Along the way I lost my appetite for movies. I think it was somewhere between the price and the length of them that I wandered. Perhaps it’s also because I’ve lost weight in my attention span and bladder size, so now series are more enjoyable.
There are also other people at the cinema. The armrest hogs, the chair-back kickers, the cell phone checkers and blatant, mid-scene call takers. Also the gum chewers and vocal commenters and applauders. It’s like being on an airplane, but with better quality sound and nicer loos.
As a kid of about eleven, Tamara Lester’s mom took us to see Gremlins. I was so terrified that we had to leave. I still feel bad that everybody missed the end. I can’t remember what was so scary, but that was the day I discovered ugly crying.
There are also two scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that have stayed with me since I was ten. The one where they eat monkey brains, and another where they walk through a room of spiders. Is it still a spoiler twenty years later? If so, sorry, but you don’t want to see that movie anyway, those scenes will change you forever.
I also remember going to The Bioscope with my late Granny Annie. That’s what she called it, or ‘The Pictures’. She brought white bread sandwiches in wax paper, and half way through (did she time it?) we’d crumple our way through them. There’s no quiet way of opening wax paper and boiled sweets.
My friend, Suzanne, has different memories of the flicks. Once on a date, a guy did The Popcorn Trick. That’s when you stick your erect penis through the bottom of the box, then when she reached for some extra buttered, she found… well I don’t have to spell it out for you.
Although a word of warning, if you have paper cuts or laceration on your junk, the salt stings, and you will end up with what they call Popcorn Trick Scars. Why you would have paper cuts or lacerations on your penis (doing the filing naked?) is none of my business and who am I to judge?
Movies are the perfect place for first dates. During that early awkward phase you can hang out together in the dark, with all your clothes on, and not have to make conversation. Also you can tell a lot about a person by their movie behaviour. Choice of movie is a personality marker, as is who pays, and how they take their popcorn (not enough salt is a deal breaker). You can also discover their cell phone etiquette, plus you get to see if they have cuts or lacerations on their penis without having to have sex with them. Bonus. (PS: Penis lacerations – also a deal breaker.)
So after a few years giving the movies a miss, the other night I went to the Galileo Open Air Cinema in Cape Town on a date. They screen classics under the stars, in magnificent outdoor locations, with seats and blankies and gourmet food stalls.
During the previews this title came up: ‘From the moment I laid eyes on you, I knew you were the one I’ve been waiting for all my life.’ And then on the next title: ‘Khadeeja Hendricks will you marry me and make me the happiest man alive?’
Phew, it would have been very awkward if my name had come up. Has anyone ever said no to a big, public proposal before? She said yes, the crowd went wild, there were tears (not me, the guy I was with) (who by the way, could do to learn the popcorn trick), and then the movie started, so they had to quickly sit down. It was helluva romantic.
I wanted to tell my date that he should never do that to me, but it seemed presumptuous. All I could think was if someone proposed to me before a movie and for argument’s sake, say I said yes, would we still have to stay and watch Justin Timberlake shooting and running for the next ninety minutes? Surely there’s stuff to talk about, champagne to drink, family and friends to phone, selfies to take? How do you sit quietly and focus on the plot after that?
The rest of the movie was fascinating, with the stoned Dutch tourists in front of us and the couple having an argument off to the left (the proposal may have triggered it). Maybe movies aren’t so bad after all, especially open air ones. As long as they don’t have Steven Segal in them. So, let’s go back to the bioscope. You watch the screen, I’ll watch the people.