There is one thing my wife is never late for: movies. She is convinced there will be traffic, no place to park, and it will be sold out. None of this is ever true, yet we leave early and end up sitting in a totally empty theater, with a huge bag of popcorn, looking at commercials for 20 minutes, waiting for the previews — which Mary Ellen loves.
I hate previews. I can’t give you one logical explanation why. I dislike them so much that I sometimes sneak into a different movie and watch for a few minutes while I wait for our film to begin. Mary Ellen thinks that’s like a preview. Sorry, not the same.
This past week, my wife and son wanted to see “The Hobbit” at 5 p.m. At 4 p.m., Mary Ellen announced she and Brett were leaving early to ensure they got a good seat, but I wasn’t falling for it.
“It’s a Thursday afternoon. No one will be there, so you go ahead,” I told them. “I’ll meet you there. Keep your cellphone on, and you can text me what row you are sitting in.”
“One ticket for ‘The Hobbit,’ please, the 5 o’clock show,” I told the ticket seller when I arrived at exactly 5:10 p.m. I had timed this perfectly. No wait until the feature started.
“There’s no Hobbit at 5 p.m.,” said the young man, “but we have a 5:30 in 3-D.”
I couldn’t believe Mary Ellen messed up the times. Oh, well. I grabbed my 3-D glasses and walked into the theater. It was a packed house, so I didn’t see her. I sent a text.
“Where r u guys?”
“Eighth row, dead center. Where r u?”
“I don’t c u.”
“Meet me at the snack bar,” Mary Ellen said.
I waited by the popcorn machine. Another text from Mary Ellen. “Glendale theater lobby not that big. Where are you?”
“I am at United Artists on 96th Street, where we usually go.” (I would have added OMG, but I am 65 years old.)
This was the biggest mix-up in our marriage since our wedding day in Chicago in 1980. I was at the Ambassador East Hotel having a few drinks before the ceremony. But where was everybody else? At the Ambassador West, that’s where. I should have read the invitation more carefully.
I went back inside the theater and sat down. By this time, the movie had already started, so it took me about five minutes to realize I had absolutely no idea what was going on in the story. Usually I lean over and ask my wife or son to explain stuff, but I couldn’t because they were … well, you know. Even though it is frowned upon, I texted Brett.
“I’m confused. Who’s shorter, the dwarves or the elves?” I kept peppering him with questions about Gollum, Thorin, Bilbo and Gandalf. I wasn’t sure who to root for in the battle scenes.
When we all met at home a few hours later, they made fun of me. They said that going to the wrong theater was proof that I was spacier and more absent-minded than ever.
Of course, I vehemently denied it. At which point, Mary Ellen told me that now was probably a good time to take off my 3-D glasses.
Television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal.