Peter and I had big plans yesterday to see The Dark Knight. We'd tried on my birthday, but the timing hadn't worked out. The next weekend, he was away again, this time teaching a group workshop. We tentatively planned to see it during the week, but I got sick and wasn't up to evening outings, so that pushed it out to this past weekend. Friday night, Peter had a workshop and Saturday night, I had a football match. Finally, this Sunday looked nearly perfect.
I say nearly because Cork were playing Kilkenny in the Hurling Semi-Finals in Croke Park. To understand the importance of this pairing, think the Red Sox playing the Yankees in Game Seven of the ALCS and you're on the right track. The thrown-in for the match was at 4, which made movie timing a bit complicated.
Our choices were to either A.) go to the closer cinema for the 9pm showing or B.) go to the farther away cinema for the 1.10PM showing, listen to first half of the match on the way home and then hope that we arrived back in time to watch the thrilling conclusion. Option A was a non-runner, since I'm absolutely hopeless at staying up late. As much as it killed the Cork hurling fan in me, I knew this was our last chance to see the film until late September, at which point it might be difficult to find in the cinema.
We were out the door according to schedule and even the Sunday drivers couldn't keep us from getting to the cinema on time. We bought our tickets, purchased some snacks, and went in to get seats. When we opened the door to Theatre 2, the unmistakable smell of urine slapped us in the face. I looked at Peter in disbelief and he nodded his head in disgust. The message on his face was clear: No, you're not going crazy, it reeks like a pub urinal in here.
We chose seats about half-way down the aisle and waited for the smell to abate. Only it didn't. I was also disappointed to note that screen was rather small. With about 5 minutes to go before the start of the film, I left to use the bathroom. On my way back to Theatre 2, I noted that The Dark Knight was starting in Theatre 1 at 2.00PM. I toyed with the idea but reminded myself that the earlier show was crucial if I wanted to catch any of the hurling.
Back in Theatre 1, Peter leaned over and said "Do you know what I love most about going to the cinema? The smell of urine!" I told him "Maybe it's Smellovision. I bet this is exactly what a sleazy dark alley in Gotham City would smell like." Peter suggested changing our tickets for the 2.00 showing. One more look at the tiny screen and another whiff of the malodorous surroundings convinced me that I was not going to be able to enjoy the film under the current conditions.
I waited in the cinema's cafe seating area while Peter tried to exchange our tickets. It seemed to be taking an awfully long time. I became concerned that some bizarre policy might force us to pay for new tickets. Unreasonable and unlikely, but not outside the bounds of possibility. Finally, Peter returned with two fresh new tickets for the 2pm showing.
Me: What took so long? I was starting to get concerned.
Peter: Well, I had to wait for a manager. Then, when she finally arrived, it was quick and easy to change the tickets.
Me: So why did it take so long?
Peter: Because she kept insisting on telling me that I wasn't smelling what I was smelling.
Me: Then what were we smelling?
Me (after taking a good sniff of Peter's medium popcorn): Popcorn, me fecking arse!
Peter: Yes, she kept insulting my intelligence by insisting that it was just popcorn and that the theatre always smells that way.
Me: But we've been here before and it's never smelled like that!
When it was time to go into Theatre 1, I went in with some trepidation. What if this theatre reeked as well? I didn't smell anything in Theatre 1 although Peter insisted he could still detect a faint odor. (It could very well be possible that he was smelling something as I'm still getting over my head cold. So you know that Theatre 2 had to have been really bad to have it bother me so much.)
Our cinema story has a happy ending. We were finally able to see the film and we both enjoyed it. (I think it has rocketed to the top of my all-time favourites list, even though The Joker terrified me.) My hurling story has a less happy ending. I was reduced to listening to the second half in the car and Cork were resoundingly defeated. Even so, changing our plans was the right thing to do. I don't think I would have enjoyed the film as much if I'd been distracted by the conditions.
At one point, I had to take a bathroom break during the film (2.5 hr film + tiny bladder = at least one and more probably two breaks). A few of the ushers had congregated near the stairs and I overheard their conversation. It went a little something like this: "I told her popcorn smells quite differently when it's burnt, but I don't think she believed me."