Once more to the movies, with all our household. Truly, it was once more -- we'd seen All's Well That Ends Well two weeks ago, and yes, it was kind of stonkingly impressive, even though I'd forgotten the plot and was not really prepared for it by E. Nesbit's retelling. That is, I wasn't ready with an answer for the eight-year-old's persistent question: "But when is he going to cut a lock of her hair?" The exchange of a lock of hair is not quite what happens, rather pivotally, between Bertram and Helena, which I, again, had forgotten. But as they say . . .
Anyway, the next screening is Doctor Faustus, to which I might opt not to take the whole family, and then that's it for us and the movies, until who knows when. But tonight we were going to see Much Ado About Nothing, the plot of which I do remember perfectly well, thank you very much, not being as entirely senile as all that, and E. Nesbit's not having had to embroider quite so much for the juvenile reading audience of 1907.
So of course there's no Shakespeare's Globe On Screen at the Cinema of the Undead in Fiat; you have to drive to Panacea Falls, where the culture happens. At least, rumor has it that culture happens there. Rumor had it, in fact, that culture was happening at the Panacea Falls 47, and so we went, with five people and a bunch of snacks, because seven-dollar popcorn is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. I was afraid that the eight-year-old's twelve-pack of Juicy Fruit was going to fall out of her sweatshirt sleeve as we traversed the cavernous cinema lobby -- cavernous and really, really empty, for a place where culture was said to be happening -- and approached the concession stand where you have to buy your tickets, because I guess people can't be sitting in those ticket windows all the time.
The two teenaged girls at the concession-stand cash register were intrigued by our movie choice.
"Oh, that's how you say that," said one of them. "I thought it was Muchado."
"No," said the other one. "It's Much Ado-Ay." That was how it was listed on the marquee: Much Ado A. I mean, you can't have the Shakespeare movie title taking up valuable space from Twilight: Twisted Brokenness With Great Hair, or whatever the heck this installment is called. I saw the preview, and I'm still not sure.
Having bought our tickets, we navigated the dim labyrinth of corridors and doors and numbers picked out in light-emitting diodes, and we went to the bathroom, and we found Theater 2, our theater. It really was our theater. I do not know whether, if culture happens in Panacea Falls and no one is there to see it, it makes any sound or not, but tonight we were there, so I guess the world is still waiting to find out. What we saw, by ourselves in the otherwise empty theater, made plenty of noise: a series of rancid R-rated trailers, including one in which Barbra Streisand plays Seth Rogen's mother, yet looks about three days older than that Judy character she played in What's Up, Doc.
"Cover your eyes, children," we said.
After Seth and Barbra, Sylvester Stallone appeared on the screen, and we were just telling the children to cover their eyes again, when he froze in mid-threat, the lights came up, and we were listening to Dance Party Hits.
"Thank you," we called to the projectionist.
The lights went down again. We pulled the snacks from our various pockets and bags, where they had been bulging in concealment.
The lights came up again, and once more it was Dance Party time.
Lather, rinse, repeat, went this sequence.
On the third or fourth round of Dance Party, a manager appeared, apologizing profusely for the interruptions in our private screening of . . . whichever movie that was, of the forty-seven currently showing. She talked to the projectionist in the booth for a while, and then she came back to chat with us, shoot the breeze, you know, so maybe we wouldn't notice the time whirling away under the bridge as we sat there, not watching a movie.
What we were thinking was, Please, lady, go away, so that we can eat our clandestine snacks.
She did go away for a little while, but then she came back, with another manager. We hugged our snacks to us, beneath our jackets, which prompted the first manager to remark to the second that they really ought to turn the heat up; we looked cold. But on second thought, never mind, she said, because it appeared that the film -- it wasn't actually a film but a streaming kind of deal -- was kaput. Would we like to see Hotel Transylvania instead? She had thought that one was kind of cute, and by then it was only about three-quarters over.
Um, thanks but no thanks, we said. We'd really been in the mood for El Muchado, or whatever our movie was called . . . even we were starting to forget. La Much Ado-Ay? Anyway. They were very nice about it all. We left the theater with our sixty-two bucks refunded, a handful of free passes to, I don't know, Twilight and the Goblet of Barbra Streisand or something, plus -- and this was my favorite part -- a supersize bag of free apology popcorn, to go with the snacks we'd snuck in. Also we were able to share with the manager the one thing we know about African violets: Epsom salts. So the evening was not wasted.
We came home and tried to find a version of . . . wait, let me get this right . . . Wilbert and Sullivanspeare's The Muchado . . . to stream online, but no luck. Instead we watched a 1978 BBC production of As You Like It starring Helen Mirren, Angharad Rees, and lots and lots of men with bangs, leggings, and thigh-high boots, looking like characters in a Monty Python skit about a Shakespeare play. That was all right, though not quite what we'd aspired to.
But then, we aspire to all kinds of silly things that never come to pass, and are surprised, likewise, by the things that do. I was surprised, for example, by the name of the mall across from the theater: Valley Hills. All the way home I tried to think of similar mall names: Asphalt Springs, say, or -- and this would cover all the bases -- Oxymoron Ridge. It would work for a subdivision, too. Again, what with one thing and another, the time is never wasted.