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I went to a movie this evening. Not a big deal, you say? Well, the last movie I went to was Fantasia at the Cerritos not-quite-in-the-mall Theater. I believe it was 1977, and I took my daughter to see that marvelous animation in re-release. The tickets cost more than $2.00 each, but you did get seven cartoons and you could watch the movie over and over if you wanted.

That same daughter, now (harumph) years old, took me tonight to see War Horse, quite a nice movie but not at all like the last one we saw together. The tickets cost $11.50 each ($9.00 with my senior discount, which for some reason they didn’t even question) and as we walked in the door with at least one of us suffering from sticker shock, Betsy laughed and said, “Wait until you see what they charge for popcorn!”

We ordered 2 small popcorn and 2 drinks. The young lady behind the counter suggested that we consider the Number Two, which consisted of one large popcorn and two large drinks for $16.50. Sixteen-fifty! It doesn’t sound any better when you write it out. Nevertheless, Betsy treating all the way, a Number Two is what we ended up with. As we turned to leave the popcorn counter, the smiling young girl handed us another gallon-sized bag of popcorn.

“You get a free refill,” she told us. “You might as well take it now, so you can each have your own.”

My daughter, who has apparently been to the movies since I have, led me to a condiment bar, where we drenched our popcorn with some oily substance that was nowhere identified as butter. On top of that we sprinkled various flavored salts: Ranch, Nacho Cheese, Caramel. There was probably plain old sodium chloride there, too, but I didn’t spot it.

Laden with all our goodies, we set off to find our particular theater, no small undertaking in the maze that housed more than a dozen of them under one roof. We made sure we were in the right place and found seats which were surprisingly comfortable.

The movie screen covered one entire wall, and apparently the other three contained gigantic hidden speakers, because we hardly had time to arrange our popcorn and drinks before the walls shook. This was not The Big One we’ve been told to expect in California, but merely the first half-hour of the presentation, namely COMING ATTRACTIONS at your friendly neighborhood theater. The decibel level was such that I seriously considered forgoing the movie and preserving my hearing in some other venue. Happily, just as on television, the volume diminished when the actual movie began and it turned out to be quite enjoyable.

Who knows, I might go again one day. I’ll know enough to take earplugs and a fat wallet, and I’ll call my daughter to go with me. . . just as soon as Fantasia comes around again.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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