Wednesday, December 29, 2004

No Common Sense Beyond This Point

First, I want to wish each and every one of you out there a very Merry Christmas (a few days late) and a Happy New Year! With any luck, you are enjoying this holiday season as much as we are in the House o' Joe. This week is especially awesome, now that the hectic shopping, sociopathic crowd-fighting, and last-minute gift-wrapping sessions are finally over! As usual, it was down to the wire for me... December 24th and I was standing in long checkout lines with all the other men in town who still hadn't found the "perfect gift" for their significant other. I can't help but wonder about the poor guy behind me in line at Wal-Mart... Were those holiday-print oven mitts as big a hit with his wife as he thought they'd be? Anyway, I've made a decision this year. Enough of this putting it all off until the last minute. I'm going to start procrastinating a lot early in 2005!

Okay, with all that out of the way, how's about you indulge me in a long-overdue rant? Buckle your seatbelts, kids... Here we go!

My girlfriend and I both have children from previous relationships. This means that, when it comes to holidays, our kids only spend half their time with us. This year, that meant having the brood home for Christmas Eve / Christmas Morning, then sending them off for Christmas Dinner and Boxing Day. And so, it was in this way that we found ourselves alone by about noon on Christmas Day.

It was bittersweet, in a way... After a morning of giddy, screaming, sugar-rushed children, the peace and quiet was a welcome relief. On the other hand, not having them around on Christmas left us feeling rather empty. So, we did what any other couple would do in our situation: We went to a movie.

Note: Before you think of us as totally pathetic human beings with nowhere to go for Christmas, let me point out that we were supposed to go to her sister's place for dinner. The problem was that she lives about an hour outside of town, in the mountains, and the brakes on the van were acting up. Not being with family on Christmas is one thing... Having to pull yourself from the flaming, twisted wreckage of a late 90's Grand Caravan and hitchhike back to civilization on Christmas is quite another!

Wondering when I'm going to get to the rant? Well, wait no longer...

The Paramount Chinook is an impressive movie theatre. It sports the 200 - 300 screens common to movieplexes these days, but they've done it with a bit of flair. The theme is Ancient Egypt, complete with giant cobras encircling the massive hieroglyphic-laden columns, monstrous scarab beetles clinging to the walls, and a King Tut death mask with lasers coming out of the eyes. Quite impressive, really. Anyway, since this particular theatre isn't in my end of town, I seldom get out to it. So, I wasn't prepared for the surprise...

Right there in the main lobby, along with Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Tim Horton's was a new concession... There, for all to see, from the couples sitting and eating over-priced Whoppers, to the kids thrashing away on the air hockey tables, emblazoned in bright neon where the words I never dreamed I'd see in a movie theatre: Beer & Wine.

I kid you not.

They were actually selling beer and wine at the theatre! Can you believe it? Well, I couldn't! Now, I'm no prude, so don't get me wrong... I enjoy a few cold ones from time to time, and I've even been known to pretend that I appreciate a fine glass of vino. But at the movies?!? Come on! Am I the only person who could instantaneously see the problem with this? Sure, there were signs posted at all the exits and the hallways leading to the theatres saying "Absolutely No Alcohol Beyond This Point", but who are they kidding? I mean, it doesn't exactly take a college degree to figure out that the pimply-faced kid taking your tickets isn't going to ask for a sip of your beverage to make sure you haven't made that simple mental leap and replaced your Coke with something a little stronger. Of course people are going to sneak the stuff in!

My suspicions were confirmed not two minutes after sitting down. The previews hadn't even come on yet when a couple of the guys behind us stood up and announced to their friends, "We're gonna go put some beer in these Coke cups!" The typical dumb jock laughing and high-fives as they made their way out to the lobby effectively eliminated any subterfuge their walnut-sized brains may have been able to muster up. Great. So much for enjoying the show. For the record, this same group made themselves known to the entire theatre by shouting obscenities at everyone who entered, and managed to make 2 more "beverage runs" before the movie ended. Color me impressed.

I'm not as pissed about the fact that these morons ruined my movie-going experience than I am at the fact that many future ones may be ruined as well. And what if I want to take the kids to see a show? What "extra entertainment" are they going to be subjected to because some brilliant marketing executive decided to cash in on the premise that we can't live without beer for a 2-hour stretch? Seriously.

So, I ask you, what's next? Am I going to see a Beer Gardens tent erected at the zoo? How about a swim-up bar at my neighborhood wading pool? Seriously! It's enough to drive a person to... well... write a rant about it. Thanks for indulging me.

Seasons Greetings and Peace To You All in 2005.
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