Please Refrain From Talking
 Friday  August 22, 1997




The Usual Suspects

I went to the movies today, where I was confronted by one of my biggest pet peeves. You know what it is already, don't you? It's such a universal gripe that you have to wonder why it happens. Everyone says they hate it when people talk during the movie, but some of you are lying. I know because I hear you.

I can understand the occasional comment whispered into the ear of whomever you're with -- we all do that, but what's up with these full-blown conversations in the middle of the movie? Maybe you're too stupid to have noticed, but you're not at home. This isn't your living room; you're in a movie theater. What could possibly be so important that you have to wait until the lights go down to talk about it? Listen, unless you've just realized that you're on fire, I don't want to hear about it. I don't want to hear about it even then; just leave and put the flames out in the lobby. Save it for after the movie or get the hell out now. I didn't pay $7.50 to hear about your pathetic little life, I paid it to watch the movie and thus escape mine.

Reactions to these nitwits vary. Some people ignore them, others give them dirty looks, a few brave souls whisper "Ssshhh!" Whatever the method of dealing with them, it's usually polite. Not me. Once you start talking you've forfeited that right. My first line of defense is to try to shame them into silence, but I'll go Neanderthal if I have to. Today's talkers succumbed to a genial "Come on, you guys, keep it down," but I've been known to lean over the seats, get nose-to-nose and tell them to shut the fuck up. It pisses me off mightily and I'm not shy about showing it. I can't think of a time when this didn't work. The closest it's ever come to not working was the time the group of metalheads invited me into the lobby to kick my ass. I took them up on it, they backed down, and all was quiet once again.

Sadly, this phenomenon isn't limited to movie theaters. I was in New York last year, watching a performance of "Rent" when the couple behind us started yammering. Beth, who's obviously been to too many movies with me, beat me to the punch when she turned around and growled at them to shut up. When they feebly protested Beth did it again and they stifled. During intermission the woman approached us indignantly and I was all set to, as Duke Nukem says, "rip 'em a new one," when Beth took the wind out of my sails and cracked me up. She told her, "If you want to talk, go to the movies." The woman was rendered speechless and remained so for the rest of the show. I loved it.

The next day, in a city teeming with millions of people, we ran into that same woman at the top of the Empire State Building. She was still talking.

I've been reading other journals for the past couple of days. You know, checking out the competition and sucking up a little voyeuristic frisson. Some of the pages are pretty nice and I've bookmarked them. But others... I can say only this:

Oh. My. God.

And so, a few suggestions for the "Oh. My. God." faction:

  • Midi sucks. If I want to hear Muzak I'll dive into an elevator shaft. I don't need it delivered to my desktop, thankyewverymuch.

  • "Thank you" is not hyphenated.

  • "A lot" is not a single word.

  • "Anyhoo" is not a word.

  • Punctuation is a good thing.

  • So is proper spelling.

  • Hey, you with the dark tile background and black text! Guess what? We can't read your page!

  • A little angst goes a long way.
Thank you. Class dismissed.




Copyright 1997
Chuck Atkins