Here's the thing about normal people: they go to movies, and nothing happens to them.
Well, okay, I mean, something happens to them. Presumably they see the movie. And probably there are some general arguments about the sharing of popcorn and candy, some spilling of some GIANT FUCKING VATS OF SODA (seriously, who needs a cup large enough to fit their own head into, IT BOGGLES THE MIND), and some teenage make-out sessions. I'm not saying that normal people go to movies and time stands still.
I'm just saying that for other people--people who are not me--they're rarely ordeals of increasingly ridiculous embarrassment.
Let's take the Lord of the Rings movies, just for example. They're easy to make my point with, since I saw every one of them and did not escape a single one without thinking How is this my life??
(To be fair, now that I think about it, sometimes normal people go to movies and things happen to them. But I think it's only when they have the misfortune to end up in a theatre with me.)
LOTR the First (Or, I Did Not Know My Brother Could Make That Sound)
Right, so, when the first LOTR came out in 2001, I was but a young, bright-eyed thing at the tender age of twelve. My brother (henceforth known as Brother Tall, because he is 6'5 and looms over the rest of the family) was 10. My baby brother (Brother Small, for the sake of clarity) was, uh, two, and we were on vacation in Florida.
Here are some things two years olds like to do while on vacation in Florida:
-Swim (for a given definition of the word swim, that definition being: "get carried around the pool by doting parents and/or older siblings until said doting parents and/or siblings' arms fall off")
-Sing "Elmo's World" repeatedly and off-key at the top of their lungs until their totally normal and well-adjusted sisters are forced to take the toy that plays that fucking song over and over and over and throw it in the ocean
-Run around the beach cackling madly while everyone else, in trying to catch them, manages to get sand in unmentionable areas, and…
For obvious reasons, the "sleeping" option is the most preferable. LOTR the First happened to us solely because Small fell asleep, and my father turned to me and Tall with a crazed light in his eyes and said "Quick! While he can't stop us! Let's leave your mother and go!"
Then it was the only thing playing at the theatre. What're you gonna do?
And, look, I could tell you a whole story about how we got our popcorn and my father argued about the butter and my brother wanted Sour Patch Kids but I wanted Snowcaps and the seats we wanted were taken and even at 10 my brother preferred an aisle seat and blah blah blah, but I actually don't remember. (No, really--I mean, I assume all that stuff happened because it happens at every movie we go to, but there is no way to be sure.)
Instead, I'm going to skip to the pertinent details: Tall fell asleep. In the theatre. During LOTR the First.
In a cruel twist of fate, he woke up to this:
And, predictably, responded like this:
I threw my Snowcaps in the air and showered us with chocolate, my father jerked out of his own nap and, once he'd confirmed that no one was actually dying, proceeded to laugh himself sick, and the rest of the theatre promptly decided they hated us.
Needless to say, neither my father nor my brother felt any call to see LOTR the Second in theaters. But I did! Which brings us to…
LOTR the Second (Or, Romance This is Not)
The second LOTR movie came out in 2002, several weeks after my young but nonetheless opportunistic self managed to ensnare an eligible bachelor. I was thirteen, and, in retrospect, said eligible bachelor was a gigantic tool and looked like a reject from the prepubescent version of The Carpenters, but at the time I was very besotted.
In fact, I was so besotted that my parents' insanely awkward rule--the one about how I could not go out on solo dates before I was in high school--was not enough to stop me from seeing him! I was young, yes, but I was determined. In a move that still makes me feel like an asshole when I consider it, I roped several of my friends into coming to see LOTR the Second with us, under the thin guise of it being a totally platonic trip. This was a lie, which they soon discovered, because….
…well, okay, before I tell you that story, there are two relevant details you need to know. One is that, while Carpenters Reject was not my first boyfriend, he was the first one with whom I'd stayed longer than a week and a half. Prior to him, my mother referred to the guys I arbitrarily appointed as my boyfriends as "goldfish," because the life our courtship was always about the same as the life of one. (To be entirely fair, I think there are some people who can keep goldfish alive for longer than a week and a half. I'm still not one of them, despite serious effort. I think I technically qualify as a fish serial killer at this point, and have stopped buying them for their own safety. But I digress.)
THE POINT BEING, when I entered the theatre to see LOTR 2, I had never been kissed. This will become important shortly.
