Al Batt: Do you put on shoes and socks or socks and shoes to eat popcorn?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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It’s good to shake the cobwebs off occasionally.

Al Batt

I hadn’t seen a movie in a theater for many years. I’d heard they were making talkies now.

Movies have loomed large in my life. I enjoy motion pictures. I’ve been blessed. I can amuse myself by watching someone change a flat tire. That leads to an expansion of my vocabulary, but movies are a higher level of entertainment. I have a fondness for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Young Frankenstein,” any Pink Panther movie, ”The Big Lebowski,” “Groundhog Day,” “The Big Chill” and many others. When I lived in the Twin Cities, there were theater showings of old movies at a cost reasonable enough I had to see them. I watched Mel Jass on TV (Channel 11) and his “Mel’s Matinee Movie.” The movies weren’t the greatest and a large percentage of them involved Tarzan swinging on a vine as a kookaburra laughed. Tarzan lived in Africa. Kookaburras don’t live in Africa. The birds live in Australia, but their calls sounded right for Tarzan’s jungle. The commercials were endless and Jass had a pitchman’s style he described as aggressive humility. He asked wives what their husbands did for a living. Even if the answer was, “He picks fly specks out of pepper,” Mel always replied, “He’s got a good job!” I couldn’t stop watching because there were movies.

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No kookaburras laughed as the music swelled until I’d decided to see a movie. I didn’t need to bring the matter before the committee as my wife had suggested we see a movie.

I needed to be presentable as I sat in the glow of a cinematic screen. I know a cowboy puts his hat on first, but do you put a sock and a shoe on one foot before moving to your other foot? That way, you can honestly say, “Now the shoe is on the other foot.” I put on my socks and then my shoes. I do that because I can’t get my socks over my shoes. Putting on shoes and socks is part of my daily commute. When I put on shoes and socks, anything could happen and it usually does.

I’d stopped going to the movies for secret reasons. I can’t eat an entire box of popcorn, not even a small one, and the painful loudness of the movie trailers. I reckon those are no longer secret reasons.

A friend told me I’d like the movie “A Man Called Otto” starring Tom Hanks. The friend is one of those guys. If you’re sitting in a café and he comes in with a deck of cards and bets you $20 he can make the ace of diamonds jump from the deck and hit you in the nose, expect to be whacked in the nose by a playing card. When he said

I’d like the movie, I believed him.

Another friend gave me the book that movie was based on, “A Man Called Ove.” I don’t mind reading the book before seeing a movie or watching the movie before reading the book. Neither spoils the other for me. Good is good.

I took my seat with trepidation as I remembered being glued to my theater seat for three days as a kid because of melted Milk Duds. I discovered my seat reclined and had a cupholder. That was why the concession stand sold blankets as not everyone in a recliner stays awake during a movie. The rows were spaced far enough apart that no one blocked the screen on their way to the bathroom. In the past, such actions allowed me to think several unpleasant thoughts: “You make a better door than a window,” “You’re a pain but not a window” or “Polecats aren’t invisible.” Those arrows remained unthought in my quiver.

Otto (Ove in the book) was an annoyingly amusing man who expected the worst from people and was never surprised. The book was wonderful and the movie was too.

Both were more than good enough for the likes of me. I expected they would be.

My feet and my socks stayed up as I laughed and cried at the theater, but I couldn’t finish my small box of popcorn.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.