Monday, July 20, 2009

Movie Talkers Are Everywhere

When Alan and I go to the movies, it often proves to be a very stressful event. We both cannot stand for movie talking, but he feels much more passionately against it than I do. When the movie talking starts behind us, in front of us, or to the side of us (and these days, sometimes it seems like it comes from all directions, a sort of movie talking surround sound) he will start fidgeting in his seat. The agitation steams off of him, and I can tell that if I don't intervene soon he is going to say something, or God forbid shush them, and then there will be a scene. Because heaven knows you cannot ask someone to please be quiet (no matter how nicely you might ask) without some passive agressive, louder form of retaliation being thrown at you (or sometimes thrown into your hair. I think I once had bits of popcorn tossed in mine.)

He will start turning and craning in his seat to make eye contact with the offender and the more he moves, the stiller I sit because I don't want to call attention to us. As I must sit still, I move only minimal parts, so I will throw my arm out and grab Alan's hand and then squeeze it. He's learned that this is what he should do if the movie talking becomes unbearable, and when my hands have been wrung and squeezed until the blood has gone from them, I wonder if there might be some other way. But then I think if I didn't offer him my hand, he would say something all too bold like, "Can you please keep it down? We're watching a movie." And then he would get shot. And in my haste to calm everyone down, I, too, might lose an eye. I can't even imagine explaining how that happened to my mom, so I suck it up and I let him squeeze my hand.

For some reason, I always forget the incredible amount of stress I feel whenever we go to the movies. It must not be that bad if I continue to forget and agree to go with him. Or maybe it's because I know I have to forget because I know there is no one else who would want to see all these movies with me.

Right before Alan went in for surgery in early June, we went to the movies to catch the latest Terminator. We should have known it was going to be movie-talkers galore, but he was going to have his belly opened up soon to have his tumor removed, so we might have had bigger things on our minds. Away we went and within the first quarter of the movie, I thought Alan might twist a finger off. There was a couple behind us, and the man seemed to be translating each and every word to his companion. Alan turned to give them the death stare. They must not have noticed or else chose to ignore it. He quietly shushed them, but they did not shush. I might have been able to watch the movie through it all, except I couldn't ignore Alan who was so obviously not able to concentrate, who was fidgeting with the intent of burning a hole in his seat. And how would we be able to discuss our favorite scenes afterwards if he wasn't watching? So we got up, excused ourselves to the aisle and looked in the packed theater for 2 seats together. We spotted a pair, made our way up the stairs, far away from the loud translating couple, and excused ourselves into the middle of a new row. We had just settled in when the people to our left started movie talking. Alan's seething began all over, and I handed him my hand to squeeze. I could almost be sure he was going to ask if we could move again, so before he did, I turned and said, "We're not moving again. And you're also not allowed to go to the movies anymore."

After that, we stopped going to the movies, not because I had forbade him, but because he started his stay at the hospital, which has been continuing on for nearly 6 weeks now. Now that he's not with me nearly as much to be angered over rude movie talkers, I've found that I've become more vigilant about picking these people out. It's as though I must be angry enough for the both of us.

This past Saturday, I drove up to the San Mateo library to see Dave Eggers talk about his new book, Zeitoun. It was hot that day, and I was late, so I was rushing. I parked outside, ran inside and burst through the double doors into the room. Frantically, I searched for an empty seat, any would do. But to my surprise, there were tons of seats to choose from, the room was barely filled. I had expected it to be not unlike Michael Jackson's memorial service in L.A. In my literary world, Dave Eggers is like the Brad Pitt of the movie making world. But then again, that's just me. I've met him a few times (met is an odd verb to use here in that usually when I meet someone, they will remember later on, or, if they don't, I will say something to the effect of "I think we've met before at such and such place" and the other person will take a moment but will usually remember and agree or make a slight revision to the story. But I don't do that when I re-meet Dave Eggers because that would be sort of creepy to assume he would remember me, so I just keep re-meeting him each time which is fine by me.)

Before sitting down, I bought a copy of Zeitoun and then sat in the third row, not too far, not to close. I peeked inside but didn't start reading. When I'm really excited about a book, I like to take my time, doing things the right away. I didn't want to steal short glimpses into the book, but I wanted to take it home with me, pour myself a glass of water and sit, just me and the book, so we could give each other our full attention. It was so new and perfect and ...

"Oh, is that his new one? Can I see it?" The lady next to me asked.

I didn't want to give it to her. I wanted to explain that I hadn't even really opened it and taken a look for myself yet, so that wouldn't be right to have her putting her paws all over it, now would it? But then she snatched it out of my hands, so I didn't get a chance to tuck it away. And that was the first sign of trouble. Her friend came over and sat in between us. Shortly after, Dave appeared and he began talking about his new book. He ceases to stop producing great works, and I almost wanted to run out of the room to start reading it, but at the same time I didn't want to miss what he was saying. "It's a non-fiction work, just out from McSweeney's press as of last week, about a Syrian-American man named Abdulrahman Zeitoun who stuck around with his American wife and children in his adopted hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina only to be abruptly made to disappear by the U.S. government." (Read more about the book here.)