The second thing is, it's been brought to my attention that some people have never been introduced to a candy called Swedish Fish. This is what they look like:
Okay, so, we're in the movie, we're watching LOTR the Second, Carpenters Reject pulls the deeply classy I'm-yawning-oh-no-I'm-putting-my-arm-around-you move, thirteen year old me is too inexperienced to find this wholly and utterly appalling, all is good. And then Carpenters Reject leans in across the armrest and, in the then-pinnacle of my brief romantic life, kisses me.
It was…kind of awkward and bad, actually, but I was thrilled anyway, completely thrilled, thinking glorious ridiculous thoughts about our wedding (I WAS THIRTEEN, GUYS, MY PARENTS WERE RIGHT NOT TO LET ME OUT ON SOLO DATES), when I felt something hit the side of my face. At first I thought I was imagining things in my bliss, but then the projectiles picked up both frequency and force, and I pulled away from Carpenters Reject to find the source of the attack.
My friends were throwing Swedish Fish at us. One of them got stuck in my hair. Carpenters Reject was so mortified that he did not kiss me again for several weeks; I was so mortified that I almost left the theatre.
SO WENT MY FIRST KISS.
LOTR the Third (Or, This Is The Movie That Never Ends, Yes It Goes On and On My Friends)
Okay, LOTR the Third, my family's in Florida again, it's Christmas, and we're Jews. Christmas for Jews is pretty much the most boring day of the year--nothing is open, nothing is on television, and everyone you know is busy with their families. So we did what we always do, and decided to go to a movie. My mom and Small went off to some kid's flick, I can't remember what now, and my father took me and Tall to LOTR the Third, with every intention of napping through it.
Problem: the only movie theatre we could find open was EASILY THE WEIRDEST THEATRE I'VE EVER BEEN IN IT. It was basically…it was like a cabaret theatre, in that there were tables and chairs instead of movie seats, but there was a movie screen where, by all rights, a stage should have been. The following conversation ensued.
My father: Do you…serve food here?
Usher: Nope, just popcorn.
My father: Is there…some other purpose for this room?
Usher: Nope, just movies.
My father: Then...why…
Usher: Look, man, I don't know, but it's Christmas, please just take what you can get.
This was a serious blow to my father, since even he cannot fall asleep in a straight-backed chair at a table. To add to the oddness of this situation, the usher--who had clearly seen LOTR the Third at least 6 times, based on the way he was audibly reciting the lines along with the film--was the only person in the theatre with us. It should also be noted that my father hates fantasy movies, has not been to a single one since I got old enough to drive and could thus provide transportation for any other family member who wished to go to one, and had never seen LOTR the Second.
Suffice to say he did not enjoy the film very much. Tall (who had seen LOTR the Second, in the safety of our own home where he could not be caught offguard by orcs again) and I endured his muttering for the first hour and a half, and then he declared that he would find SOMEONE who wanted to work on Christmas, took his Blackberry, and left us there.
When he came back an hour later, the movie was still playing. This vexed him. While sadly his exact words have been forgetting over the years, I believe he said something along the lines of "This movie isn't fucking over yet??"
"Have some respect," said the usher.
"Dad, oh my god, you're embarrassing me," said I.*
"Maybe it would be better if you went back outside," said Tall.
He didn't go back outside. He stayed, muttering that it could not possibly be that much longer. Unfortunately, he was not aware that LOTR the Third has a 201 minute runtime; for those keeping track at home, that means that my father actually had another 51 minutes left in a movie that he'd missed the prequel and the middle of. His agitation increased.
Then the movie ended three times.
NO, REALLY. I know you guys remember this--LOTR the Third has three endings, the screen kept fading to black and coming up again. This was kind of bizarre for the most invested of us; for my father, it was like torture.
To be brief: that movie, for me, came to a close when my father stood up from his seat, stared at the screen in disbelief as the third ending came up on screen, and declared, "I THOUGHT HELL WOULD BE WARMER THAN THIS."
And people wonder why I'm so fond of Netflix.
*At 14, I had not yet reached the state of nirvana in which I now reside, wherein my father has exceeded his embarrassing-me quota to such a degree that he'll never be able to again. Please note I say this with utmost fondness and pride; the man has a gift.