by Valerie Nusbaum

Randy and I are reviving the tradition of Date Night. It could be argued that since we take a lot of day trips and we eat a lot of meals in restaurants, we’ve been dating all along, but why split hairs?

A few weeks ago, on a non-date, we had dinner at Applebee’s. The restaurant had a promo where if a customer spent a certain amount of money on one tab, said customer would receive a voucher for a free movie ticket to see the new Indiana Jones film. Randy and I didn’t give it any thought because we’re not big spenders on meals out, as we aren’t huge eaters and don’t usually order appetizers or desserts. That particular day was hot outside, so we ordered iced teas and then we got refills. Our bill came, and it was more than we anticipated. We were in a hurry to get out of there, so we just paid the bill and left, and only after that, discovered that we’d been charged for both our drinks and our refills. Maybe that’s restaurant policy, but I don’t think so. Anyway, we let it go that time. 

The good news is that we did qualify for the free movie ticket, so we made a plan to go. The last time we went to a movie was years ago, and that involved walking into the theater, going up to the ticket window, and buying a paper ticket. Seriously, kids, that’s how we did it. Nowadays, tickets are purchased online through Fandango, and seats are chosen and reserved. This is a nice feature, actually. I like not having to show up way too early in order to get a good seat.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was being shown at the Westview Theaters, and our seating was at 12:30 p.m. Yes, I know, I said we were doing a date NIGHT, but what did I say about splitting hairs?  Naturally, we arrived a half hour early.  We didn’t know how traffic would be around Frederick, and we needed time to use the restrooms and get some popcorn. 

Did I mention that if we had paid full ticket price for both our tickets, it would have cost us $33.00? Randy’s ticket was free, so we only paid $17 and change. Whoo-hoo! Back in our misspent youth when Randy and I were truly dating, we’d go see a movie at a theater we referred to as “The Cheap Seats.” Tickets were $1.49 and the movies were mostly new releases.  Combine that with dinner at Taco Bell, dessert at Shoney’s, and a second movie at the late show, and we barely spent $20.00. I was a cheap date. Not so much anymore. I wanted popcorn, and the small bag cost $9.00. Randy nearly passed out when the cashier told him how much.

The theater was out of napkins, so I had to go back into the ladies room and get some toilet tissue for us to wipe all that butter off our hands. We had stopped at the Taco Bell drive-thru and gotten two soft chicken tacos, which we ate on the way to the theater.   We were probably unconsciously trying to recreate our past glory.   Randy and I ate every morsel of that popcorn, too.

At 12:15 p.m., the previews and ads began rolling on the big screen, and other viewers straggled into the theater. Two men and two women had bought seats directly in front of us, and another couple sat right behind us. The rest of the theater was empty.  We weren’t even sitting in the middle of our row. We’d chosen seats on the aisle.

Eventually, some other people came in and sat down, and I’d say there were about 30 people present for the 12:30 matinee. Neither of the two men in front of us could hear well, so the women were shouting at them. Tom and Sam were their names.  Sam’s phone rang about 14 times, but he couldn’t hear it. Finally, Martha got up and went through Sam’s pockets to find the phone and turn it off, all the while explaining what she was doing in her outdoor voice.

There was another couple sitting up in the rafters, and they were having a very heated argument. We could hear the whole thing. Randy and I ate our popcorn and talked about how much we enjoy sitting on the couch in our living room and watching movies on our big television where there are no people. We can pause the film if we need to go to the bathroom or get a snack, and we can turn it off if we don’t like the show without feeling too guilty.

The movie didn’t actually start until 1:00 p.m. I remember looking at my watch, which read 2:00 p.m., and thinking, “How has it only been an hour?” At 3:00 p.m., both of my legs had cramped and my backside had gone to sleep. Randy and I both needed to go to the bathroom, and we were thirsty from all that popcorn.  Tom got up and left before the movie was over. Martha could be heard telling Sadie that she’d only ever had one husband, so I don’t know who Sam was or if Sam knew, either.

It might be a while before we have another Date Night. We need to rest up and save some money.

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