I met Ronan outside the Savoy at half ten, and since Mark wasn’t answering his phone, we headed on in, giddily anticipating the epic to come. We signed the board proffered by a tall, ball and almost invisibly incidental marketing man, taking our seats in the darkened theatre.
Consumed by hunger, Ronan soon left for the confectionery counter, returning minutes later with an epic seven euro popcorn. It was too early for me to be eating solids, but I took some anyway, enjoying it all the more for being his. That sounds a little gay, ignore it.
Ronan said something like ’This is going to be deadly, I can’t wait to tell everyone in college’, his schadenfreude a bleak post-modern reflection of our inability to existentially inhabit extant reality. The lights dimmed, the film began, no trailers ruining this pure theatrical experience.
After a few minutes I felt the urge to speak, to punctuate on the action, and so I prepared some pithy commentary, gently barbing my cultured eloquence into an amusing, though enlightening, triviality. As I turned to impress upon Ronan my astute yet playful repartee, I noticed something truly horrible. He
was not merely picking his nose, but literally chewing the results.
Perhaps I should take a moment to describe our relationship. You see, technically, Ronan is my employee, though I admit we both part time, and for free. More than this, I think of him as almost family.
I’ve tried in my unassuming way to impart a little of the wisdom I’ve acquired through a hard life, and a long one. I’ve guided his hand in matters of finance, and his eye in matters of romance. Though I don’t like to say it, I’m sure in his own youthful way, he sees me as a kind of father.
I took a moment, levelling my gaze patiently to give him time to stop. ’Ronan’ I whispered, cognizant of the gentile etiquette of cinematic audience.
’Um?’, he replied inattentively, half focused on some epic thrust of Leonidas blade, half engrossed in the chewy substance between his lips.
’Your..’, I started, and paused. I couldn’t bring myself to say it. I couldn’t admit my son was knuckle deep in his own nostril mucus.’
’Your..Picking your nose!’.
He threw me a look which almost broke my paternal heart. It said, ’What have I done to displease you father!’ and yet ’I’m proud of my abhorrent habit.’
I looked back to the screen, sort of twitching one eye to blink out his silhouette, and found myself again distracted. One of those horribly jaded, forty something journo’s, the kind whose divorce has left sleeping on a converted sofa in a rented bedsit, and spazzing afternoons on liquid lunch research trips; was texting.
A recent phenomena, the cinema texter, midway between loud inappropriate belly laughter, and the date who wordlessly drinks your coke, for sheer obnoxious impertinence.
This particular man, likely responsible for the viewing decisions of at least a few hundred Dubliners, had a singularly powerful search lit screen, a dual use phone and emergency flare, which allowed him to simultaneously text and watch, watch and text, phone held out before him as if he were attempting to capture the worlds worst pirate movie.
I took another in a series of carcinogenically repressive deep breaths, vigorously jabbed Ronan in the ribs, and hooded my eyes from the flaming cellphone.
I felt sea sick, on one side a blinding flame, on t’other a Lovecraftian monstrosity of snot and fingers.
I needed to escape, and wrenched myself from the chair, and thrust out into the centre isle, wheezing for breath in the suddenly suffocating dark. As I shuffled blindly in search of an exist, ears filled with the thunder of three hundred Spartan swords, somehow my head intersected the bean from the tiny theatre’s projector.
’Christ’ I moaned, blinded by the retina branding incandescent beam. I stood frozen, beads of sweat leaking from my brow like curdled pain, as a chorus of grunts and moans joined the official soundtrack. The colours and the music, the moans and the fear. It was just like that time my friends had glued me naked to the leather drivers seat of an classic Bugatti, with a missing break peddle, torn off eyelids and a head full of high grade acid, and through the stinging bloody tears each car had looked like a great Norse ship with a living masthead, screaming and thrashing in bare chested fury.
Something rose before me, blocking the light, a great heavy set bearded type, epic in silhouette. A fat, balding Jesus.
’My Lord!’, I tried to say, but he intercepted my words with a humbling bitch slap. I turned to flee his glory. Turned toward the flexing, heaving homoeroticism of ancient Scotland. But before I could escape, the voice of my God boomed from behind me, as his brutal jackboot cleaved my vertebra. Oddly, he didn’t make the predictable dialogue reference. Instead yelling, ’Get the fuck!’, as his kick tore me from my feet, sent me careening toward the battlefield. I hit with epic force tearing through the silken screen, and falling, falling, falling, to land upon the soil of Sparta.
An elite Persian guard dived toward me, so I found a blade and hewed his bonce. Noting my bravery, the Spartan warriors accepted this odd pale warrior in their midst. We fought together night and day, defeated the Persians and returned victorious to Sparta, where Leonidas divorced his cheating beotch.