2004-06-28, 9:02 p.m.
As I'm sure you know, Fahrenheit 9/11 opened to sold out crowds this weekend. My friend Bella's mother and brother were driving in from out of town to go see it with her and I offered to go pick up the tickets she reserved since the theater's in my part of town and I was going to meet her in her part of town and thought I'd save her the trip. Well, I didn't really quite grasp the all-shows-selling-out-in-advance issue, and I failed to check to see what the start times were that afternoon and I got caught in huge huge line of people trying to go to the 1:45 p.m. show and took so long I messed up my and Bella's plans for lunch. And could not find a pay phone to save my life so I could call her and tell her what the delay was. And I got to experience all the stress of trying to attend a sold-out movie without getting to see the movie. I definitely want to see it but plan to wait till the crowds are smaller. Now, I was quite curious to see what the crowds would be like. Who are these people lining up to see this on opening weekend? I imagined (hoped) that I would witness a line that would remind me of the scene in Annie Hall where Alvy and Annie are waiting in line to see The Sorrow and The Pity and the film professor behind them just drones on and on about what an incredibly indulgent film-maker Fellini is and pontificates about other film-makers he doesn't like and at some point they are all directly addressing the camera... Anyhow, I was hoping for that - a line full of people debating Michael Moore's politics and whether this film was a true documentary, etc. But it was really just like any line at a sold-out summer movie, but with a lot less children. Well, there was one couple that was an exception. A boy and girl who were wearing Ché-Guevara-styled berets. Vive le revolution! Vive le medium-sized popcorn and Frozen Coke with free Skittles combo!
This weekend I also ended up eating at a restaurant within a hotel that happened to have a fire alarm go off while I was there. As we were all shuffling outside, I remembered, though I haven't thought of it for years, that in my junior year at college, our dorm went through a few weeks where we had a fire alarm set off like twice a night every night. By people starting fires in the garbage chutes. Anyhow, just outside the lobby, there were a few sourpusses in the crowd, but mostly everyone was pretty friendly and understanding. I did wonder about the people who came outside with bare feet. Did they (a) figure that there wasn't really a fire and therefore that they wouldn't have to step off the sidewalk just outside the hotel door; or the opposite: (b) that the alarm was indeed all too real and very serious and that they should immediately make their way to the exit without taking the time to put on shoes? I wish I had taken a survey and asked them. Oh, and fire trucks came. With real firemen! Mmm, firemen. And they hustled out of that truck! Which was funny to me because by then I had determined in my own head that it was only a prank, which I think it was. It was nice to see my potential rescuers hurrying though. Also, the woman's recorded voice on the alarm system directing everyone to leave the building creeped me out. It was like in a sci-fi movie, with that lilting everyone-remain-calm but commanding leave-right-now-by-Orwellian-order tone. But back to the crowd... there was something -- I don't want to be melodramatic and say "beautiful" but I don't have another word that fits -- about a group of people who were all strangers brought together by this strange and unexpected event, everyone checking to be sure everyone else is okay. I wonder if everyone was extra friendly and polite the next morning at the buffet breakfast. Or if the comraderie wore off by then and it was back to the usual.