Back in 2008, my BFF Nina and I started a tradition of going to the movies every Wednesday night. I’ve always loved the movies and Nina suggested we go to bargain night at the locally owned Cheswick theater.
There was good news and bad news about frequenting the local Mom and Pop instead of the huge new multiscreen complex with big comfortable seats and dozens of show times each day for the latest blockbuster.
The good news was that bargain night was cheap—five dollars, if memory serves, and that included popcorn. The bad news was that the place only had four screens, which meant that our selection was severely limited.
But in a way this turned out to be good news too. We ended up seeing movies we never would’ve seen—High School Musical, the first new Star Trek with Chris Pine (which Nina kept calling Star Wars), and a creepy alien movie whose name I thankfully can’t recall.
We watched Liam Neeson in Taken while literally sitting on the edge of our seats. We shared the theater with a couple, and during one action-packed sequence, all four of us jumped at the same time and then laughed at ourselves.
Some of these movies we liked, some we didn’t. But it wasn’t about the movies. It was about the minutes we spent sitting in the theater catching up on our lives before the lights dimmed and the movie started. It was the car ride on the way home gushing or mocking the show.
It was a way for us for stay connected as our lives grew busier. Once you leave high school and college, it’s hard to keep your friends close and even harder to make new ones. It’s no longer a matter of you all running into each other every day like you’re on Friends. Friendships change and most don’t survive. This is nobody’s fault, but we didn’t want it to happen to us.
So we kept on with movie night until the little Cheswick Theater closed in November 2009. It didn’t come as a shock when it closed, as more and more we were the only two in the theater for any given movie.
We tried shifting movie night to the multiplex, but it wasn’t the same. There was something we liked about the Mom and Pop aspect of the theater, and the popcorn didn’t taste as good when it was $7 a tub.
We made new traditions, found new ways to stay in touch. I like to think we’ll be friends forever, but one never knows what life has in store. A lifetime friend is a rare gift.
One of the final movies we watched was Confessions of a Shopaholic. It was funny, but this night we shared the theater with two old ladies who sat in the front row. They laughed and chatted before the show, wearing sweaters and pearls and complaining about how cold the theater was.
Once the movie started, the first lady kept saying, “what?” loudly to her friend. At this point, the friend would repeat the onscreen dialogue.
For Nina and me, it made what was merely a mildly funny movie very entertaining. We heard every joke twice.
At the end of the movie, we watched the old ladies hobble out on their canes and smiled.
“I hope we’re just like them when we’re old,” Nina said. “Still friends, still going to the movies.”
“I hope you’re the deaf one,” I said.