Bearing a laundry-sized bucket of popcorn, my husband and I seek Theater Number Six. There we hope to watch a movie without expletives, explosions and/or exhibitionism. It’s even rumored to have a plot.
“For once, we might have enough popcorn — even for you.” He opens the door. But the early showing has not ended. “Must be running late.”
We wander back to the megaplex’s lobby, where the glass décor exudes all the friendly warmth of the ice palace in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Maybe we shouldn’t have stopped on our way home from Chicago.
I sigh. “Theaters aren’t what they used to be.”
“Not exactly the Crump,” Steve agrees.
He often saw movies like Swiss Family Robinson or 101 Dalmations at the venerable Crump Theater in Columbus, Indiana, our childhood movie mecca.
Admission for five kids cost $1.75, so movies were a rare treat for my family. However, when the Crump’s dusty velvet curtains parted, the big screen took me to a magic universe where a giant Hayley Mills played both twins in The Parent Trap. Or I cowered against a worn, springy seat as the roaring Red Sea split before Charlton Heston’s staff.
In later years, we teens appreciated the Crump’s semi-private balcony. …
“This movie starts at 4:40.” Steve rushes us to Number Six.
I brighten. “Maybe we won’t have to endure Movie Trivia!”
In the dim quiet, I study our distinctive popcorn-eating techniques. Steve selects 10 kernels, tasting them one by one, as if eating hors d’oeuvres.
I come from a survival tradition that resembles filling a beanbag chair.
The screen lights up: What was the name of Liz Taylor’s first husband’s dog? Sigh. No reprieve from Movie Trivia.
A Top 40 hit rumbles through the speakers.
I try to comprehend the lyrics. “Is he singing about orange gerbils in Congress?”
Bored out of our bunions, we cave to Movie Trivia. In which movie did John Wayne play a horse? In Star Wars V, how many hairs stuck out of Yoda’s ears? Such monumental issues consume more time than we realize. The popcorn is history, and trivia questions begin to make sense.
At this alarming state of affairs, my husband glares at his watch. “Forty-five minutes late!” He thunders out the door.
Steve returns and asks, “Where are we?”
Does he think life is one big trivia question? “Movie theater. In Merrillville, Indiana.”
“Merrillville—in the Central time zone.”
“We came an hour early.”
An even more dismal thought occurs. Steve and I sat in an empty theater an hour and thought of nothing better to do than count Yoda’s ear hairs.
Have we changed that much since our Crump balcony days?