Let me start by saying that in the grand scheme of things, my feelings about my experience tonight may come off petty and ridiculous considering that they occurred on the same day as the Aurora, Colorado “Dark Knight” slayings. Nothing I can talk in all my experiences can come close to what those families are feeling today… and I’m eternally thankful that I can only sympathize with those people in Colorado and do not possess the experience needed to fully empathize with their losses. But this being the internet and I having had such an annoying experience, I will throw my frustrations out there into the ether for a (very) few of you to read.
Ok, full disclosure: I hate going out to public places. No, I do not have a fear of these places. I have a deep seeded dread about having to deal with douchey, pretentious, self-centered, obnoxious, walking-dicks called people. Ugh. Usually, this dread is reserved for adolescents, but more and more adults are filling that role. And oh do they do it oh-so-well. With regards to movie theaters, my complaints are typical: talking during the movie, texting during the movie, endless crumpling of whatever bag is being used to hold food, crying babies, seat kickers, barefooted people that feel the need to put their feet up on the chair in front of them… you get the idea. So, I disclose my feelings as a personal admission that I may have been looking for trouble subconsciously, or was just trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. I often like to play armchair psychologist to my best case study (Dan Greco). Anyway, as has been customary as of late, my experience today started with people texting.
So, I’m not naive. I know we live in a world of cell phones and people love to be connected at all times. I get it. I’d feel lost without my cell phone when I’m out and about… or talking with people that aren’t quite keeping my attention. But anyway, there is a not-so-fine line between keeping yourself available for emergencies and choosing to engage in active conversations. I will get to the heart of this story. The Dark Knight Rises has a run-time of almost three hours. No joke, for over 2 hours I put up with this woman and her ultra-bright, I-don’t-believe-in-auto-dimming iPhone screen. I remember when stadium seating started becoming popular. It was great. You didn’t have to worry about blocked views anymore. Well, that was in a time before cell phones and texting were popular. Now stadium seating allows you to see much too much activity below you. This woman, who I’ll refer to simply as Annoying, was on her phone almost literally CONSTANTLY. No joke, she wouldn’t go more that 5 or 6 minutes without texting someone. Now, you may be thinking that i’m being a little dramatic. Perhaps I’m embellishing a bit. And to you I say, “F-off. You have no idea.” I had such a direct line of site with Annoying, that I now know her pass-code for her phone. 7878 in case you were wondering. I don’t have a photographic memory, but when I see the same numbers repeated over and over again, I can’t help but memorize them. Oh, did I mention we were 6 or 7 rows behind Annoying? Yeah, I had great seats for her lack of consideration for her fellow movie-goers. As I was saying, I dealt with this for over two hours accompanied by the random texter around the theater, but nothing that was overly obnoxious. Up until the two hour mark, I kept my cool and hoped against all odds that Annoying would just put away her phone or, at the very least, start texting a bit more considerately; holding her phone in her lap perhaps. Of course, this was just a pipe dream. As is customary with me, my inner rage continued to grow as I can just not cope with the idea that people were not brought up with any kind of consideration for other around them. (*Psychologist Dan jumps in here: I believe this is a case of too many super-hero cartoons as a child. Justice always prevailed and annoying characters always learned their lessons and had a good group laugh about how dumb they were acting.) Now at this point, I went against everything that I was taught to do as a kid. My subdued, shut-up-and-take it attitude shattered and my inner mind-Hulk took over. But to toot my own horn, even in this rage I managed to wait for a lull in the movie (a scenic shot) to release my furry upon Annoying. See… consideration; it’s something we should all have and practice. My temperature-raising, skyrocketing-blood-pressure-educing inner furry was released as this command: “Shut your phone.” Now, I was five or six rows back so I had to say it loud enough for Annoying to hear and know it was directed at her. That coupled with the clenching my teeth while saying it (purely instinct), my (self proclaimed) wonderfully tenor-esque voice, and the darkness of the theater all contributed to the most amazing thing: Annoying got the message and put away her phone… for the rest of the movie! A nice side effect, everyone else did too! Fantastic! Two hours of suffering paid off because I made a small change in the world. Sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the movie right? Wrong… oh so so so wrong.
