Seeing a movie in our small town's movie theater is like watching a scene that takes place in a movie theater in a movie that takes place in a 1950's movie.
Still following me? Here goes.
I'm accustomed to the very impersonal, anonymous experience of seeing movies in large, mega-seats theaters, where there are usually enough empty seats to afford space for jackets, diaper bags, what-have-you in the adjacent seats. You make your "nest," establish your perimeter, and hunker down in the relative security of "your" few seats.
All the better to enjoy your cinema sundae in peace and solitude, even though you're basically surrounded by 200+ complete strangers.
Not so here.
Last week was opening night for Ice Age 2, so naturally, it screened in the BIG 99-seat theater. Anticipating a sell out crowd, I arrived early to secure tickets for myself, my two daughters, and the youngest daughter of our town's Chief of Police (his daughter and mine have since become good friends after the found money incident).
Upon entering the brightly lit movie house, we found...
...an endless wheatfield of familiar faces surrounding us.
Waves o'plenty from friends and casual acquaintances alike.
My daughter's and her friend's name being called out from points unknown.
Casual chatter dominating the pre-darkened theater.
Inexpensive popcorn being noisely consumed, fizzy drinks slurped through elongated straws and large dill pickles emitting an odiferous aroma that filled the nearly packed 4-walls of small town movie house madness.
Smiling, waving, herding, and organizing my pride, we found our way to some seats, constructed our fortress and settled in.
A quick survey reveals non-jaded ticket holders with their gazes glued to the local advertising cards being flashed on and off on the screen. The people and businesses paying $250 a pop getting their monies worth, becoming instant celebrities as their faces and business names appear larger than life on the big screen.
A pair of strapping ranch-raised boys enter, produciing a gaggle of pre-pubescent lassies to perform the traditional "heads turning in unison as they talk, then giggle, then talk, then giggle" routine like a well rehearsed group of Rockettes.
To my left a group of pre-teens enjoying something resembling a "group date" whisper incessantly to each other. I overhear the dreaded phrase, "Don't tell her I told you," and just know there will be serious instant messaging events going into the wee morning hours.
I let C and her friend buy their own kiddie snack packs and let them sit together in the back of the theater, pretending to be older than they are, while PK and I sit down front.
The trailers started, the movie played, young parents laugh out loud with reserved guilt as the movie tickled their farm fresh funny bones. Older folks show no guilt at all, chortled with joy and overall just dug the ride.
The audience was listening and had become completely involved with the flickering animated story of an intelligent talking Mammoth and his friends.
When the credits started to roll and the lights came up. there was applause, there was immediate chatter about the movie and there was the inner peace of being transported to a far off land in a far off time by a far out story.