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Movie Theater Memories

I have talked before about my first memory of going to the movies. I was a huge Star Trek fan as a kid and my parents took me to see Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan. It was one of the few things I remember doing with both my parents, and the only time we all went to the movies together. Thinking back, it may be the only time I went to the movies with my dad at all. This may be partially explained by the fact that he mocked me mercilessly because I cried when Spock died. Keep in mind I was all of 6 years old. A couple of years later my mom took me to a re-release of E.T. Remembering my dad's jokes at my expense, I did not shed a single tear. This caused my mother to brand me a cold, heartless little monster. Hey, not all movie theater experiences can be fun and light-hearted.

But most of them have been. Some just for the excitement of seeing a big hit in the theater. Waiting in lines that wrapped around the building to see Ghostbusters and The Karate Kid on opening weekend. Coming home from The Karate Kid and promptly injuring myself jumping off my bed trying to do the crane kick. The main theater in my town had two screens, and it's where I made a lot of memories and saw most of my movies. They would play music before the movie, and I picked up on the fact that right before they opened the curtain to start playing trailers they would play the song Take On Me by Aha. To this day when I hear that song I get a Pavlovian thrill.

That theater is where I had my very first date. I took a girl to see Turner and Hooch. It's also where I first touched a girl's holiest of holies, when I fingered the same girl during a showing of Hook. The old man sitting on the other side of her enjoyed watching that more than the movie. This is the theater where I uncomfortably watched Road House with my mom. I saw Pet Sematary here, and at one point when the black cat jumps out and screeches a girl in the row in front of me screamed and vaulted over the seats to end up in my lap. That was a highlight of that year. 

We also had  theater at the local mall that had more screens, but they weren't as big. So while I tried to see everything at the other theater, they couldn't show every movie like the mall did. That's how I ended up seeing The Garbage Pail Kids there with my best friend. Although to be honest we ended up not watching the movie. It was garbage and we were the only two in the theater, so we ended up just running around and throwing Skittles at each other the whole time.  This friend and another friend were with me when we were the only 3 present to see Star Trek Generations, and he was also with me when there was only one goth girl present for a screening of Interview With The Vampire.

If you're interested in the prurient sexual exploits of teenage me, I got to second base in the mall theater during Alien3. Once again we were alone in the theater and I got her shirt and bra all the way off, though we got caught by an usher. He just laughed and left, but for her the mood was broken. I tried to take her to see Bram Stoker's Dracula, but they wouldn't let us in because she wasn't 17 yet.  But my main memory of this theater has nothing to do with sex or even girls. It was the last day of school, and we got out early. Our junior high was only a few blocks from the mall so a group of about 5 of us walked over to see Batman. We were laughing and goofing around before the movie and some adult guy threatened to punch us out for being too noisy. This just resulted in us ridiculing him until the start of the movie. The movie was great, but being there with that particular group of friends, the ones I played D&D with, is what made it unforgettable to me.

Most of my good memories of my first marriage are also tied in to going to the movies. My future ex-wife had moved to Tulsa when we were just starting to gear up our relationship. Being someone who was brought up on movies, of course I did the romantic thing and went after her. We went to see The Mask at a theater then went back to her sister's apartment where she was staying and had sex on the kitchen floor. I brought her home, got her pregnant and married her in that order. Things were mostly not great, but we did have some fun. My best friend got embarrassed when she and I let an argument about philosophy get out of hand while waiting in line to see the Star Wars Special Edition re-release. She took turns waiting in line with me to get tickets to see The Phantom Menace and we got in opening night. That movie was the first time I ever witnessed applause at the beginning of a movie, something I've still only seen a few times.

One of the most embarrassing moments though, was when we went to see Starship Troopers. Neither of us paid attention to what the movie was rated and just assumed it was going to be another cheesy sci-fi action flick. We had a daughter who was 2 or 3 years old, and we took her with us. We were watching the movie and everything was fine until the battle on Klendathu. The bugs started swarming and my daughter ran up the aisle screaming "Help me, help me!" and streaming a trail of piss behind her. I felt like the worst parent in the world. We went to the lobby and I stayed with her while her mom watched the movie. I came back the next weekend and watched it by myself.  Theaters have always been more than just a place to watch movies for me. They have assumed the position that churches or organizations like the Masons have for other people. It's where I commune with people, and we all react to things together. It is very much a more laid back version of the feeling I get at rock concerts. That's why I get bummed when I see people talking about the demise of movie theaters, and I hope it never happens. Seeing a movie in your home, no matter how good your home theater setup is, will never be the same as seeing it in a theater with a crowd of people. So I will end by saying, keep theaters alive, go see a movie. 


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