An Epic Tale of Obsession, Magic and Basic Silliness

Part 2: The Waiting

To recap: after the long march to Loews and ensuing chaos, I finally got into the theatre in which all three Ring movies of Peter Jackon were to be shown.

It was about 9:30AM and I was already cheesed off. I was cold, my breakfast had been prematurely discarded, I had been handed a document of what not to do during the movie and my hand was inky from the stamp used by the theatre to thwart would-be gatecrashers (I later learned that just having the stamp or the ticket stub alone wasn’t sufficient to prove that you were a legitimate ticket holder. Both needed to be produced to be allowed back into the HALL OF VIEWING). This was a lot of bureaucracy to handle outside the context of a job.

The HALL OF VIEWING was on the first floor, conveniently located near both the restrooms and concession stand. The HALL itself probably had a capacity around 500-1000 people. Although the theatre was newly built, there was a kind of stage in front of the screen. In the corner of stage right was both a podium and a table that I would later come to understand as Command and Control. The HALL was about a third filled with the kinds of folks you’d expect at any all-day Tolkien event; lanky guys in their twenties with grimy hair and t-shirts; hippy chicks with dreadlocks; forty-somethings trying not to look awkward; Big-But-Beautiful girls clustered together (perhaps for fail-over purposes); college kids playing some kind of roleplaying game; a small host of elven princesses. But, there were no hobbits, dwarves or wizards. Ents were right out (this was another stricture of Loews).

In short, these were my people.

My friend had staked out a prime location for our seats. I would be shocked to learn that my seat wasn’t dead center in front of the screen.
On both aisle, several stern faced ushers were hunting for empty seats being held for ticket holders who had not yet arrived. This was verboten!
Perhaps some jackass was attempting to hold a whole row of seats for his buddies, but I don’t think the theatre needed to organize goon squads to root out the odd seat being held. The HALL was two-thirds empty (or perhaps a third filled, if you think that way). I made my way to Zorknapp.

“Heya,” I cleverly said.

Zorknapp handed me a menu with the following items:

  • 1 hot dog, fries and a 32 oz. drink: $11
  • 2 hot dogs, fries and a 32 oz. drink: $13
  • 2 32 oz. drinks and a 170 oz. tub of pop corn: $8
  • tiny pizza and drink: $10

What I didn’t notice at first was that these items would be delivered to your seat, which explains the mark up. Or so I thought. It turned out that the mark was only about one dollar compared to what one pays at the concession stand. This menu was all part of the overriding meme for that day of “not moving out of my seat.” While I read through the menu, Zorknapp dropped the bomb on me: the first movie would start at 1:15PM.

“But it’s like 9:45AM now,” I observed.

“Right,” replied Zorknapp.

“So what do we do for three hours?” I wondered.

“We wait,” Zorknapp said solemnly.

I hadn’t thought through all the schedule of events too clearly. In my fantasy, the movie would begin in mid-morning and all the films would be over by early evening. This suggests that some unknown German heredity exists somewhere in my family tree. I forgot that I was at An Event. The theme was excess. Of course movie fans would wait in pre-dawn light to get into a theatre to wait another four hours (remember, I was “late”) for the first film to roll. What was my problem?

It turns out that this pre-movie lull was the best part of the show.

Settling into time-burning mode, I cast another glance over the crowd.
In the row below me, a fellow wore a t-shirt with the Letterman-esque “Top Ten Ways You Know You’re A Tolkien Fan” (number 8: “you call your father ‘Old Gaffer’”). On my right, one elven maiden was explaining the construction of her costume to an interested party (of which I was not). From behind me, a patron exclaimed “Geez, they screwed up the crossword puzzle. They used ‘Cereborn’ in place of ‘Celeborn.’ Morons!” I hadn’t seen the crossword puzzle, much less attempted to solve it.

A women in a chartreuse shirt and black pants made An Annoucement from the front of the HALL without the aid of a public address system (which was a mistake because she was unable to project her voice loudly enough for the room). She reminded us of the extortionate menu items and tolds us of two pre-movie activities, a trivia contest and a costume contest. Also, a raffle was being held whose prize was a copy of Return of the King signed by all the movie’s cast. The costume contest was on deck first.

Once a panel of impartial judges were selected, the small host of elven princesses were lined up (as if in front of a firing squad) on the stage. I was too far from the stage and too uninterested to hear the details, but appearingly an elf princess won the contest! But I suppose all the participants were winners after a fashion. The trivia contest was next but I took even less interest in that since it was done without the aid of a PA system.

Chartreuse Girl really got on my nerves. She made about nine announcements that day and that’s approximately nine more than were needed. She ended most of weakly spoken implorations with that most ubiquitous of expressions “are there any questions?” Any graduate of high school knows that this is the siren song of the wiseass. Although our better angels prevented us from uttering our thoughts too loudly, our little group did have a few questions. Like where did elf babies come from? How do elves go “downtown?” And, was Our Lady of the Green Shirt going to be around after the show?

Really, we slew ourselves.

Time passes quickly when making fun of others. Soon, the first movie began and the audience was introduced to the wonders of advertising.

Tune in next Monday for the final installment of Hail to the King in which jjohn actually watches the bloody movies.

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