The movie theatre is the new sports stadium--by which, I mean that I have no idea how a regular middle-class family takes their group to the movies. I'm guessing that normal middle-class families long ago gave up going to professional sports stadiums.
My spouse and I went to see Dark Shadows yesterday. It's the rare movie ad where we look at each other and say, "That could be fun to see in the theatre." Yesterday, I was reminded of why we go so rarely.
We went to the bargain matinee. Now, I knew it wouldn't cost $3.00, like the bargain matinees of my youth.* Still, I was shocked to find that the bargain price is now $9.
And of course, we bought concessions--yes, that's our own stupid fault. I justified it by saying, "Well, we go to movies so rarely. Let's do the full treatment."
I bought the large size soda and popcorn--they came with free refills, so even though I didn't want but a few more handfuls of popcorn, I got the refill anyway.
I spent the whole night with a tummy ache. Again, my own stupid fault. I was so annoyed with how much we spent on concessions that I ate more than I had planned.
And I must say that I was annoyed with the movie too. It's one of those all-too-common movies where by the time you've seen the ads trying to entice you to the theatre, you've seen the best bits. I felt restless, and dare I admit it? Somewhat bored. At least my fellow movie-goers weren't as awful as they sometimes are. No cell phones, no people acting like they're in their own private living rooms.
Last night, we watched reruns of M*A*S*H. It seemed a fitting way to end Memorial Day. And contrasting that writing to the writing for Dark Shadows, I couldn't help but notice that the writing for M*A*S*H was SO much better. And free, broadcast to my non-cable TV.
Every so often, I have to learn this expensive lesson over again: sometimes, the best entertainment is free. Or at least, cheaper than the manufactured entertainments that our cultural institutions would like me to buy (movies, professional sports games, concerts, and the like). And serendipitous. My favorite recent memory is of a few weeks ago. My spouse and I went to the beach with no clear plan except to wander down the Broadwalk. We noticed that the organic brewery had finally opened. We tried an ounce of each of the 4 beers brewed on site. We shared a pint of the wheat beer, which was the freshest beer I've ever had. It had a non-bitter taste, light and bubbly, with a pleasantly grassy undertone. We drank it after walking two miles on a hot afternoon. It was the perfect refreshment.
And much cheaper than the movie refreshments we had yesterday.
*Does anyone but me remember the dollar movies? I used to say, "Everything comes to the dollar movies, if you wait long enough." I had a writer friend who heard me say that; he said, "I'm going to use that as the title of my first book." I said, "You can't. That's going to be the title of my first book." Neither of us used it, and now we can't, since they don't seem to exist anymore, at least not where I live.
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