emptytheater01.jpgThere’s something missing from today’s movie multiplexes other than quality films, sticky theater floors that don’t feel like the killing floor of a slaughterhouse and money in your wallet after you leave.

It’s hard to describe because frankly the last time it was there, we were all little kids. Going to movies used to be fun. Now it feels like waiting in line at the DMV. You stand in long lines to stand in even longer lines to stand in more, even loner lines and the whole time you’re miserable and hopeless because you know what’s waiting for you at the end of those lines isn’t worth the life minutes you wasted waiting to get to it and both moments end with you being snorted at by some heavyset woman who’s life dreams died the moment she dropped out of community college.

I haven’t been to a theater to see a movie in a long time. Even when I was just going by myself to see something I actually wanted to see, the thrill wasn’t as remotely high as it once was. It seems so uninviting, impersonal and different.

Maybe it’s because my happier days of theater going were when I was a kid, when I didn’t have to deal with the hassle of shelling out cash for movie tickets and junk food that my parents knew was just going to rot my underdeveloped brains and organs before I hit puberty.

Even though I was smaller, the theater didn’t seem as big and mall-like as they do now. I lived in a fairly big city as a kid and the theater I frequented had four screens. The lobby didn’t look like the taxiway of a major metropolitan airport. It was quite small and modest, which made it very inviting as if the building was saying, “Please, come in, enjoy yourself” instead of “I am so massive and huge and big and I will make you feel small and meaningless!” Nowadays, it’s like walking inside The Rock.

As you walked in the doors, the theaters back then felt like a giant hug that greeted you as if they were happy just to see you. It enticed you into the building. They had video games machines in the lobby with my personal favorites like “Metal Slug” and “NBA Jam,” not in a flashy arcade that made it look like a room where doctors test people for epilepsy.

It had one concession stand with a very cheery teenage girl working the counter who always gave you that extra smile when she handed you your nachos and jug of cola. They didn’t have a goddamn army of them lined up in a long trench run by people who weren’t smart enough to discover Clearsil and career counseling.

The movies had zero commercials. The movies realized the reason you paid extra money to see something in the theater was so you could avoid being bombarded with advertisements that guilt you into buying crap you’ll never need, so you can watch movies uncut and commercial free that guilt you into buying crap you’ll never need.

The theater liked you and accepted you for who you were. They didn’t try to flash themselves up or make themselves seem bigger than they really were. They didn’t need to because they just wanted you to enjoy yourself for who you were. That’s right. They didn’t hide their emotions or keep secrets about how they really felt about you for weeks until after you shelled out hundreds of dollars of your own money just to drive into town and see them and dragged you to some stupid bar with her ditzy, drunk friends to listen to some dumb cover band that thinks they can play music, even though they sound like the screams of a helpless baby climbing its way out of the jaws of an alligator.

Oh and Happy Valentine’s Day. Bitch.

Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, humorist, reporter and owner of a lonely heart living in Texas. He can be found on the web at www.dannygallagher.net.


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