Cruiseing at the Southdale Mall Cineplex

The theater smelled like an unkempt nursing home, as if a bomb filled with baby powder and mothballs had exploded. This stench of elderly lady perfume, sprayed until the owner’s dulled senses could recognize its presence, burned my nostrils, causing my left eye to blink involuntarily. I gulped a mouthful of air and exhaled slowly, trying to breathe while bypassing my sense of smell completely.The woman in the row in front of me, so old that vultures had likely followed her to the theater entrance, turned to her equally ancient husband and shouted in his ear.”This is a Tom Cruise movie!” she barked at him, phrasing the statement like a question.”What?” he shouted back, his eyes rolling back into his head as if he’d been unconscious for the past several minutes.”This is a Tom Cruise movie!” the woman shouted again.”Okay,” he said, clearly too deaf to understand a word she was saying.”I like him,” she continued, “He gets me riled up.”Her husband didn’t respond, as he was already asleep again in his seat, snoring quietly.Behind me, an old man with a birthmark the size of a quarter on his face shouted that the theater was too cold. After a moment of silence, during which it became clear that no strangers would be engaging him in this conversation, he shouted it again, this time adding the word “damn” for shock value. The silence continued.An old woman across the theater sneezed, the pure force of the act thrusting her back in her chair like the guy from the Maxwell audio commercials. She lay motionless in her seat, likely deceased.My father, 65 years old, sat to one side of me, frowning at the idea of leaving his comfortable home to sit in a crowded theater with a bunch of obnoxious strangers who would likely make noises or annoy him in some cell phone-related manner. My mother, 63 years old, sat on the other side of me, giddy that she was able to get two members of the family to leave the house for a social function of some sort, even if that social function was one that required all of us to remain silent for the majority of the event.”I think there will be explosions in this film,” said my dad. “So it should be watchable.””Is it rated R?” I retorted. “I’m only here because I suspect this film may include hooters.”My mother ignored these comments, knowing well that if she tried to persuade us from talking about such things, it would only cause us to delve into the subjects deeper. “Tom Cruise will likely be topless at some point,” my father said. “You’d probably like that, since you live in California now.””I’d prefer if he were fed into a wood chipper within the first five minutes of the film,” I said. “Tom Cruise is a useless dickbag.”The elderly woman in front of us turned and glared, clearly upset that I had insulted the only movie star her senile age group approved of anymore. All the rest of the stars popular with elderly Caucasians have either died, retired, or been shunned by the elderly after growing untraditional facial hair or sporting a tattoo.”It’s so nice having us all doing something together,” my mom said, patting my knee. I cursed my decision to not get malted milk balls, knowing that I could have easily put three or four into the sleeping man’s open mouth without him noticing.The lights lowered and the standard Dolby Surround Sound ad began. All 50 or so old people in the theater shrieked in pain at the volume and spent the next 10 minutes angrily discussing with their companions how “this isn’t a rock concert” and “I feel vibrations in my seat. Something is malfunctioning in the theater.” Forty-seven minutes later, the previews and advertisements ended and the movie began. A few idiots applauded when Cruise was introduced on the screen. Later, the entire crowd cheered when the aging Cruise got into a fight with five younger men outside a bar and beat the living bejeezus out of all of them, despite him being a middle-aged midget with no discernible fighting ability.My father and I began listing all the inaccuracies in the film that couldn’t possibly happen in real life. The thin wall Cruise took cover behind, which the bad guys could have easily shot through. The impossibly good shots the half-blind old man was making with the sniper rifle from 900 yards away. The evil henchman that Cruise fought bare-fisted, despite being at least a foot too short to reach the henchman’s face in real life.”Shhhhh! Nobody cares!” said my mom.When the film finally ended in a predictable way, with Cruise beating everyone to death but only getting a few scratches himself—enough to lightly bleed in a sexy manner—the lights came up. The theater smelled as though 40 percent of the crowd had died or pooped themselves during the film.”Oh God!” said the young employee entering the theater to clean. “I hate Tom Cruise movies!””At least they don’t like Val Kilmer,” I said, comforting the poor kid. “At least they don’t like Val Kilmer.””Who the hell is Val Kilmer?” said the kid.I sighed.”Shut up,” I said. “This theater is too damn cold.”