Empty Movie Theater

Something like this only happens once every two or three lifetimes. It’s the kind of moment that should be reserved for people who find the cure to some horrible disease or prevent an entire African village from starving. People who have so much karma in their spirit accounts, someone in Congress is trying to think of a way to tax them for it.

Alas, it happened to my brother and me. Frankly, we didn’t do anything remotely worthy enough to deserve it. We’re not bad people. We’re just not humanitarian gods. It’s not our fault. It’s hard to wipe out hunger when you have to roll pennies together to eat at Wendy’s just so you can feed yourself.

We got an entire movie theater to ourselves.

This has never happened to me or anyone I know. Then again, everyone I know is a tool so that either means God smiles on people who aren’t the biggest tools or there is no God and we’re all on our own. So if you don’t think I’m a nice guy, then God doesn’t exist. It’s as simple as that.

We were stuck in our parent’s house on the Easter weekend with nothing to do and Paul, my brother, wanted to share the sheer joy of Will Ferrell’s latest movie, Semi-Pro, with me. We had to drive a little out of way to find a theater that wasn’t playing it so far ahead in the day, we could buy, kill, defrost and roast a whole pig and still have enough time to sit down before the trailers rolled.

We got there early, so we picked our favorites seats: high up and right in the middle. It’s the perfect view in any movie theater. Your neck requires absolutely no bending up or down in order to look at the screen and your eyes can take everything in without having to scan back and forth in order to keep every scene in context. I’m sure in 30 years, it will prevent me from having any serious neck or eye problems, but the popcorn and silo sized colas will turn the rest of me into a large lump of flesh who has to shift three layers of fat away just so doctors can feel for a pulse.

The lights went down and the commercials started rolling and we were still the only people in the entire theater. We had the whole joint to ourselves. We were like Will Smith in “I Am Legend.” We could go where we wanted, say what we wanted and do what we want and the only company we had were the echoes of our voices and our shadows on the walls.

I immediately put my feet up on the back of the seats in front of me like the rebel that I am. Paul took it to a whole other extreme. He broke through every conceivable barrier that stands between men and their movie theaters that will earn my respect for years to come. He took his shoes off and plopped them down on the floor, not even bothering to place them together like he just got home from a hard 12 hour shift at the steel mill. Then he raised three pairs of arm rests on the seats next to him, stretched his legs across their cushy goodness and lounged across them like a fat Roman emperor watching gladiators battle to their death for his enjoyment for the entire movie. The manager didn’t walk out of his office/closet to tell us to sit up. The pimply teens who cleaned the theater didn’t call for their bosses. The guy in the projection booth probably didn’t even know he was there. I must have been the theater’s biggest loser of the week sitting in a theater all by my lonesome watching a third-rate Will Ferrell movie on the day Christ died of my sins.

I couldn’t bring myself to do the same. Paul knows an opportunity when he sees one. I’ve always admired people who live life that way. I spend every waking minute worrying about the consequences of my actions. Every cheeseburger I eat is sure to give me a heart attack. Every cigar I enjoy is sure to give me mouth cancer. Every girl I meet is sure to break my heart, wreck my car or leaving me buried in a ditch under 50 pounds of concrete and a plastic tarp.

I admire people who have learned how to turn off their own personal alarms and just enjoy the things life has to offer. It’s just too bad they all like crap like Semi-Pro.


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