The kid with the baseball cap was sitting just a few rows ahead of me, but that didn’t matter. I could have spotted his game a mile away.

The way he leaned in close every time he offered the girl his popcorn. The way he laughed whenever she did and of course, the classic yawn-and-stretch which deposited his arm over the back of her chair.

Well executed, stud.

If it had been a love story up there on the big screen, the scheming devil might have feigned deep emotion during the touching parts, to convince the object of his desire that his was a sensitive soul. Not TOO sensitive, mind you. You don’t want the lass to think you’re an overly emotional crybaby.

It’s a delicate science, courting old-school, but the young stud in question had two plus hours to work it. And it wasn’t just time he had, but a near perfect setting. The shared arm rest, the beautiful darkness, the kid-eating clown up on the screen whose unholy antics caused the young lady to wiggle ever closer to our hero in the baseball cap.

Ah, the movie theater. I go, at most, once a year, but every time I do, I’m struck by how little things have changed since the days when I had to engage in high-level acts of espionage just to sneak my underage butt into “Porky’s.”

Oh, sure. You’ve got the annoyance of cellphones these days and a variety of other modern nuisances – the fact that you have to watch commercials after shelling out ten bucks for a ticket makes me want to punch a clown right in the delicates. But by and large, the movie-going experience is still quite the same as it was when “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was a new release.

The misbehaving hooligans still flock to the back rows where they fling popcorn, chatter nonstop and occasionally make disgusting and hilarious noises with their armpits.

That severe librarian-looking woman is still there going “Shhhh!” at everybody, even during the coming attractions and closing credits. If you meet this woman in the restroom halfway through the movie, she will “shhh!” you while you pee.

You’ve got the guy who protests overpriced movie snacks by bringing his own eats to the theater – mainly leftover Halloween candy and deviled eggs that stink like death.

Over in a dark corner, you’ll find a couple who couldn’t afford a hotel room so they bought a couple tickets to “IT” and then spent two and a half hours groping each with a bucket of popcorn crushed to dust between them. Something tells me these people aren’t married to one another.

Somewhere in the theater is the guy who laughs uproariously at every other word muttered on screen. When the hero of the movie informs his weeping wife that he has but three weeks to live, the theater hyena laughs uproariously and stomps the sticky floor with glee. There’s something wrong with that dude.

Nine times out of 10, you’ll be seated next to a guy with an obvious prostate problem – he has to walk over you every five minutes to go to the bathroom, where he’ll be promptly shushed by the severe librarian lady. What the heck is she doing in the men’s bathroom, anyway?

There’s usually an old guy who came to the theater alone and who fell asleep long before the opening credits. I’ve always suspected that this guy has a wife at home who’s so terrible, he’d rather go see a movie about a demonic, kid-chomping clown who lives in a sewer than spend another night with her. Poor fellow. Let’s just let him sleep.

And then there’s our young Romeo, whose only ambition in life is to secure the affection of the dazzling Juliet sitting next to him. God bless this kid. He’d sit through a four-hour foreign movie about love in the Uzbekistan cello circuit, subtitles and all, just for the chance to land the perfectly placed yawn-stretch arm maneuver across her delicate shoulders.

I love that kid. Used to be that kid. And that, as far as I can see, is the main difference between the movie theater of the “Porky’s” age and the movie theater now. Kids still dominate the audience and they still do all those annoying things that kids are known for. It’s just that I’m not one of them anymore, a fact that makes me want to weep for that lost age.

I’m a very sensitive soul, you know.

But not TOO sensitive.

Yawn! Stretch!

Nailed it.


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