Tumbleweed Smith
Tumbleweed Smith

We went to see the movie ROCKETMAN the other day. Matinee. Didn’t know what the crowd would be like, although we didn’t buy tickets before getting to the theater. The movie had been out a couple of weeks. At the box office, there was a seating chart and we chose to sit in the middle about three rows down from the last row. We usually sit on the back row because otherwise the people sitting behind us keep bumping the backs of our seats.

We were in a huge multi-screen movie complex in Midland. When we arrived in the darkened theater there were only two other people there. They were sitting close to the aisle a dozen rows down from us. Then two other people came in and sat at the end of our row near the aisle. All the empty seats in this huge theater and here was someone on our row.

Then came the fifth and last person to make up the entire audience of seven. He sat directly behind us just about the time the movie was starting. He had apparently bought every item the concession stand had for sale and began unwrapping all of his purchases. The sound of crinkling paper carried straight to our ears. So did the sound of his grabbing handfuls of popcorn from a cardboard tub. He made chewing noises. Then he fell asleep and started snoring. I whistled real loud and woke him up. When he became fully awake he resumed his unwrapping, grabbing and chomping. In spite of all that, we enjoyed the movie. We had gone to Las Vegas to see Elton John and loved doing it.

We have experienced small numbers of people at movie theaters before. When our young son was in high school he worked at our local movie theater. Several times around sundown he would call us from the theater and invite us down, saying they wouldn’t show the movie unless 10 people were in the audience and only 8 people were there. We saw lots of movies for free, but he always made us buy popcorn.

Getting back to people behind us kicking the backs of our seats: once we were in New York City and bought tickets to see CATS. A woman with her small child was sitting behind us. All during the musical the child kept kicking the back of the seat where my wife was sitting. It wasn’t a gentle bump. It was like the child reared back and took direct aim at kicking the seat. My wife Susan jerked at each kick. At intermission Susan said something to the woman about her child kicking the seat. She didn’t seem to care. Her attitude was “that’s your problem.” We had spent a lot of money getting to New York, paid outrageous prices for the tickets and we couldn’t really enjoy what was happening on stage because of this child whose mother apparently would let him get away with murder. That is not the ideal way to see a musical on Broadway.

That’s when we started sitting on the back rows of movie theaters. We haven’t been big fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music since then.