At the MoviesBy:
December 19, 2001: I’m standing in line at our favorite theater for the midnight showing of LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring. People are smug, arrogant…rude even. I wonder how many of these people have read Tolkien. Probably most of them since the air is thick with pretentiousness. I don’t care. I can hold my own; I’ve been a Middle-earth fan for decades. Hmmm…does that thought make me pretentious?
A friend of mine finally arrives at the theater. I see him standing alone and wave him over to join us in line. I am told by the people behind me that no “cutting” in line is allowed. I point out that I’ll be saving him a seat when we get inside the theater anyway, so why not let him wait with our little group? “No.” The two orcs behind me stand firm. Whatever. I’ve been anticipating this movie since I read the books twenty years ago, and thanks to the asinine behavior of the people around me, I’m in a crabby mood, the two hour wait is unpleasant instead of exciting, and I catch myself wondering if it’s all worth missing three hours of sleep over.
Flash forward to November 21, 2008: Same theater, same time of day, different book, and, thankfully, completely different attitude.
We excitedly arrived before 10:00 pm to find the theater lobby completely devoid of life. My daughter and her three friends looked at me accusingly. Evidently my anticipation was greater than everyone else in town. Embarrassed, I gave the girls money to get coffee next door at Panera while I took a seat on a bench by the restrooms, the guy behind the popcorn counter smirking at me the whole time.
When they returned, a line had officially formed: a girl and guy from the university were thankfully first, and then…me. My girls sat around me; grins and high-pitched voices betrayed their caffeinated excitement while the line slowly grew.
For the next two hours we killed time. We played the dice game Zilch. We ate overpriced popcorn and candy. We giggled at cell phone-generated photos. We played Euchre. (Everyone in Indiana plays Euchre. You’re not allowed to live here unless you know the difference between a left and right bower.) And we traded Twilight stories with those around us; everyone we spoke to was there because of their love of the books. The university guy in front of us read the series because of his sisters, and was jazzed to be seeing the movie an hour ahead of his family back home in Texas. I convinced him that calling his sisters one hour into the movie to gloat over this fact was not a good idea.
The two women behind us wore Twilight Mom’s shirts. They sheepishly confessed their greater love for the boy wizard, but we forgave them this character flaw, all of us having been fans of HP as well. One of the girls actually got a re-occurring babysitting gig from one of the two moms she met that night.
We shared what we knew about the movie. We debated our favorite scenes from the books, what we were looking forward to seeing in future movies and we rambled on about the actors. And we discussed Edward…always Edward.
I quickly realized that we weren’t just killing time; we were…having fun. A feeling of fellowship was rampant; people were friendly and excited to be there. Everyone wanted the movie to be good; it was definitely a home team crowd, cheering everything right with the film while ignoring the bad.
I saw the movie at least 6 more times in the theater, but the best viewing experience by far was that first time in a packed theater full of excited, devoted, like-minded fans. Will the midnight showing of New Moon be the same magical experience? I hope so. If you happen to be in a theater in small-town Indiana on November 19th and see a lady wearing a Hydraulic Level 5 t-shirt, eating Milk Duds, sitting on the floor having a blast, stop by and say hi.
Often, when people around me ridicule the Twilight fandom, I think about my different experiences at the midnight showings of these two movies. I compare the fun-loving joy and camaraderie of the Twi-fans with the stick-up-their-butt arrogance of the LOTR crowd. I think about that guy from Texas, the Twilight Moms behind us, and our little group playing games, happily anticipating our squeals of delight, enjoying our time together on the messy carpeting of our local theater.
Honestly, which group would you rather be associated with?
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