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Fred was telling me about a movie he went to last weekend. He got inside and after his eyes adjusted, he spotted a seat halfway up with vacant ones all around. “I don’t like to be too close or too far away,” he told me. I didn’t ask what reasoning went into that game plan.

He sat there watching the previews. “You know something else?” he said. “There are too many previews these days. Two or three is plenty.”

“Uh huh,” I said through a yawn.

Unlike Fred, I actually like the previews. It’s the commercials I can’t stand. If the theatre is going to make us watch commercials they should pass out remotes when you walk in.

Fred sat there, suffering the previews, when he heard some annoying rustling to his right. He looked over where he saw a couple. In the man’s lap, according to Fred, was a trash bag full of popcorn. “He obviously smuggled it in,” Fred said.

“How do you smuggle in a garbage bag full of popcorn?” I asked. Fred told me that every time the man dug down for another handful, the annoying sound filled the air. “It’s agonizing,” he said.

So he looked around for another seat. But not seeing anything to his liking, he got up and walked over to the noisy eater. “Excuse me,” he began. “You are making a lot of noise with that bag. It’s very distracting.”

“What?” said the man, who seemed a little annoyed.

“It’s just that I’m five seats away and it’s very loud. It must really be bad to the people in front of you.” With that, as if on cue, a woman right in front of them turned around and said, “Yes it is.” Vindicated through confirmation, Fred went back to his seat. He said that 10 minutes went by without a sound, then 15, then 20. “The guy wasn’t moving,” Fred said. Then, however, it started again, and finally got so bad that Fred got back up and walked back over to the guy.

“You have to remember,” Fred told me. “He was eating from a huge bag that could easily last through a double feature. I had to say something.”

“I’m sorry,” he told the guy again, “but the noise is too much.” Fred said the woman in the next row turned around again and agreed. Fred asked the man if he would mind moving to the seat at the end of the row. “Why don’t you move over there?” came the response. At an impasse, Fred went back to his seat, where he watched the rest of the movie.

When it ended Fred walked into the restroom. He said all the stalls were full and there was one guy waiting. When it was Fred’s turn he walked into the stall at the end of the bathroom, which was handicap accessible. When he came out there was a man there in a wheelchair, scowling up at him. “He was staring at me and I could see he wasn’t too happy, and he was kind of positioned where I was blocked in. Then he started screaming at me.”

“No way,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” said Fred.

“WHAT IS YOUR AFFLICTION?” The man in the wheelchair screamed.

“No way,” I said again.

Fred said he tried to apologize but the guy kept screaming at him, “WHAT IS YOUR AFFLICTION! WHAT IS YOUR AFFLICTION!

“You should have told him it was loud popcorn eaters,” I offered.

Fred pushed his way by the irate man and through the gathering crowd. He said he finally made it to the safety of his car, which, thankfully, wasn’t parked in a handicapped space.

Jay Edwards is a freelance columnist who can be reached at chips7591@gmail.com.

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