I remember being about 12 and walking the mile from our apartment to the three-screen movie theater in the town I grew up in to see Sleepless in Seattle. I was with my brother and my best friend, and the three of us each sat with a seat between us.
Three boys occupying five seats, aspiring alpha-males with hairless armpits who did not want anyone to get confused about their sexuality.
I remember going to the same movie theater three years later, on my first date with a Girl Who Did Not Go To Our School (said with capital letters by boys everywhere, to denote the idea that with this one, you actually had a chance). The girl and I went to see Barbara Streisand’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. After trying and failing at the move where you stretch out your arm and place it on the back of her seat while trying to avoid dropping an elbow professional wrestling style on her head, I settled for the move where you put your hand on your knee, palm-up, and scoot your knee closer to her knee until she grabs your hand.
She got the hint, and I went home that night with my favorite Lucky Brand sweatshirt smelling of girl. That girl smell is intoxicating, and I didn’t wash that shirt for a few weeks—well after it had stopped smelling like girl, or even clean boy.
I remember being 20 and watching a movie called Slackers in a different town and a different theater. When you’re 20 and not in college your entertainment options are extremely limited, so my cousin and I would go to bad movies and make fun of them, doing our own imitation of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Slackers carried this concept to the extreme, and we stood up assuming the movie was over despite the fact that it had a full 20 minutes left.
We ended up mocking from the aisle.
I remember being around the same age and going to see Frailty, a horror movie, with my mom. Ours was a bond that would get weaker for the next decade, but our relationship had been good when I was a kid and was one that had been partially built on a common love of horror movies.
Going to see Frailty was the last thing she and I ever did together, just the two of us.
I remember taking my son Dylan to see The Dark Knight when he was barely three. We went during a weekday matinee late in the movie’s run to ensure we had the theater mostly to ourselves. Questionable parenting? Maybe. But our house is steeped in Batman mythology, and I felt that for him to understand me, he needed to see this movie. When Heath Ledger’s Joker tells Harvey Dent that Batman and Commissioner Gordon are schemers trying to manipulate the world around them, Dylan loudly said, “We are ‘chemers’ too, Daddy!”
I remember going to see Into the Woods over this holiday break with my wife and three kids. Combined, tickets alone cost us $65. When you add in the candy and sodas we snuck in via my wife’s gigantic mom purse and the beer I purchased at the theater to better tolerate a movie that included a singing Johnny Depp, the total ended up being around $90.
I remember being a movie kid, and I’m a little sad that my kids are getting priced out of those experiences. With ticket prices on the march toward $20, they may never remember the moment when the girl puts her head on your shoulder in the dark, or develop the ability to make excuses to your fellow hairless alpha-males about why a tear actually isn’t a tear during the end of Cool Runnings, when those guys cross the finish line, carrying their sled.