I have largely stopped going to movies because I can’t stand the crowds, especially the kids who holler at the screen. I am now dating a woman who counts going to a movie as a main hobby. How am I to manage this situation?—Robert
Unless you get migraines or are allergic to fun, you have to go to the movies with your girl. Enduring the various annoying-to-you aspects of the public world where you both live is something like paying a relationship tax, you know? Without it, we’d all be lying naked on a bed, holding half-full bags of crunchy Cheetos, waiting to be serviced.
So, there is that, but you’re absolutely right: What Sartre meant to say is that hell is other people at the movies. Talkers, seat-kickers, and texters abound, obviously. My friend Colin Geddes (who also happens to be an international programmer at TIFF) says that chatting during trailers is fair game—“I prefer not to, but I’m not going to ask someone to be quiet during the pre-show”—but when the movie starts, the collective experience begins. “I love it when people clap, cheer, laugh out loud, and are expressive about their enjoyment,” he says. “When I went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes last year, a guy in our cinema yelled, ‘Go, Caesar!’ during a key scene, and it was awesome, because he was so swept up in the film.” If you’re near someone who isn’t so much punctuating the film as live-reviewing it, though, swiftly and respectfully approach them. Geddes says, “Always try to be polite, like: ‘Excuse me, but would you mind….’ If that doesn’t work, then you escalate the tone to, ‘Will you please shut up!’”
Before you even go to the movies, you should tell your girlfriend that you might be inclined to get into it with someone. If you’re cool about it, then she won’t—or she shouldn’t—be embarrassed. Ideally, she’ll see that you’re making a necessary adult compromise just by being there, and are only asking someone else to do the same.
My girl and I need your advice on a matter of etiquette. Sometimes in the throes of a delicious meal, I might lick my fingers to savour the tastes. She says it’s rude. Is it okay, or no?—Dave
Yeeeecchhhh, no. The primary rule of law here is that there are only two occasions when licking your finger in a food situation is acceptable. The first is in a backyard, on a Saturday, in the sun, with friends who are tight enough to know your most hellishly intimate secrets. And in this particular scenario, all of you are thoroughly hung over and eating take-out fried chicken that arrived without any napkins, and you’re all lying sideways in the grass, enjoying the forbidden, filthy pleasure of licking salty grease off your gin-bloated fingertips, after which you never talk about it again. The second occasion is during chocolate-and-whipped-cream-oriented sexytimes, which I won’t get into.
The secondary rule of this law—called it, stamped it, no erasies—is that putting your wet, vile finger on your plate or even on the table to lift sauce or crumbs which you then put in your wet, horrible mouth, is, like, first-degree disgusting. (I’ve seen it! There was an old, rich business-guy who did it!) The third and final rule is that any table stuff that has the potential to make someone else enjoy their meal any less should be avoided, which includes not ordering charcuterie with a vegan, and not talking about sports, ever, with me. So, yeah. Your girl is right.
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