Over at Ellen's Commuterrant
(it's great--you should check it out), she tells the story of a particularly bad
seatmate on the T. This inspired me to tell my own "worst seatmate" story from a few years back (before I started blogging). In my case, however, it wasn't on the T, it was at the movies. The Showcase Cinemas Woburn, to be precise.
The movie: The Pianist
, with Adrien Brody. The theater: incredibly crowded. Much Oscar buzz surrounded the film at the time (and indeed Brody and director Roman Polanski went on to win a couple of weeks later). I really prefer a little shoulder space at the movies (Jim and I, surrounded by an empty seat on either side), but the movie was popular and the relatively small auditorium held a sell-out crowd. But at first I thought we'd lucked out--no one came to sit at the far end of our row, next to me.
Right as the movie was beginning (naturally) a couple of people who I'd estimate were in their 70s (I'm not being ageist--this becomes important to the story) took those empty seats, without a single "Excuse me" to get down the crowded row. Things were quiet for awhile.
Then: the feast. Apparently these people had brought not just the theater-forbidden "outside snacks" (oh, be honest--who hasn't slipped a moderately priced bag of M&Ms into the movies once in awhile?), but a smorgasbord. A three-course meal in paper bags. And a hot one, at that. The aroma of what they'd brought--pastrami sandwiches? turkey with all the trimmings? lasagna? I'm still not sure--wafted over the seats in our immediate area. Throughout the entire movie. (I'm surprised they didn't have a tablecloth.)
Then--the comments started. They weren't exactly constant, like the commentary on a DVD, but frequent and strange. Perhaps these people hadn't actually been to a theater in years, preferring instead to watch movies in their home, with the handy rewind/replay button? Perhaps they didn't realize how loud their voices were? Perhaps they'd never been to a MOVIE before? Whenever anything of import occurred on screen, one of them--between bites--would say, "Oh! Look at that!" or "Uh, oh!" or "Watch out!"
The worst comments came when Nazis invade the home of Adrien Brody's family and start doing--well, horrible, Nazi-like things. At this point, my female seatmate starts saying, "Oh! That's terrible! Oh! Can you believe it? Oh, my!! Who could do such a thing?" Um, I don't know--maybe, say, NAZIS? I wanted to turn to her and say, "Excuse me, but you are clearly old enough to have lived through the World War II era--did you just skip the whole 'Nazis bad' section of the newsreels? They're NAZIS for God's sake! OF COURSE THEY DID HORRENDOUS THINGS! Did you think The Pianist
was about a down-on-his-luck honky-tonk musician? Did you think it was a re-release of the Holly Hunter movie?" (That's The Piano
, for those of you who missed it--and it, too, is really good.)
Naturally, being the polite person I am, I didn't say those things, but I did occasionally say, "Sshhh!" which quelled the comments for a few minutes at a time. But then they'd start again...
And did I mention the elbow in my sides throughout most of the movie? Again, personal space not high on these people's list of etiquette "Do's." Though I didn't mention it verbally, in a sort of passive-aggressive move--I'd periodically shove back. Just enough to reclaim the area below my ribcage. For a few minutes. I sat sunk in my seat in misery, unable to change seats because of the packed theater. (At least the movie was excellent.)
When the lights came up in the theater, Mr. and Mrs. Chatty Eater didn't make eye contact as they slunk out of their seats, diligently trying to hide the remains of their banquet before an usher noticed the leftover bits, used utensils, and paper bags.
To this day, I can only imagine that they're still mulling over how "really bad" those darn Nazis were.