I like to go to the movies in the morning. The tickets are cheaper. There are better seats. No one really cares if you wear slippers. I usually show up well-caffeinated.
It doesn’t matter what kind of movie theater you go to — the traditional sticky-floor cinemas of the proletariat or the more expensive theaters with big, plush seats that recline. Just go, and go at a civilized hour when the world is still quiet and groggy, and before the teenagers show up.
I like teenagers. They’re young and vibrating with energy and hope. But they’re also monsters.
Some of the fancy movie theaters offer brunch, but I just order popcorn. When I sobered up 8 years ago, I promised myself I could eat all the popcorn I wanted. And I do. Even at 10:30am. And if I’m hungry after the movie, then I’ll go to a diner and sit in a booth and order a tuna melt.
It is said that youth is wasted on the young, but it’s more true that retirement is wasted on the elderly. Life should be about cheap breakfasts, hobbies, and bingo night. Leisure is the only true labor of love. I, for one, do not think that life should be constant toil and then a nice, relaxing round of golf before oblivion. Our time is short and we should use that time puttering around gardens, or playing checkers, or sitting on porches. We should be first in line for delicious things, and never late for anything. I am committed to living the early-bird life.
When I go to the movies in the morning, I wear the standard issue uniform of the golden-ager: comfortable pants, a loose-fitting polo shirt, and a windbreaker. The colors should be, if possible, purely primary. I smile at the drowsy ticket-taker and give a “howdy do” to whoever makes eye contact with me.
The moviegoers I see in the morning are my tribe. A respectful lot. They’re unlikely to talk — or worse, text — during a movie. There should be an undercover police squad that busts people who text during movies. I think this would fix many of society’s problems.
Some of them are considerably older than me, with their snow-white hair and fanny packs stuffed with tissues and caramels.
A few have calculated that the only hours they can carve off for themselves are weekend mornings — the rest of their Saturdays and Sundays dedicated to birthday parties, home improvement projects, and unfinished weekday work.
I wouldn’t call myself a “morning person.” “Morning people” are almost always perky. They’re optimists. The “morning people” I know are at the gym by 6am, guzzling fruit and flaxseed smoothies by 7am, and done sending a novella’s worth of emails by 8am. On the blessed days of rest, you can bet “morning people” are terrorizing their families by cranking out sunrise waffles en masse
So while people are slowly shuffling into coffee shops, I am blissfully sleepwalking to a picture show. Have I been known to snooze during a screening? Yes. That is a perk of the lifestyle though.
I love the movies. Even the boring ones. I will, literally, go see anything. A gentle coming-of-age story set in 1990s Indiana? Yes. A big-budget superhero movie where the villain constantly laughs maniacally? Absolutely. A political thriller that features a hacker who types on a computer keyboard really intensely? I’ll buy the tickets.
I recently got up early and went to a screening of a movie titled Hurricane Heist, which is my favorite kind of movie because the entire plot is in the title.
Matinees are fine — especially during the workday when theaters are empty. I have, on more than one occasion, called in sick just so I could watch some action flick in the middle of the day.
Dinner and a movie is a great American tradition. I am not opposed to seeing a flick at the very late hour of 8pm. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing a popular movie amid a crowd of rowdy strangers. Horror movies are made even better by communal gasps and screams. Comedies, likewise, are improved by shared laughter.
I will oftentimes buy tickets weeks in advance for a premiere so I can be the first to see a highly anticipated movie, like the recent Star Wars chapter. In fact, I so wanted to be one of the first to see that movie, and tickets were so scarce, that I saw the movie at 2am the day it opened. When I left the movie theater, the sun was just about to rise. It was a bit discombobulating, actually. I prefer to be combobulated.
But going to the movies first thing in the morning is high on my list of self-soothing activities that A) get me out of the house and B) put me in a room where I can share an experience with other people but don’t have to interact with them.
It’s almost a cliche to write that movies are an escape. Hollywood came of age during dark days like the Depression and the Second World War, and fed an anxious populace a steady stream of song and dance, romantic closed-mouth kisses, and heroic cowboys wearing white hats. For a very small price, people could forget economic apocalypses and faraway carnage.
I like to think I have a healthy relationship with reality, though. I don’t know if I need to run away from it. When I go to a movie I have an excuse to turn off my phone for two hours and watch a story that can move me, or thrill me, or help me see the world in a slightly different way. I also enjoy explosions and dinosaurs and funny women being funny.
So, look, I’m going to a new movie tomorrow at 9:30am. I’ll be eating popcorn, but feel free to stuff your pockets with a sneaky breakfast taco or two. We don’t need to sit next to each other. And then, afterwards, we’ll have the whole day, and the rest of our lives.