Saturday, October 08, 2005

The C-Word

I'm usually pretty easy-going, but there's one thing that never fails to make me angry: people who talk in movie theaters.

A few years ago, I was watching some movie with a friend of mine. I don't remember what it was called, but it starred Hugh Grant as some sort of self-centered cad, so that might narrow it down a little. It wasn't much of a movie, so it's not like I felt I needed to hear every word of dialog, but there were these two girls sitting directly behind us, and one of them just wouldn't stop talking.

Every time Hugh Grant said something callous or did something that showed how arrogant he was, she'd tell her friend, "Oh my God! Did you see that? I can't believe it!" or "Oh my God! I can't believe he said that!" or "Oh my God! What a loser!"

This went on non-stop for about an hour before I decided to ask her to stop talking. I don't know why I let her prattle on for so long in the first place -- maybe I hoped she would eventually stop talking on her own. But she didn't, so I had to turn around and whisper to her to be quiet.

She didn't stop talking, though. As a matter of fact, she was indignant that I even asked her to. She told me she'd talk if she wanted, and if I didn't like it, I could get up and sit somewhere else. I thought about it. I thought about getting up and sitting right next to her, so I could politely nudge her each time she opened her mouth.

But I didn't. Instead, I just told her once again to stop talking. Then she said to me, "You stop talking, old man." I could see what was going to happen: Every time I said something to her, she would say something back to me. Not only would she not stop talking, but by engaging me in conversation, she was forcing me to keep talking as well, which was something I didn't want to do.

It looked a losing situation for me, so I tried a different approach: I called her a name. I don't often sink to that level, but she'd already set the precedent by calling me an old man. The name I called her was a lot more accurate than the one she called me, but it was also a lot less polite. I won't repeat the word here, but I'll give you a hint: It begins with "c" and ends with "unt," and it is neither "count" nor "catamount." And in case you need another clue, it also rhymes with "runt." It's not a word I use very often, but I was angry, and I had no other recourse. So I whispered to her, "Just be quiet, you stupid [runt]!"

That stopped her for about half a second, but then she told her friend, "Oh my God! Did you hear that? I can't believe he said that! Oh my God! I can't believe it! Did you hear him say that?" And then she continued to talk throughout the rest of the movie.

So the moral of this story is, if you expect other people to be courteous and considerate, you're going to be disappointed. The other moral is, unless you want to be called a stupid [runt], don't talk during the movie, even if it's just some idiotic Hugh Grant movie. It's inconsiderate and it's rude and there's really no excuse for it.

But a lot of people seem to think this sort of behavior is perfectly acceptable. One time I was at another move, and as soon as it began, some guy right in front of us started hooting. Yes, hooting, as if he were some sort of owl. I don't remember which movie it was, but it wasn't the kind of movie during which people would be expected to hoot. So I called him a fuckhead. Once again, this is not the level of behavior I would normally stoop to, but we all have limits beyond which we don't like to be pushed. And I didn't say it to his face -- since I was sitting behind him -- I said it to the back of his head. But he heard me and he was quiet for the rest of the movie.

Maybe I overreact sometimes, and perhaps my expectation of complete and absolute silence from the audience is a bit unwarranted, but I never said I was perfect. At least I know how to exercise restraint, though -- not only do I not talk during movies, but most of the time, I don't even bother telling other people to be quiet. For example, a few weeks ago, I saw the movie "The Aristocrats" and this guy in back of me just couldn't stop laughing. At first, I was thinking of turning around and giving him one of those disapproving "You're being too noisy" looks, but I decided to let it pass. It was a comedy after all, and some people can't help laughing out loud when they hear something funny. I don't laugh out loud a lot -- not at movies, at least. It makes it too hard to hear the dialog. I think the last time I laughed out loud in a movie theater was sometime in the early '90s. The movie was Peter Greenaway's "The Falls." A lot of people didn't even think it was funny, but I thought it was hilarious.

I don't like it when people make a lot of noise when they eat in movie theaters either, or when they use the back of the seat in front of them as a foot rest, but I won't bore you with all that.