August 14, 2009
As much as I love going to the movies I always have a problem with the concession stand. Yeah, I know, I don’t have to buy popcorn and a drink, but what would a movie be without it? It would just be two hours of high-budget blockbuster entertainment, or perhaps even some hilarious, edgy independent story–all on a gigantic screen in a dark room where, for some unknown reason, a guy who’s seven feet tall always has to sit in the seat directly in front of me even if we’re the only two people in the theater. I can’t avoid the concession stand, but, first of all, if I order a small beverage they hand me a half-gallon cup. And of course I’m not smart enough to just drink part of it. I’m an idiot with no impulse control so by the time the previews have finished all that’s left in my cup is ice cubes and, as those melt, I’ll drink the water too. I always tell myself not to do this and end up doing it anyway. I once spent the last fifteen minutes of a horror film in complete agony because my bladder was about to explode but I couldn’t tear myself away from the film. Not that it was scary. Actually I stayed hoping that something scary would happen in the last fifteen minutes–to set it apart from the previous eighty minutes. The scariest thing about the movie was how much I paid for the ticket, but that’s another story.
Every time I go to the concession stand it doesn’t matter what I order. They always have some special deal they’d like to offer me that’s supposedly just a little bit better than what I’m getting. I’ll get a small drink and a small popcorn and they’ll say, "You know, for just two dollars more you could get a medium popcorn and this special cup with free drink refills during the movie." Okay, I’m not gonna go to the bathroom in the middle of the movie, so what are the chances I’d take advantage of an offer for free refills? Besides, that "special cup" is usually a five gallon bucket. I know they want me to think, hey, I’ve already spent ten bucks just getting in the door and I’m about to hand over another twenty, so what’s a couple of dollars more? Well, I’m not a complete idiot–just a partial one. I’ll stick to the thirty bucks I’ve spent to see a movie that, in two months, I’ll be able to watch in the comfort of my own home, thank you very much. And no, I don’t want a six dollar box of about ten button-sized mints, and I’m not going to mortgage my house just for some nachos. And the last time I went to the movies they had a sign up that said, "Try our new pizza!" Now I like pizza and a movie when I’m at home, but in the theater it just seems like a really bad idea. Dropping scalding hot tomato sauce on myself at home is one thing, but in the complete darkness where I’m liable to jump up and dump my half gallon soft drink all over some seven-foot tall guy it loses some of its appeal. But I couldn’t help thinking, why stop at pizza? Why not install tables on the backs of the seats and serve whole meals in the theater? They could even have exciting promotional tie-ins. They could serve roast mutton and Yorkshire pudding during the latest Jane Austen adaptation, or serve chicken nuggets and fruit juice during kids’ movies. Cheeseburgers and fries could accompany action flicks, light salads would go with romantic comedies, pasta and cannoli would be served during mafia movies. And then there’s the Silence of the Lambs special: liver with fava beans and a nice chianti.