The Buffer Seat

I definitely don’t go to the movies enough. I really love films. I get entrenched in the experience. The only thing I’m not fond of in the theater is the proximity of the seats.

I appreciate that it’s inevitable during a popular movie to sit next to someone, but I take measures to avoid that. And by measures, I mean I wait until the hype has calms down, I go alone, and I go to an early showing. Early like 10 am.

I saw The Hateful Eight that way. 10:20 am on New Years Day at Colonie Center. Best thing I ever did.

The next morning (1/2), I set out to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the 10 am showing, the first showing in 3D of the day.

Here’s what sucked about that movie: the kid who sat next to me. Him and his family.

By the time I saw the film, everybody and their mothers had seen it. I literally avoided all social media postings and news reports about the movie to not be spoiled, even though, honestly, I didn’t care if it was. What are they going to spoil that happens in the film?

So when I got to the theater, I walked up about 4 rows and sat maybe 6 seats in toward the center of the screen. There were 4 seats to my right and a couple adjacent to that. Within the 20 minutes of sitting there while “Regal First Look” played, maybe 15 other people entered the theater. Most of them went to higher seats, a couple went to lower ones.

During the first trailer, a family of four walks in, makes their way up the stairs, and, lo and behold, they walk down the row I’m sitting in, and each of them steps over me to take the 4 seats next to me. I hope they didn’t notice the bag of Inner Peas I was munching on. Actually, I don’t care if they saw it. They have absolutely no respect for the buffer seat. Those not familiar, the buffer seat is the seat in between you and your neighbor. In a mostly empty theater, even when with friends, everyone should observe the buffer seat. This was covered on Seinfeld.

Why these people thought they needed to sit next to me, I have no idea. There were plenty of great seats in other rows.

Alright, I quickly got over the annoyance and came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t lean to the right in my seat. For the rest of the movie, this kid, a tall chap maybe 6’2″, 22 years old, was wobbling back and forth and leaning forward with his forearms on his knees.

I felt uncomfortable getting up and moving, but the 32 oz of water I had prior to the film gave me a reason to get up and return to a new seat. I don’t think I missed anything in the 2 minutes I was gone, and I was completely comfortable for the shocking finale.

Sitting next to that kid for 2 hours aside, I enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I mean, there hasn’t been much in the Star Wars series I didn’t enjoy. I don’t get too caught up in the mythology, just because people get a little too emotional about it.

But The Hateful Eight was a much better theater experience. It was a better film and the other viewers respected the buffer seat system.


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