DOWN IN FRONT
“Where you Wanna Sit?”
THE MIDDLE SEAT: Column by Steve Matuszak
We have a lot of controversial ground to cover as we kick of the first article of this column by explaining the title – which is where I like to sit! And here’s why. I need to see the movie straight on. And that’s not just at the theatre. I will go for any seat in any living room that gives me the most centered view of a movie.
Plus, I don’t want people crawling over me or passing in front of me when they go back for more concessions or the bathroom. If you can’t hold it for two hours, stay at home – or, time your beverage intake better. It’s possible people! This goes back to an issue you will hear from me time and again – I do not want anything to distract me from the, if it’s a good film, “willing suspension of disbelief” that the movie and I have mutually created.
I never go the bathroom during a movie, even a bad one … ever! I also never get refills unless I have consumed it all during the trailers. Ever do that? I need to experience the film from frame one to end credits as a complete, uninterrupted thought.
On airplanes, at church and everywhere else, however, people tend to prefer the aisle. But on a plane, I am a window guy because I don’t want distractions there either like the flight attendants bumping my shoulder as they go by or people hitting me on head with luggage.
I think the aisle seat anywhere is a bit of a “non-commital” choice. And here’s why! First, it’s like hanging out in the kitchen at a party – you don’t want to really be committed to being fully at the party. It’s a social-psychology issue. People want to check out a party and, if it’s “no good,” feel as if they were never really “there” (which would equal sitting in the living room or any other room deeper in the home/apartment). Come on, who drifts to the kitchen at a party? And why? I know you are out there and have your reasons.
People who always want the aisle seat are usually looking for a quick way out before or at the end, whether it’s a movie or other experience. They want to get to their car quickly at the end of a concert or amusement park day – “I am not sitting in THAT traffic!” The aisle is more about prepping to leave than staying for the duration. Come on, who does it? Why?
Airplane-aisle-people want go to the bathroom easier and have more body room in addition to getting off the plane a little quicker. Either way, there are aisle people, and then there are window people. Which one are you? There are probably a few “middle seat on a plane” people. They should be watched closely and get an extra pat down in security.
And people tend to be territorial about where they sit for all types of events. This is true for places we visit frequently – a classroom, church, local movie theatre and such. People tend to go back to the same seat or same seating area of the room. I am territorial with my middle seat in theatres, but otherwise I like to mix it up in class or other places, just to see and experience things from a different vantage point (which, by the way, was a lousy film). Are you territorial or do you mix it up? Bring it!!! Here’s a litmus test for territoriality, you either get mad when you see people in “your (public) seat” or you believe that, since you shoveled it, the street parking space is yours (Chicagoans, you know what I mean).
Ok, I know what you are all thinking, “What about up front or in back?” Well, I like the middle OF the middle. But, if need be, I can crane my neck up and watch a movie from up front. I can also watch from the back if I must. I can improvise and go with the flow.
There are those who must sit up front and those who must sit in the back. I say the back-sitters are more obstinate. Which one are you? Hey back-sitters, whatever your reasons you need to hear this from someone who has spent a career onstage, especially in comedy and improvisation – MOVE UP! The live performing arts need your energy and we can’t feel it if you are all spread out and far away. For movies, it’s ok, but not for comedy. It’s says ”Hey, I am here to have fun through watching others get involved, but not me!” Life is what happens down on the field, not just in the stands – get in the game! All the world’s a stage.
I’m glad I got that off my chest. I’ve probably stirred a hornet’s nest so let’s get even more down and dirty. If the theatre has very few people, do not sit right in front of me! That’s creepy and rude. There are lots of empty seats. You should get a security pat down as well.
And what is this bizarre phenomenon known as the “guy seat?” I was introduced to this a few years back in Chicago by a male friend. When I sat next to him he said, “Dude … what are you doing?” “I am sitting down to watch the movie,” I innocently retorted. “No way man … can I have a guy seat please?” he exclaimed. He then explained how (some) men must have an empty seat between them and another man with whom they are viewing a film. Since when did touching shoulders become uncomfortable? Imagine these guys on a plane! Guys, do any of you demand the “guy seat?” Girls, you don’t care do you?
And movies for first dates can be difficult when you both enter the theatre and begin to “feel each other out” for where you like to sit. Relationships have ended on this potentially non-negotiable issue. How awkward when you discover you have very different preferences. Tell us your story. What about dating/marriages with different seat preference partners? How do you work it out? Do you wander around for a while?
And now there are theatres that charge more to choose your seat? Scam or convenience? And let’s not forget stadium seating. I will not even go to a movie theatre unless they have stadium seating, or at least a slight rake to the audience. Come on people – rake your theatres! All new Cineplexes tend to have stadium seating style. Wait, don’t tell me …. someone out there does not like stadium seating?? Why?? … Security! Pat down!!!
Yeah, there are a lot of side issues to this one issue, but let’s face it – people care about where they sit. So, if I have scratched an itch, poked a wound or walked on hallowed ground, then let me know! That’s what this column is about. I want to hear your comments and especially give you a chance to read each other’s comments. Agree, disagree or just tell a relevant story. You are all co-authors. (And yeah, I use lots of exclamation points and italics, deal with it!!!) So … sit wherever you like but, given the choice, I don’t want any angles and I want to sit, stay and watch right down the middle!