Whenever a movie comes out that I’m really looking forward to see, I used to like to head over to the theatre the night before to watch the first showing at midnight. But I’m beginning to realize that I hate everything about this. I hate having to compete with everyone else, waiting in line for hours, buying a ticket, making sure I find a good seat, taking turns with whoever I’m there with getting up to going to the bathroom, buying snacks, all while I’m sitting in this crowded theatre for an hour before the commercials even start, watching stupid commercials for another hour before the previews even start, watching some ridiculous previews for movies that I have no intention of ever seeing, (I always say never, but there are always exceptions to watching bad movies, like if I’m on a long flight and, after trying not to look at the screen, I find myself watching regardless of whatever else I may feel like or not feel like doing,) having random people come up to my row, pointing to that pile of coats next to me and saying, “Is anyone sitting there?” and I have to try to act polite and say, “Yeah, sorry, my friend is in the bathroom or getting snacks or stretching his legs because he’s been sitting in this seat for the better part of a day and he’s worried about developing a deep vein thrombosis or he’s making a phone call and didn’t want to be rude or he had second thoughts about our friendship and only told me he was going to the bathroom but he really snuck off and won’t be returning any of my calls again in the future, in which case, you would be welcome to the seat, but I’d hate to just assume the worst, so if you come back maybe fifteen minutes after the movie starts, and he’s still not here, then you can have it, but that wouldn’t really make much sense, because this is his coat, so even if he did want to ditch me, to ditch our friendship, to ditch everything we’ve been through, you’d think he’d at least take his coat with him, so, yeah, I’m sorry, the seat’s taken,” and I have to act all apologetic for having the nerve to occupy such a desirable seat, and I look up at the people asking, hoping that they aren’t rolling their eyes at me in contempt, but it’s too dark in the theatre, so I can only make out a general outline of their faces, not the specific facial expressions that they may or may not be taunting me with, but like any dark space, where you can only kind of make something out, but not really, the mind has a way of filling in the blanks, and for some reason, whenever I tell people that the seat’s taken, I’m automatically looking up at potential faces of disgust, anger, just barely held back rage, but who knows if the people are really that pissed off or not? And then it turns out that the joke is usually on me anyway because, even though I got there super early, even though I waited there and sat through all of that nonsense, right before the ambient lights go dark for the movie, the last member of the group of people in front of me arrives, better late than never, just in the nick of time, without a second to lose, and his friends move the pile of coats they were using to save his seat, and it’s right in front of mine (no wonder I thought my seat was so perfect; it was a mirage; it wasn’t real; there is no spoon) and the guy happens to be eight feet tall and his head is right in the bottom right corner of my view of the screen, not enough to completely obscure my line of sight, but just enough that I now have to stretch my head awkwardly to the side so I can see everything, and I have to hold it like that for the entire movie, and I’m not even fortunate enough to be able to lean into my friend next to me, which, no doubt, is still a little awkward, but not nearly as awkward as what I have to do now, which is to lean really close to the complete stranger next to me, the dude who ordered a small soda cup of nacho cheese sauce, and he’s just holding it, and you can’t see if he has any chips, (he must right?) because what else would he be doing with that stuff, and I want to focus on the movie, but I also want to see if this guy is going to do something with the cheese, like maybe he’ll just dip his fingers in there every now and then and take a lick, but I never catch him and it’s driving me nuts, so I only see like half the movie, and every time I look to the cheese, the audience erupts in a huge cheer or a laugh, and I look up at the screen but I totally missed it, and it might look like something cool had happened, but it’s currently no longer cool enough to elicit such a loud response, in which case I just have to assume that I missed something, or saw something partially potentially cool but totally out of context. And then the movie ends and it takes me forever to push my way out of the theatre, and I always wind up eating way too much popcorn, so my lips hurt, my tongue hurts, I have those stupid little pieces of popcorn shell stuck way up in between the spaces between my back molars and the gums they are attached to, and I’ll just say to myself, Rob, listen, you’re not going to be able to get them out without floss, so just ignore them and wait until you get home, but while my head is convinced of this plan’s logic, my tongue never really gets the memo, and proceeds to play with the kernels and to try to maneuver and twist its way back there, and I always accidentally wind up biting my tongue, and every time I think the piece is about to be lodged free, loose enough to where I can stick my finger in there and pull it out, it always backfires, and I’ll pick at it with my fingernail, but when I go to inspect the area with my tongue, it’s always in the same exact spot, or maybe even pushed a little further in, and I’ll think, OK, did I pick at the wrong tooth, because teeth feel much different to the tongue than they do to the fingers, and I’ll count from the back tooth with my tongue, one, two, it’s the third one in, and I’ll do the same with my fingers, one, two, three, nothing, so I’ll just put it out of my head and go home to floss, but my friend wants to go get coffee or something even though it’s super late, and I always say yes, because I don’t want to give my friend any reason to doubt our friendship, the kind of doubt that will start out small, but it will linger, until the next time we go out to see a movie, the next thing I know I’m sitting next to an empty seat and, look at that, he did take his coat this time, maybe that’s it, maybe I’m ditched, maybe that other person does come back to see if the seat’s open fifteen minutes later and I have to give it up, and then I won’t be able to enjoy the movie because, even though half an hour has passed, even though an hour has passed, I’ll keep thinking that, my friend’s going to come back, and what’s he going to say when he sees that I’ve given up his seat?