Theater Etiquette

Friday night movie premieres are for tourists and interlopers who go because it’s a big event. True believers will always form ranks the Saturday morning after when the circus is at a minimum. Five dozen of my brethren and I waited for the AMC Theater to open so we could crowd into the 9:45 a.m. showing of Marvel’s The Avengers. A rainbow of t-shirts advertised an array of fandom from Black Panther to Firefly.

When the theater opened, I raced to a choice central location. An overweight man-child situated himself in the seat in front of me. He wore a sky blue shirt with a red and yellow Superman emblem. The lights dimmed and the audience retired their personal electronics, all except for the man in front of me. The previews played accompanied by chatter over upcoming blockbusters. Superman poked at his phone. The opening credits displayed. He continued to fiddle with his device. I tried to ignore it, but every time the audience awed in unison, I found myself distracted by the phone’s aura. Some part of me wanted to tell an employee of the theater. Another part of me knew the minimum wage high school dropouts that staffed the AMC didn’t care.

During the action sequence where Captain America first reveals himself to Loki, Superman stood up blocking the entire screen. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the phone’s glow as he waved it around. The bane of my movie experience staggered out of his aisle and through the swinging doors to the lobby. I followed.

I trailed him into the men’s room. We were alone. Superman took position at the second of four urinals. I stepped to the receptacle directly to his right.

“Hey buddy,” It felt unnatural to talk to a stranger while relieving myself.

Superman kept his gaze down over his belly.

“I said, hey buddy. I’m not just talking to my dork here.”

“I’m taking a piss, what the fuck do you want?”

“You’re that asshole playing on your phone.” At the best of times, I’m no more than a hundred and fifty pounds of unintimidating lazy meat. So my words didn’t feel like my own but rather channeled from the likes of Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito.

“So?”

“So?” I mocked. “What’s your problem?”

“Mind your own fucking business.”

“You know, that’s not going to work for me. I think you’ll need to turn off your phone.”

“Fuck you! What are you the fuckin’ movie police?” With his outburst, he lost concentration and a yellow arch of piss splashed at the toe of my Adidas. I finished, secured my cargo pants and positioned behind the Man of Steel.

Let it be known that I let him zip his pants before I drove the flat of my foot into the back of his knee. In my mind the maneuver would collapse him into the stainless steel valve of the urinal. I’d hit him and he’d go down. That is how it’s supposed to go, right? I didn’t have a plan after that. The kick only buckled the targeted leg. Superman steadied himself against the wall. He turned around, the “S” emblem stretched over his pouting man-boobs.

He heaved a right jab aiming for my jaw. Instead the punch landed on the side of my neck. In my entire adult life, I’d never been hit. It wasn’t like I remembered when I was a kid and my brother would sock me in the shoulder while shrieking “slug-bug.” This time it actually hurt. Superman attempted another jab. I saw it coming and reacted accordingly spinning out of the way like something Keanu did in the Matrix. His fist soared by.

Using the opportunity, I shot an uppercut to his stomach that rippled against the excess mass. Then Superman grabbed my shoulders attempting to toss me against the tiled bathroom wall. I braced myself and stood strong against his force. When he let up, I kicked at his forward leg. His Converse must have lacked traction because he slipped. Superman’s head collided with the base of urinal. When he hit his eyes focused on mine, flashing panic, and then his body fell limp.

The men’s room became eerily quiet. Leaning over the body, I put two fingers to Superman’s neck. All I could feel was my heart beat at the ends of my fingertips which made it hard to search for a pulse. I repositioned his skull from the porcelain fixture to the floor so his mass sprawled on one plane. A swath of blood remained on the urinal where he had impacted.

For what seemed like a long time I surveyed the body. Out of base survival instinct, I knew what had to happen. First, I removed his cell phone from his jeans pocket and dropped it into the nearest toilet. Then, pulling his legs, I dragged the body into the stall, leaving a smear of blood. Struggling, I maneuvered the weight onto my shoulder, and then heaved it forward so Superman rested in a sitting position on the toilet seat. Dark wet stains formed at the armpits of my Venture Brothers pullover. While in the stall I closed and locked the door. I escaped by crawling out from underneath the partition.

I washed my hands and splashed some cool water on my cheeks. Soggy paper towels were used to clean up the blood on the floor. The mark on the urinal remained as a badge of my first uncivilized act.

Returning to my seat in the theater, everyone was having a good time, no one noticed anything had changed. Soon I became fixed on the movie.

During the final showdown, when the Incredible Hulk was tossing Loki around Stark Tower, a figure cut into my field of vision. A darkened mass scooting amid the aisles to create a man shaped silhouette. He stopped directly in front of me and glared. Across his flabby chest, he bore a blue shirt with a red and yellow “S” emblem.