1) Make yourself invisible. I am not an anti-social hermit. I like people. I really do. I like people watching in long lines and I like packed theaters because of the ambiance it creates. However, for me to completely engage in a movie and reach maximum levels of movie-going enjoyment, there are several moments when I need to forget that you exist. I don't mind hearing you laugh as long as it is in appropriate moments and isn't too loud or obnoxious. I don't mind hearing you gasp if the movie warrants a gasp. I don't even mind hearing you cry softly or even sniffle- especially in movies like Marley and Me, but don't get carried away. (All I remember about I Am Sam is my friend Lori sobbing uncontrollably. It was funny because she's my friend and we all were crying but sobs are typically highly frowned upon. Sorry Lor) Basically, I want to forget that you are next to me. I need you to disappear. You're in your bubble. I'm in mine. We're all happy.
This becomes quite tricky though when you are forced to sit a few inches from me. In such a case, here are some guidelines for disappearing: Don't put your arm on our shared barrier. If the cupholder between you and your friend is available, don't you dare use the one between us. Don't cross your leg over into my space. Don't laugh louder or longer than everyone else. Don't even think about talking to the characters. And don't share opinions of the previews loudly enough so I hear them. By all means, form opinions on previews and share them with whomever you came with. This is one of my favorite parts about the movie-going experience. How can you see the trailer for The Roommate and not have a comment? However, these comments must be made at the volume of a hushed whisper as you lean into the receiver's bubble. I don't want to hear your comments unless I came with your or they are really funny.
3) Go to the bathroom BEFORE the movie so you don't have to climb over me. The space between rows is ridiculously tiny. Even for the thinnest of movie-goers, walking past someone sitting in a theater is going to be a struggle. It's not as bad as on a plane, but inevitably will cause a bit of awkwardness. So I recommend that we all take preventative measures and buy snacks and go pee before the movie. And know your bladder size. If it's not very large, please don't get the very large coke.
4) Climb over me with caution. There will be times when this awkward manuever is completely unavoidable. In my perfect world, it wouldn't happen because everyone would sit in the middle first and then fan their way out to the aisles, but I realize these expectations are unrealistic. So when you do have to put your butt or crotch just a few inches from my face, please proceed with caution. First, make me aware of your presence and give me a moment to move my purse and scootch back as far as possible. (I confess I didn't always follow this rule and I once kicked over a rather large lady's coke. She was not happy. I honestly thought I was going to get punched.) Then, after you've made your presence known, get by me in one step. No use prolonging this awkward dance with you baby-steppin past me. It's your call if you prefer to put your butt or crotch in my face. I personally face the victim so I can give the apologetic look while I scoot by and because I'm clumsy and fear that I'll lose my balance and end up sitting on their lap.