comfort of our own perfume-free home.  The second is that there is a wide misconception that the refusal to adhere to the arbitrary request of a stranger is somehow rude, weird and/or obnoxious.  None of which are accurate, mind you.  As a paying moviegoer, I am under no obligation to relinquish my seat for the convenience of someone else.  Period.  That is not to say that I should not do so, if doing so doesn’t take away from my own {paid} experience.  By all means, I should, and in fact, I would.  But I am not under any obligation to oblige a latecomer if doing so would hamper my own experience.  Neither are you.  Especially when there are sufficient seats together in other—admittedly less desirable—parts of the theater. 

I won’t likely return to the theater on a holiday anytime soon; crowded places aren’t my thing.  But hopefully this little lesson will be helpful to both entitled and unassuming moviegoers everywhere: if theater seating is a make or break issue, timeliness matters.  Plan accordingly.

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Darcie Maranich

 

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