Down in front

By Daniel Dunkle | Nov 29, 2012

This always happens.

Wesley and I get to the movie theater early, pick out our seats and settle in to see “Life of Pi” in 3-D.

When we arrive, no one is sitting anywhere near us. Then, just as the previews are wrapping up, in comes this family of 12. I swear, they just keep coming and coming, like clowns from a tiny car.

There are two matriarchal women and about 10 children.

I try to will them into their seats with my mind. “Please sit somewhere else, please sit somewhere else, please sit somewhere else!”

They pick the row directly in front of us.

And people can't just come in and sit down. They have to fuss with their coats. Kids have to be moved around so the right one is sitting in the right place.

Part of the group won't fit in the row in front of us, so they dispatch an away team of one adult woman and four children to our row. For convenience sake, they practically sit in our laps, and the woman in our row is the one with all the food.

Apparently, to kill two birds with one stone, they decided to make this both a chance to watch a movie and eat a seven-course meal.

So the woman in our row is digging around and organizing the trays of food. Each one has popcorn and candy in a specially-designed rattle-wrapper, and a big drink with a loud squeaky, slurpy straw. She starts leaning over us to pass plates of food to the filthy little hands of the children in front of me. Are you serious?

I don't know if you've seen a really good 3-D movie, but part of the experience is outside the screen. Stuff is coming out of the picture and floating in your face. The effect is somewhat ruined when someone is flapping around in your peripheral vision, feeding the 5,000.

I don't know where she keeps all this food. She just keeps coming back and reaching to give another child another tray, like a mama bird taking care of a nest full of chirping hatchlings.

Finally that phase of the operation ends and I settle in, figuring that would be it.

Now all of the children are moving, wiggling, chomping, chewing, blowing bubbles with their straws, trying to open their wrappers. Crinkle-crinkle-crinkle.

I can feel the blood in my head. It's pulsating and in a minute I'm going to have some kind of episode, what doctors call an “event.” Maybe like Bill Bixby, I'm going to turn into the Incredible Hulk.


Someone has their phone out. Any messages? Any texts?


Why can't eating a giant meal and watching a movie be two separate events? Why does each child need three kinds of food?

I want to get up and scream. “Come off it people! Can't you just sit still for two hours? Seriously!”

But I feel inhibited. I wouldn't want to appear rude.

It's not like this is “Shrek.” We're talking about “Life of Pi,” the story of a shipwrecked boy from India who shares a lifeboat with a massive tiger. More than that, the movie is a symbolic contemplation of the deepest spiritual yearnings of human kind. In 3-D.

Sure I brought my 11-year-old, but you know what? Wesley didn't make a peep and I didn't get him any food. The way people act, you'd think we'd starve to death if we went two hours without a dose of butter simulant and high-fructose corn syrup.


Teeth. Grinding. To. Powder.

Perhaps I was like Pi, a man alone in a vast wasteland without provisions, battling my inner demons and fears.


Anyway, the movie was great. Really beautiful. You should see it.

Just don't sit next to me.

Daniel Dunkle is news editor for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife and two children. Email him at or follow him on twitter at @DanDunkle.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Carleton C Ingerson | Dec 01, 2012 06:43

That's exactly why I no longer go to the theater to watch a movie. It is much more enjoyable to sit and watch a movie in the comfort and solitude of my living room..and a whole lot more cost effective.

Posted by: William Spear | Dec 01, 2012 00:44

I wonder what those people paid for their 7 course meal  for 5000 ? I recently saw the new James Bond film. I paid $8 bucks for the movie. Got a small popcorn and a medium drink. $9.25. Great movie and no I didn't bother anybody.

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