Friday, August 3, 2007

Defeated by the Movie Theatre: a Story about Buttered Popcorn

Ever since I was little I was bummed out by movie theatres' stale, flavorless popcorn, which always became inevitable 15 minutes into each movie. After I devoured the top portion of my bucket o' 'corn, I'd reach down and grab tiny morsels devoid of any salt or butter. Lazy as fuck, I would never go back to the counter and ask for more butter, and I just sucked it up. But we were usually talking about 75 percent of the remaining popcorn here, and well, I just couldn't accept this as normal behavior. First world problems, I know, but hey, this is America, right?

However, I soon found a loophole that changed my movie-going experience forever. Once the theatres started issuing those "do-it-yourself" butter stations, I achieved unparalleled victory over the flavorless brigade. Using my sharp, almost-primate-like wisdom, I developed a tactic that forever allowed me to have flavorful popcorn, right down to the soggy bottom pieces that would eventually give me a nauseating stomach ache under an hour later.

Having full operation of the "butter station," which is what we will call it, I would take an extra straw from the concession stand, and jab it into the popcorn bucket. Sticking out ever so slightly, I would tuck the top of the straw into the nipple of the button dispenser, and gently soak the lonely and dry bottom pieces in a fiery orgasm of a gooey buttery mess.

I would do this four or five times, making sure to hit all curves and layers of the bucket. As I would raise the straw with butter flowing freely, I would flood the middle portion, leaving me with a fully buttered popcorn bucket and smiles galore.

One time in Woburn, a woman behind me saw what I was up to, and copied my routine, much to the delight of her children. I almost approached her, demanding attribution in front of her rug rat children, but decided that I could not keep this Secret Trade to myself forever, and would let her children enjoy the myriad benefits of fully-buttered popcorn. I can, at times but not often, be very altruistic.

However, my years-long victory over the De-splendor Vendors ended abruptly yesterday at the Regal Fenway Theatre. Now, I'd expect nothing less from the theatre chain that will be integrating "call controls," in which selected Gold Club members can rat out talkers, bad sound or intrusive cell phones to management by clicking a joystick-like device.

But this latest maneuver just crosses the line. When I placed my popcorn on the tray yesterday afternoon, I noticed the nipple was gone. Butter now poured out of a tiny, pin-sized hole underneath a squared metal box, making it impossible for me to tuck the straw perfectly into the dispenser. I tried, and ended up with butter all over my hands as I dropped to my knees, cursing the sky and damning the Nazis behind this sudden change in buttered philosophy.

Perhaps they became privy to my ways. Perhaps the mother from years past ratted me out, or took upon Operation Butter Bottom with such little care for its privacy everyone took notice, from Lowes to Regal to AMC to Cinemark to the dilapidated, ghetto-ass "How's that shit still in business?" theatre near Alewife. Regardless, the game was up.

Shaken, I soon arrived at my seat, and after 15 minutes terrible memories of my bland, palate-ally ignored childhood came flooding back.

Disgusted, I tossed the $7 bucket of popcorn on the floor; hardly eaten, hardly served.

c.2007 Michael Marotta / Vanyaland