Me Versus the Cinema

The movie theater. An ideal place to experience the latest big-budget action spectacular with eardrum-shattering sound and visuals to make you gasp. An ideal place unless you are visually impaired that is. For people like me, a movie theater is a study in frustration. They are dimly lit, densely packed rooms with unevenly spaced stairs that seem perfectly designed to cause me to stumble into an unsuspecting stranger’s lap, spilling popcorn and nacho cheese everywhere. Not an ideal situation for me or that poor stranger. So let’s talk about it.

Let me begin by saying that I love movies. From my first movie theater memory watching Star Wars: A New Hope, with my parents in 1977 to now, I adore them. Unfortunately, I can no longer go to the theater and enjoy them like I used to. The actual experience of watching the movie is still wonderful as I can still see well enough to enjoy them and the popcorn, well, you can’t get that perfect popcorn at home. But, because of all the issues that I have with the theater itself, I find that I would much rather just catch the movie once it hits the Redbox or a streaming service. 

Starting at the top from the moment I walk in the door. The first thing I notice is the lighting, oh man, that terrible lighting. The lights are intentionally dim, turned down to give that “ambiance” that people associate with a theater. Even the carpets, walls and decor are darker in color which absorb light. Walking down the halls to get to the actual theater is more dimly lit, dark walls and carpets. In order to navigate them safely, I literally trail my hand along the wall or hold the elbow of my movie date. This is not ideal nor particularly dignified but it is what it is. 

Upon entering the theater itself, I am presented with the aforementioned challenges of dim lighting and dark carpets and walls and then add in the stairs. Oh boy. I never know what to expect with the stairs. I imagine that I am not the only person that counts stairs in order to navigate them more safely. For example, I might count four regular size stairs before getting to a wide stair which would mark the entrance to a row. But, most theaters don’t seem to follow a pattern. Maybe you start by climbing ten normal stairs before coming to the wide stair and then, out of nowhere, two or six or whatever random number of stairs come before the next wide one. I find myself desperately clutching the railing and/or the waistband of my wife’s pants to avoid faceplanting on the way to my seat. Once we reach our row, then we have to make our way to our assigned seat which if I’m being honest, I have never seen the actual numbers that mark the seats. Not a single time. I’m just trusting that my rear end lands in the right seat once I’m told to turn around and sit. 

Now, let’s order some food since we might be at one of those awesome theaters that has a full menu of food options. Yeah right, as if I can see the order card to fill out without turning on the flashlight on my phone. And since I don’t want to be escorted out of the theater by an angry manager, I just whisper what I want to whomever I am with and have them do it for me. Just another way that I have to be dependent on someone else which is lame but hey, it is what it is, right?

Finally, we get to the movie and the whole reason why I came in for first place. Oh no, nature calls and now I have to figure out how to handle that with all the above challenges. Navigate the row, find my way safely and slowly down the stairs, find the exit, navigate the hallway and find the restroom only to encounter, you guessed it, a dimly lit room. Can we just turn on some lights already? Inevitably, the worst lit bathroom I have ever found is at movie theaters. Why? Why do we need ambiance in the restroom? I have, quite often, walked into one and just stood there, trying to let my eyes adjust, in order to find my way to stall or urinal. So very not ideal. Then it’s time wash my hands, feel the walls to find the soap dispenser because heaven forbid it be easy to spot in semi-darkness and then to find the hand dryers or towels. Ugh. 

Now, I make my way back to the hallway and do it all over again to get back to my seat. Only, I can’t find my seat because I did not remember to count the exact number of stairs on my way down so I just stand there, hoping my wife will come to get me and help me back to my seat. Again, not ideal and now my dignity is completely disintegrated.

Next time, I think I will just stay home and watch that Avengers movie on my big screen TV and eat popcorn in my recliner.