Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Book Light Lady

Roger had a post a few weeks ago about about going to see Ant-Man that made me think about my experience going to see the movie. I didn't talk about it a ton because of my usual mid-summer depression, but I had a nice time. We don't make it into movie theaters very often anymore because of our financial situation--in fact, we've only done it twice this year, both Marvel movies, The Marvel movies have become my Star Wars now, so those are the movies I make sure to save up for so we can go out and see them. They're events for me, and Ant-Man came out on my birthday, so it was perfect timing.

I really liked the movie, but I especially liked the whole experience of going to see it. Because of my anxiety, I do get a little skittish inside the theater, particularly when waiting for the show to start, as I feel the people pressing around me. Hard to breathe. And we have to go to matinees, which is fine with me; I'm much more a Sunday afternoon moviegoer than a crowded Friday night moviegoer. Our local place had a show at 10 on Sunday morning, and even though it was in 3-D, we went for it. I knew there'd be very few people there. We got to go out for breakfast beforehand and had a nice time.

I was right: there were only about 8 other people in the theater. But one of them was the Book Light Lady.

The Book Light Lady has become a sort of touchstone for me at the theater. I started seeing her after we moved here, back in 2001. She's an elderly woman with white hair, and before the preview/commercial program begins, she's always sitting in her seat, reading a novel with one of those clip-on book lights. Back in 2001, I had a lot more disposable income, and we went to the movies a lot more often. And what was really surprising to me was that I mostly saw her in genre movies.

That was a weird time when I was 25 and just starting at Northern Illinois University. I was sort of in that "Well, I guess I have to grow up now" mindset, aided by the way certain people who are related to me tended to make me feel like they were embarrassed by the 25 year-old who collected Disney movies and Muppet action figures and Star Wars stuff. But there, framed by the glow of a book light, was a woman older than my mother who was going to see every genre movie I did and clearly enjoying herself. That just made me feel great. I think most genre fans go through that moment where they feel like maybe growing up means leaving all of that stuff behind. The Book Light Lady, as we came to call her, made me realize that no, I didn't. I could incorporate that into being an actual adult.

(Of course, the mental illness and survivor guilt trauma have really thrown that into a detour, but... I'm getting help for that.)

One time, after leaving the first showing of The Two Towers, I saw her getting into her car: a Volkswagen Beetle with a license plate that was the name of an LOTR character. That was amazing.

I've never said hi to her or anything. She's just been a reassuring presence. I still remember how she laughed when Orlando Bloom stood nude almost to his pubes in Troy and Becca literally screamed "No!" I still remember how she and Becca were the only ones who quickly got it in Shrek 2 when Puss-in-Boots goes all Garfield and sighs "I hate Mondays" and both laughed. I'm always glad to see her, and over the years, even though we don't go so often, I still occasionally see her at those weekend showings of genre movies. If I don't see her, I worry. I don't know if I saw her at anything last year, but we don't always get to that same theater when we do go to the show; last year, we were much more fond of going out to Geneva and seeing a movie there because we could make it a treat day and go to Five Guys. (We don't have one in DeKalb.) Haven't been there in 2015... Damn, I'm suddenly hungry.

But the weekend of my birthday, when we walked into the theater to see Ant-Man and there she was, book light on and reading, it helped to make my birthday shine. The Book Light Lady is alive and well and seemed to really enjoy Ant-Man as much as I did. I had a nice birthday, but one of the highlights was just seeing a movie with her and knowing she's still getting out to the movies.

(Incidentally, Roger says he hasn't seen a Marvel movie in three years. I hope he catches up, because Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy are pretty amazing. Guardians of the Galaxy in on Encore a lot these days, and it's quickly becoming one of my all time faves. If you have to see just one, see that one. But really, see both. But also, see all of them. But especially Guardians of the Galaxy. End fan mode.)


Pat O'Connor said...

Maybe book light lady has noticed you. I have never seen her but you've made me like her.

SamuraiFrog said...

That's nice of you to say.

Roger Owen Green said...

Yeah, I really want to see the 1st Avengers film, which I've actually taken out of the library and not had time to see it in the way it needs to be watched, which is to say, all in one sitting.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

That story made my day.