I don't know what I expect when I re-meet him, but seeing as how this Saturday was the third time I'd met him, I suppose I was hoping for something different. Like maybe he would say, "Hey! Glad you could make it! I met you at 826LA at that painting party right? Yeah, well, I've been reading your blog, and I think I could really use your help on this next project. You like pizza? I know a good place..." But that didn't happen. Instead, I sat next to the two mature ladies, the only two people in the whole audience to talk to each other, while he was talking on stage. And I know they weren't talking quietly either, because people kept turning around to give them the death stare I knew so well. I wanted to offer these people my hands, but they were sitting too far away.

Dave Eggers is going to associate me with these talkers and then I will never be asked to get a slice of pizza.
I tried shrinking away, just melting into my seat, when all of a sudden, the lady next to me stood up to ask a question. It was about the non-profit he had started, the writing labs found across the country. She wanted to know if it could be a model for tutoring kids on math. He said it could be, that that wasn't a bad idea and some other stuff, but I was too busy trying to disappear to listen. When he finished, he was about to take another a question, but the lady wasn't done and she wasn't sitting back down.

"Point me in the right direction," she ordered. She ordered. It was very odd and uncomfortable and then I became upset because here I was on a nice sunny Saturday, sitting next to the equivalent of author-talk movie talkers, ruining my chances of Dave seeing me in a favorable light, one in which we could be friends and he could cure cancer.

(He's the one without the blazer).

32 comments:

Violet Dear said...

Movie talkers are kind of like concert goers who insist on standing the whole time when everyone else is sitting and trying to give their feet a rest. I want to call them inconsiderate but it seems too polite a term.....

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K. said...

Uggh...how annoying! Those two sound like torture to sit next to! Hope they didn't defile your book too much...
BTW, Congrats on Blog of Note...you have a great writing style...well deserved...

Jessie said...

people are so rude! sounds like so many people need a lesson on manners. so annoying!!

Katherine said...

I hate when people talk through movies at theaters. However, my husband and I do love to talk about movies while we watch them. But we always wait until we can rent them and talk in the quiet of our home, without disturbing anyone.

lady elle said...

can't wait to get my hands on the new book! I'll just add it to the growing list of must-reads... (enjoyed the post (:)

Rich said...

My wife and I love movies, but hate the talkers. We stopped going to the movies and used the money for a giant tv, full surround, and now watch movies at home where only our daughter talks....through the whole thing....grrrr. :)

(Non) Fictionizer said...

I wish I was so wealthy that I could afford to sit in the dark and talk while showing no interest in what I've paid for. Why not stay at home, turn off the lights and talk for free?

If I were that wealthy, I would hire the whole auditorium and just surround Movie Talkers with louder Movie Talkers. You can guarantee that the original culprits would then have the gall to ask the others to shut up.

It's bewildering that some people need instructing on how to be Quiet Like Horses during a movie. (Sorry!)

Heliotrollop said...

Great post. Movie talkers are bad enough, but people who talk at a live talk/presentation should be sent to SuperMax prison until they learn some manners. In my opinion.

Jana said...

why cant people just behave?? you are sooo brave to be squeezed and still return to the movies. I actually have a bit of an honesty issue, so I totally tell people to chill when they are annoying me. I think maybe its a mom thing. I already have my own shush.

Sobrina Tung said...

Jana, I think we should be movie going friends. Your own shush! haha

Heliotrollop, I agree. SuperMax prison sounds sort of like a wanna be Costco grocery store, but without the samples and without the food court. That would be punishment enough for sure.

Non Fictionizer, hahah, I never thought about it that way. I wish I were that wealthy too. I must be so very not wealthy because I cling to every word.

Rich, good idea. I should start saving too...

Lady elle, it's good so far, I'll let you know how the rest of it is.

VioletDear, yes, WHO are these people??

Deanna said...

Oh man. You are Eric and I am Alan in the movie talker scenario! It will totally ruin a movie for me and I will be miserable the entire time! I hate inconsiderate people like that. BTW - Dave Eggers is a wonderful author! I'm excited to read his latest.

NQLucas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NQLucas said...

your post had my neurotic nature in hyperdrive. I was sitting there thinking, hmm, am I a movie talker? I was chatty a few weeks ago when i was on a date that had me more nervous than usual. maybe theaters should get bouncers or spotlights that can point out the offenders and then a Wizard of Oz voice can boom, Will you please shut up? ... just a thought. Awesome blog by the way. Loved the writing.

flying_low17 said...

