I took a sick day and went to the movies. I like to go alone on weekday afternoons. People are at work, and the theaters are nearly empty. It was Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, and he badly wanted some poor sonofabitch to get off his lawn.
I chose a central seat a few rows from the front and glanced around to see just one other person sitting, oddly I thought, far away in a back corner. But to each his own, I decided, and turned my attention back to memories of other Eastwood films I’d seen. Several minutes later, as the previews were winding down, a man strolled down the aisle and sat directly in front of me — as if reporting dutifully to his assigned seat on the second day of tenth grade geometry. After glancing around the desolate theater a few times to be sure I was not the target of a practical joke or the subject of a social experiment, I began to analyze the possible motives behind this man’s most bizarre seating selection. I thought mental illness was plausible — but I finally decided that he was somehow oblivious to the imposition, and I’ll have to admit, this triggered a rage response in me, complete with fleeting thoughts of sudden violence.
But then Clint flashed onto the screen with his trademark technicolor scowl, and returning suddenly to myself, I switched to a more suitable seat a few rows back and let the projector’s pale blue opiate glow sing me down to the bliss of no longer knowing.