by Nick Orsini
I'm a guy. A guy who keeps movie ticket stubs. Not only do I keep them, I've kept every single one since Ang Lee's "Hulk." The really monumental occasions, those times when the experience outweighs the movie itself, those ticket stubs go in a binder. It's one of those nifty craft-store binders made for concert tickets. I'm left meticulously gluing tickets into the over-sized plastic sleeves. I write a little paragraph about the night. The night that made that movie special. That binder is green and orange and crudely marked with pen and Sharpie. When I first started this project with Dylan...it was about trying to figure out the common thread between all those nights. What makes a movie ticket stub worthy of the binder? What makes going to the movies a memory rather than a thing you do for fun when you're bored?
I dressed up for “The Dark Knight.” I was that guy on line who went beyond the Batman t-shirt and the plastic Party City mask. I painted my face and wore full-on Joker getup. My girlfriend at the time, bless her soul, was my makeup artist. I started the night about 3 hours before the midnight showing of TDK. I started the night sitting on a folding chair, in the middle of my kitchen, with a cheesy Party City makeup kit. My lady dabbed a base layer of white, then replicated the cracking, over-wide smile…then she formed the big hollow black rings around my eyes. It was all tied together by my purple vest, purple tie and dress pants. That summer, I was in my early 20′s.
The first stop was CVS to stock up on snacks. When you’re a serious movie person, you go a step beyond the standard popcorn or pretzels. I’ve been known to bring in toasted almonds, Pringles by the tube, and even an occasional pint of Ben and Jerry’s. As I perused the store in my full makeup, I began catching the attention of some of the more conservative patrons. Their eyes betrayed their overt concern that I was being initiated into some gang or that I was a sideshow freak. The nice girl who rang me up at the register was completely professional. She pushed some buttons, took my money…all without once bringing up the fact that I was in full costume…in July.
Back in the parking lot of CVS, the night took a turn. I sat on my glasses, breaking them in three pieces. I didn’t want to wear my specs until I absolutely had to …to see the film. So, I put them down on the seat of my car. In my excitement, I crushed them to pieces. I would be going into The Dark Knight somewhere close to legally blind. No…that was unacceptable. I had to turn back and go to my house. I had to get my backup pair.
Replacing my cool, rimmed specs were my 9th grade Ben Franklin wire frames. Needless to say…it was about time to get to the theater.
On the line waiting to get in to see the show, people took pictures of me with their camera phones. Somewhere, out in the world, I’m living in someone’s SIM-memory photo gallery. I have been immortalized by the wonder of instant photography. There were a few costumed Batmen in attendance, all of whom, once we had our seats, harassed me to chase them around the theater. Because the showing was at midnight, the air conditioning in the theater, which was on a timer, shut off. The trailers rolled, my makeup rolled, the Ben Franklins were catching residual shades of black, white and red as they hung for dear life on the bridge of my nose.
There I was, amongst the die-hards, set apart as one of the most dedicated lunatics in the theater. I basked in the heat, in the crowd, in how mortified my girlfriend must have been. She came all the way from out-of-state to see the movie with me.
That’s what belongs in the binder. There’s going to the movies, but then, for some select few people, going to the movies becomes something else. It becomes this fusion…you’re a part of something that has always been, and will always be, bigger than yourself. There are coffee tins for all the movies you’ve seen, but then binders for all the movies you’ve really “seen”…I’m proud to be in the minority of people who still shell out money to see movies in the theater. I’ll keep paying my $10… or my $12…I’ll still read blogs and reviews and iMDB in my free time, on the bus, or in waiting rooms. I am the self-proclaimed king of Netflix Instant and the people at my Blockbuster might not know my name, but they damn sure know my beard and the way I power through the aisles on some sort of vision-quest.
I’m a guy. A guy who keeps movie ticket stubs. I bend the ticket before allowing foreign hands to rip it in two.
Nick Orsini <3
Nick Orsini is a writer from New Jersey, don’t hold that against him