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des said...

Great post, you had me laughing! I found it on the blogs of note, looking forward to reading more.
:-)

Katie said...

HATE movie talkers (and people who laugh super loud when there's nothing funny)!!! Just went to see My Sister's Keeper, which is just about the saddest movie ever, and someone was laughing hysterically at everything.

It's unfortunate you can't get people to shut up by asking nicely either, tends to make things worse. Like when you're in a lecture, and you have some giggly girls being you, and you look behind and give them "a look," they just turn the volume up. *sigh* frustrating. lol

Never heard of this author, I'll have to check him out! :)

Katie said...

do you have a favorite by him?

Amanda said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that has a miserable experience when there are distractions in the movie theater, and I love hearing of new books! Going to book readings and poetry readings are some of my favorite things to do. I'll check him out now! What would be the one book you recomend by him for a first time reader of his?

mysterg said...

I go to the movies during the day now. The kids are in school. the great unwashed & unemployed can't afford it, and the pensioners are too busy sucking on boiled sweets to bother me.

R2K said...

: )

2busy said...

Unfortunately, you can't change other people. There will always be movie talkers. I think if it is such a stress point, netflix or redbox would be a better, less stressful option. I'm just sayin...

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Wyll said...

I've been reading through your blog for a little while tonight, and I just wanted to say it's beautiful. You seem like such a sweet, fun person--and very strong. I'll keep you and Alan in my thoughts.

Sobrina Tung said...

So I'd recommend his first one which was a memoir, mostly about him raising his little brother after his parents both die from cancer. It's called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I also loved What is The What, a semi-fictionalized non-fiction story (if I can call it that) about one of the Lost Boys from Sudan. Both are beautiful, but in different ways.

Wyll, thanks for visiting :)

Modern Aphrodite said...

I can definitely understand Alan's hatred of movie talkers. My boyfriend is also greatly annoyed by them, and unfortunately for the both of us my mother is one. It's quite frustrating. I'll explain and try the hand-hold trick next time we go to the movies.

ThankYou said...

I appreciate your recommendation of Dave Eggers. I found my local library holds 4 of his books and I will be by there in the morn to nab at least one of them. I have a feeling he will hold my interest quite well.
As for the movie talkers, I've found it quite easy, where I live, to go to the movies and have the whole theater practically to your self. So, thankfully, I don't normally have that issue. I find that our thoughts about what people do are what actually upset us, not what people do. Just a little of The Work I found. You may like it, especially with what you are going through right now...and no, it's non cultish...lol. www.thework.org It's by a woman named Byron Katie.
Have a good one!

Rainysoul said...

The movie talkers are also taking it to a whole new level! Texting on their phones during a movie! Great blog, I'll be back! :)

綜廉 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J.Me. said...

Oh my goodness. Dan and I go through similar things in the theater. Except, he isn't afraid to say anything...And then I'm scared I'm going to get shot. What gets me are the text-messagers. Is it really SO important that you can't wait to text back after an hour and a half?! Like, really...could that little blue light be any MORE distracting?! I'm so sorry about your author-talk-talkers experience...But I'm definitely going to give Dave Eggers a try to see if I enjoy his writing as much as you! In response to VioletDear...I went to a concert awhile back and people were doing that. I got up and told them. The girl gave me a dirty look, but I got like 8 thank-you's. Somebody's gotta do it...I was scared they were going to try to fight me! I'm a lover, not a fighter!!

Riva said...

I'm just curious as to how you did the "tabs" on your layout...I think they're awesome. Did you have to monkey with your HTML????

Makolyte said...

What's more annoying than strangers movie-talking?
Your companion movie-talking!

I went with my roommate to American Gangsters. I had never went to a movie with him before this. He was talking during the previews (that's allowed). And then just kept commenting on every scene in a normal voice (not trying to quiet himself). I am too shy to tell someone to shut up so it continued throughout the entire movie. Holy crap, at one point he started throwing popcorn at people because they were looking at their cellphones (hypocrispy!).

After that i've learned to not go to movies with him. However I did go see the new James Bond with him. This time i anticipated his talking and used it to entertain myself. We were sitting in the middle of the theater and he never shut up the entire time. The girls in front of us turned around and asked him to please be quiet, but he continued*. I was silently laughing my head off because of this. I swear, watching him antagonize so many people was more entertaining than the movie!

If i found entertainment from this then perhaps this is a lesson to all of us to take movies less seriously, and just enjoy the entire experience! Afterall, we've all been to movies with movie-talkers who's comments on the movie actually provided value because they were funny :)

*Afterwards me and his buddy asked him about the girls in front of us. He claimed he didn't hear them. Well now they have a story themselves about the man who wouldn't shut up :)

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