Monday, November 26, 2012


It started with a text.

Me: Any interest in seeing a movie this afternoon? Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Argo are all playing at Lincoln Square.

Matt: I’d love to see Lincoln or Argo.

Me: Argo @ 4. Meet you inside the lobby.

Fast forward to 3:30pm. The lobby of the Lincoln Square cineplex was crowded. Two out of every four ticket kiosks: broken. The line for the ticket counter was snaking almost to the end of the stanchion dividers. I was nervous. I hate going to the movies in NYC. The hotter the ticket the more possible the theater will be filled with those inconsiderate movie goers who think nothing of texting, talking on their phones, or talking to each other. 

Picture me in a lobby full of people when I got to the front of my ticket kiosk line to print my pre-purchased tickets and saw that the movie I’d purchased tickets for was sold out. It was less than 30 minutes to showtime, Matt wasn’t there, my kiosk was one of the broken ones; I had to join new line. My brain was forming a picture of the crowd of people who were already filling seats to the 4pm showing of Argo. I wasn’t planning on getting a snack, but the fact that time was ticking away took the option away from me. I’m not one of those people who will wait in line for snacks while the previews are playing then sneak in just as the movie starts. No, I want to watch the previews. That’s part of my movie going experience.

At 3:40pm I had made it to the front of a working ticket kiosk line and had my tickets in hand. Matt was still no where to be found. I called him. He answered with the voice of someone in movement. He was on his way. I was standing in a prime location. One that would ensure I saw him and that he saw me. I doubted I would be missed. I mean I was wearing my gray coat with my blue scarf thrown fashionably around my neck and my Coach bag was draped over my arm. Even if you weren’t looking for me, I was hard to miss. What can I say? Sometimes I stand out in a crowd. It happens.

People were walking past or splitting up to stand it two kiosk lines determined to waste no moment in purchasing or retrieving their tickets. Others were riding up escalators, laughing with their friends. Shouts of joy erupted as one of the split pair reached the front of their line first, the other jumping out of line to join them. My friend wasn’t there. Time wasn’t slowing it was actively moving forward. I was checking the time on my phone. I was still standing fashionably ensembled in my prime location. The last I looked there were no texts or voicemails. I was no nearer to getting a seat in the sold out showing of Argo.

Then I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check again. Two missed calls. Of course with all the hustle and bustle of the crowded lobby I didn’t hear it ring. I called Matt back. As obviously visible as I thought I was, he had missed me and I him. He was upstairs looking for me when he’d called and failed to reach me. I called him back as he was riding the escalator back down. He was asking me where I was when I caught sight of him. We laughed, said our hellos, and headed back up the escalator.

Argo was showing in one of Lincoln Square’s smaller movie theaters. It made since. The film had been playing for a few weeks. Smaller theater means less seats to sell before sold out. Sold out means crowded. We ended up in the second row.

That’s normally a groaner of a seat location for me, but you know what, this time it wasn’t. I was okay with sitting that close. I asked Matt if he wanted to split up to get seats further back, but the choice was made to stick together. So we had the aisle of the second row. Scooting way down in the seat provided a good viewing angle and the perfect head rest. I won’t lie. As okay as I was with sitting in the second row, my 40 year old eyes wished they’d been a little further back. Eyesight in your 40s starts to suck. I can’t believe I need a little distance now for clarity, but that’s another story. I’m not saying the images on the screen were blurry or anything, they just would have been less strain on the eyes with a little distance.

What can I say about Argo? I don’t want to give anything away, but that film was wound tighter than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs rocking at full tilt. Seriously! If I was a nail biter I would have no more nails. I went along for this ride and forgot to buckle my seat belt. I couldn’t have been more excited to by flying by the seat of my pants. I don’t know if it’s the directing or the editing or the way it all works together combined with just the right music, but this story was taut and I was terrified the high wire was going to snap. That’s an amazing feat considering it’s based on a true story, and we know how it turned out. Amidst the riveting scenario, the screenplay was laced with comedic lines, like that of the title of this blog, to help break the tension. Moments of much needed respite for the heart to stop its agitated pounding and calm down to a resting pulse only to speed up again. Who knew watching Argo was also a way to burn calories?
When I saw the musical 1776 for the first time, my friend, James, saw how anxious I was about whether or not they would sign The Declaration of Independence. He leaned over to me and whispered, “You know they sign it.” History. I know it was signed, but the tension was palpable. Sometimes when I watch Titanic I think maybe this time it won’t sink. To me both of the above references are examples of good storytelling. We know the outcome, but are so engrossed in the story that we aren’t sure it’s going to be what we know.

I was 8 years old when the hostage crises depicted in Argo happened. My sister wasn’t even a year old yet. I don’t remember much about it except there were hostages. What I do remember are the yellow ribbons tied around trees, lamp posts, electricity poles, etc. I remember that. Seeing those yellow ribbons in the film was an immediate connector to the time. Images of Ted Koppel, Walter Cronkite, and Diane Sawyer reporting were priceless -- real life history on display. The Star Wars memorabilia took me to my cousin Kevin’s house. He lived just down the street from me. He had all of those figurines as well as the Millennium Falcon. Memories of my youth were before my eyes on screen. The glasses, the hair styles, the clothes. I was a child of the 80s. I would bet the only event more talked about during that time was Who Shot J.R.?, which happened four months after the hostage crisis began. That phrase is still in the lexicon today.

As my 40 year old eyes watched history’s denouement play out from the second row on a 20 foot high screen (#secondrowsarcasm), I cried. There was nothing I could do about it. I had to release. I was finally able to breathe along with the characters on the screen. I was filled with joy. The pressure I’d been feeling in my chest had welled up into my eyes, rolled down my cheeks and suddenly been replaced with joy and happiness. That joy and happiness was for the characters as well as for the fact that I had just witnessed a damn good film. Oscar viewing season, for me, was officially in swing.

You know what follows a great movie? An amazing burger. Matt suggested we go A.G. Kitchen. I’d never been and was game for the new experience. That burger was of the holla-praise-to-Jesus variety; so juicy that you’ve either got to forget about wiping you hands each time you take a bite or get over yourself and not be embarrassed if you need to ask for another napkin. I didn’t ask for another napkin, by the way, but the one I had was filthy with goodness. Our dinner conversation ran the gambit of what we’d done over the past two days, to work, to food, to drinks, and then turned to twitter. I talked to Matt about setting up a twitter account to promote his business. While he didn’t do that, he did set up a personal twitter account. I showed him how to tweet, follow, retweet, discover. Then I tweeted Ben Affleck about Argo. Why not? He’s on twitter and I had something to say.

After the film and after dinner, Matt and I walked seven blocks in the direction of his apartment and my train. It was a crisp autumn night. I felt like I was right where I belonged. I was walking down the sidewalk in New York City having seen a fantastic film with an audience too engaged to talk. I had what might possibly be the best burger of my life at a restaurant I’d never been to before. I was with one of my two best friends, feeling lighter than air, not a care in the world. It was a good night. “Argo fuck yourself.” Smile.

Hope Ben Affleck reads my tweet.