Ah the magic of cinema!
I'd got to the cinema early to pick up the pre-booked tickets and to hide just how much pick 'n' mix I'd be lugging in. After securing my own body weight in fizzy cola bottles I'd spent 10 minutes in a queue under the false impression that people were collecting their pre-booked tickets. Sadly no one thought it appropriate to inform those behind them that the machine was broken. After finding this out I turned to the queue and told them straight. Only for them to ignore me and try their luck at the same machine.
Peeved, I joined the normal queue and waited in line.
"I ordered some tickets online but none of your machines seem to be working"
"Yeah they haven't worked for ages, have you got the card you ordered them with?"
"Do you not think you should put a sign up?"
"The printer in the office isn't working either"
"It's just that people are queuing to collect their tickets because there is nothing to indicate the machines aren't working."
"We put a chair in front of the machines - that means they are not working."
"Ah a chair, of course. Is there one in front of the printer in the office too?"
"O. Kay. Here is my card."
"Where do you want to sit?"
"Erm those 2 seats there please."
"Those are luxury seats."
"What's the difference?"
"No, I mean what makes them "luxurious"?"
"They have slightly wider armrests."
"How much wider?."
"I don't know, a bit."
"You've really sold it to me. I'll pay the difference."
"Any drinks, snacks?"
"Two large Cokes and a salty popcorn please."
"Is Pepsi alright?"
"Is fake money alright?"
"It's an old joke, I'm sure Pepsi is fine."
And he shuffles off in his cap of despair leaving me to ponder the definition of the word luxury. But you can't choose standard seating now can you? It could ruin the film? A film that has taken years and millions of American dollars to make. It would be awful to have your elbow slipping off a skinny armrest during, say, a chase scene. You might look like a fool. Best to pay another £3.60 to avoid looking foolish. Besides, when you get to go to the cinema as seldom as I do, you can't have anything ruin the experience. I look around and take two straws, ripping open one of them and realising that they never have a bin for this particular piece of litter. I lay it down on the wet counter.
"There you are. Two luxury seats. Two Pepsi, one popcorn. That's £26.50."
"Can I pay that in instalments?"
"It's a joke."
"Enjoy your film."
"Enjoy your hat."
And despite the queues, despite the heavy closed door to Screen six that you can't open because you have your hands full, despite the criminal expense of junk food and the person sitting in front having some kind of afro tribute to Abraham Lincoln's hat, despite everyone's very best efforts to make it impossible - I do enjoy it. I enjoy the trailers and the Jack Daniels adverts. I enjoy the pointless bit where the screen gets a smidge wider before the film starts.
And I'm not alone.
I look around the cinema and smile. All of us have just spent a small fortune on fizzy drinks and the use of a chair, all of us are sitting here regretting not having a big wee. Yet we are all, somehow, enjoying ourselves. Losing ourselves. The ritual of switching off our mobile phones has become symbolic. Anonymous and silent we wait to be entertained, unplugged from the real world for a few blissful hours.
And later, when I get back to my car, I have temporarily forgotten about the queues and the expense, about the person kicking my chair and the man on my row with personal hygiene issues and the tiny bladder, I have tucked away the memory of the woman eating the world's loudest nachos and the fact that my popcorn was sweet and not salty.
All I can remember is the thrill and the twists. And laughter in the dark.
So it's with a smile on my face that I drive away from the cinema and can finally release two hours build-up of farts.
Ah - the magic of cinema!