Enter a man who I will call from hence forth refer to as Pretentious Douchebag (I choose this name as to make this post as child friendly as I can allow). Pretentious Douchebag was a quiet, fellow theater patron. He looked to be in his mid 20s. Short cropped hair that was a bit gelled and spikey. Dark rimmed glasses sat on his face; the kind you see on all the hipsters in any major city. Not overly slender, but lean. He had taken the seat two seats over to my right, respecting the rule of buffer seats between men. Truthfully, I didn’t even realize Pretentious Douchebag existed for most of the movie. That was until I had finished my bout with Annoying. As a reclined back to savor my victory against theater texting, I see in the corner of my eye Pretentious Douchebag leaning over towards me. Not going to lie here folks, I was totally ready to receive accolades from my fellow theater patrons. As such, I leaned over (smiling, I believe) ready for my “good job, dude!” Instead, get ready for this, what I got was a man staring at me holding a napkin in his hand and saying this to me, “Do you want a tissue for your vagina?*” (*Exact words)
As you may imagine, this wasn’t quite the response I was expecting, nor hoping for. Come to think of it, I would say this is one of the last phrases that I would probably want to hear seeing as how I don’t have a vagina and if I did, I would hope no one would see that I had a need for a tissue for said vagina. In response, I was able to muster a “Whaaaaaa??????” I then continued with, “Are you fucking serious?” The next 40 minutes or so are a little hazy. Imagine if you will, my inner rage level signified by a regular old glass thermometer to take temperatures with. When Pretentious Douchebag entered the fray, it was as if someone had decided to find out just how hot the exhaust flame of the Space Shuttle using my teeny, tiny thermometer. The red went up so far, so fast it busted through the top and shot across the room. I know that after my comment, my wife started asking me, no pleading with not to fight, though she had no idea what was going on. I gave it a shot for a second or two. I sat back, still aghast at what was said to me; utterly astounded. Instinct took over and forced me to stare to my right towards Pretentious Douchebag until he looked back at me. I asked again, “Are you fucking serious?” and then “Do you want to make something of it?” or some phrase along those lines; completely uncharacteristic of me for the record. He responded with “Let’s talk about this after the movie.” My response, “No… we won’t.” I have no real idea why I chose those words. I know I wasn’t thinking normally. I can only hope that he took it as me saying, “No. We won’t because I’m going to be beating the ever-loving shit out of you.” Begin the countdown to the credits. 40 minutes to go. Like I said before, this is a little hazy. What I do know was that I could not give my attention to the movie like I wanted to. I was lost. I had no idea what the characters were saying. All I could think of was how to beat this guy to pulp, should I hit first, should I give him an out, how am I 33 years old and about to get into a fight at the movies, and how this is why I hate going out. I was literally shaking for 30+ minutes. What I believe was fear and what I know was rage was swirling around me. Not to mention I had to pee 20 minutes after we sat down in the seats and I had since shared a large soda with my wife. Nevertheless, I was ready. So I watched whatever I could of the rest of the movie; no longer engrossed in Batman’s battle, waiting for my own… man, I felt young, but really really really annoyed.
End credits. Movie was over. Time to go, in any sense of the word. I immediately looked over to Pretentious Douchebag and he to me. “Listen, I’m sorry about what I said. I was being a real asshole,” he said. Rage subsiding a bit. I responded, “Why? I don’t get why you even said that? Wasn’t she annoying? Didn’t that light bother you too?” “I was trying to say you shouldn’t be shouting in the middle of a movie,” he claims. “Really? My half-second outburst bothered you more than that light in your face?” I asked completely baffled. “Yeah, there’s always people like that. Maybe they have kids and they’re talking to the babysitter.” “I have a kid and she’s with the babysitter now and I didn’t take out my phone once. She was texting for minutes at a time. Many minutes at a time,” I responded. “Yeah, maybe. But again, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” “Thank you.” And then he left. Out of my life forever.
My Doogie Howser ending: Maybe time and guidance is all it takes in this world. Maybe people just need time to see that they were wrong and need to make amends (Pretentious Douchebag). Maybe some people got lost along the way and just need to be guided back on the right path (Annoying). Maybe there is hope. If Pretentious Douchebag can see that he was behaving in a very disrespectful, totally uncalled for manner , perhaps there are more people out there that know right from wrong. If Annoying was able to see that strangers were annoyed and was able keep her phone closed for an extended amount of time and realized the world didn’t end, maybe there are other people out there that will realize their actions do affect people around them and they should be more considerate.
Who am I kidding? This is America. We don’t do Doogie Howser endings in real life. Here’s a real ending where I come from: Fuck you, Annoying and fuck you, Pretentious Douchebag. You are why I hate going outside.