Sometimes you just need an adjustable chair and fake butter

Columnist Dan Conradt says a trip to the movies comes with new experiences, and the same old nap.

Dan Conradt column sig
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“We’ll have to do this more often,” I whispered. We were in the middle of the “Coming Attractions” and the sound was blaring, but whispering was still movie theater etiquette.

We were also the only ones in the theater, which is one of the nice things about a Tuesday afternoon matinee.

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“I haven’t been to a movie theater since … “ I stopped to think: “‘The Poseidon Adventure.’ The first one … with Shelley Winters. She was past her bombshell days by then, but she was still a great swimmer.”

Carla reached for the jumbo tub of popcorn we’d put on the seat between us.

“Our whole family went, and we never went to movies,” I continued. “The people behind us kept talking until my dad turned around and told them to shut up.”


“That wasn’t the last time you saw a movie in a theater,” Carla reminded me. “We saw that movie with Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers.”

“Oh, right. That was a great movie. I’ve never seen Tom Hanks in a bad movie.”

“And you went to that Star Wars movie with Steven ...”

I smiled at the memory. We’d called it a “Boy’s Night Out” and promised to do it again. We never did. Maybe this Christmas, when he comes home from college …

The synthetic butter the girl in the lobby squirted on our popcorn had triggered a pleasantly relaxing endorphin rush, and I stifled a yawn.

“Three movies in 50 years.” I said. “Seems like I’m always at the theater.”

In the light of another preview, something involving dragons, I thought I detected an eye-roll.

“I don’t know if the movies are better than they were 50 years ago,” I said. “But the seats sure are.”


I touched the lighted button on the inside of my chair arm and the headrest and footrest went in opposite directions; another inch or two and I’d be in that uncomfortable “just past horizontal” position, the one that leaves me fighting to make sure I don’t slide head-first onto my dentist’s examining room floor.

But the seat reminded me of the ultra-comfortable “Try Me” massage chair at the Brookstone store at the mall … minus the Magic Fingers and the built-in heater ... and even if today’s movie is lousy, I thought, five bucks for two hours in this chair is a bargain.

“Do you remember the first movie you ever saw in a theater?” Carla asked.

I licked genuine imitation butter off my fingers and kicked off my shoes. So relaxed …

“Like it was yesterday,” I said, trying to disguise another yawn. “My mom had to do some shopping, so she dropped my brothers and me at the Paramount on a Saturday afternoon to see ‘Bambi.’ She gave each of us a quarter for treats. Back then a quarter would get you popcorn and a Mallo Cup and you’d still have money left over.”

I was suddenly hungry for a Mallo Cup. I settled for an impolite slurp of pop, and was glad that we had the theater to ourselves and that the girl at the snack bar wasn’t judgmental when we asked for a large Coke and two straws.

Man, this chair is comfortable …

“Austin used to have an outdoor theater,” I said. “One year they were doing a dusk-to-dawn marathon of all the ‘Planet Of The Apes’ movies over the Labor Day weekend. I went with a bunch of guys, and one of the guys hid in the trunk so he wouldn’t have to pay. We forgot about him until halfway through the second movie.”


It was probably closer to five minutes, and it was more prank than forgetfulness, but like most stories it’s been embellished over the years.

An announcer with a Surround Sound-enhanced baritone said, “And now our feature presentation …”

And then Carla said “That was a great movie!”

“Mmmmmft?” The credits were rolling and the house lights had come back up.

“Did you fall asleep?”

“No,” I said with a thick voice. “Uh … yes.”

“That’s okay,” Carla said. “I’ll tell you about it on the way home.

“We’ll have to do this more often,” I said, slipping my shoes back on.

And next time I’m bringing my pillow.

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.

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