The Other Boats

Matt and I went to the movies last weekend. I think that is the fourth time I have seen a movie in a theater since the beginning of the pandemic. I can’t blame Covid for that, entirely. I’ve reached that age where I can’t go that long without my bladder bursting, and I need a “pause” button so I don’t get confused. There was a time, however, when going to the movies was my favorite thing on the earth, and I got a tad nostalgic about it. I bought popcorn and a soda and I brought a blanket (because even though it is August, the frosty air conditioning makes me risk tearing nipple-sized holes in my tops) and I got comfy in my “luxury” reclining theater seat.

About an hour into the movie, a couple walked into the theater with their iPhone flashlights ripping holes in the dark. They stopped at our aisle and lit up our faces to tell us we were in their seats. We told them the movie started an hour ago and asked them to double-check the theater number for their showing. The dude seemed to take that under advisement, but the chick wasn’t having it. She told me to get out of her seat. I took the guy’s phone from him and pointed at the theater number on the electronic ticket, proving they were in the wrong theater. They left after that. The whole exchange lasted 90 seconds or so. I was annoyed but it was an honest (if dumb) mistake and I settled back in. I had just managed to reemerge myself in the story when I felt a tiny bonk on my lap. I brushed my hand over my blanket looking for what had hit me, but it was gone. A few minutes went by and then I felt another bonk. Then I knew it wasn’t a one-off; someone was throwing shit in the dark. I saw a little black dot cut across the screen and drop down in front of me hitting someone else. By the trajectory, I could tell the dick weasel who threw it was directly behind me, but there was no way to gauge what row they were in. I picked up my drink to take a sip of my soda and there was a bonk on my head. I had to fight the impulse to throw my soda up and back and just hope I hit the perpetrator, but that seemed like a long shot. I swore under my breath and Matt looked over, but I didn’t explain. The next time I was struck I considered standing up and yelling, but I didn’t want to ruin the movie for everyone. In the end, I just sat there stewing in anger and waiting for the movie to end.

Once it was over, I got up and looked around, but people were already streaming out, and again, there was simply no way to know who it was. Then I checked the floor around my seat. Gummy bears. Some asshat git-tard spent $15 to see a movie in the theater and throw gummy bears (which, if he bought them in the lobby, cost approximately $1 each) through the last twenty minutes of the show. Why? I was bewildered. It reminded me of the time I returned to my car after a bike ride in the canyons to find my tires had been slashed and my first thought was, “What is the point of that? That wouldn’t even make a satisfying ‘smash’ sound!”

We left the theater and I was so angry that when we got to the car I threw what was left of my soda as hard as I could, scattering ice in the parking lot. Matt gave me a hug which made me cry. “I spend so much time and energy trying to take up as little space as possible,” I said through my tears, as we got in the car, “because I don’t want to upset or disturb anyone, ever. And some people walk around intentionally harming people, for fun. What the actual fuck is that about?”

I’ve been trying to work on this tendency of mine and give myself permission to take up space, and it hasn’t been easy. I think that is why I liked that yoga class so much – the one I wrote about last week, with the monk who finds himself raging at the empty boat that had bumped into him on the lake – because I think I often ascribe intention where there is none. But you know what? Sometimes there is someone in the other boat. Sometimes people act with more than intention: sometimes they act with malice. There are people who would row out to the middle of a lake just to ruin a stranger’s day. Sometimes, there is a douche in that canoe.

I have calmed down now, but I’m not embarrassed that I got angry. Some human-shaped-shit-smear pelted me and the people around me (though somehow missed Matt every time) with candy for twenty minutes, using my need to preserve the fun of everyone else in the theater as leverage to keep me silent, just taking it, and they got their incomprehensible jollies off of it. Of course, I got angry!

However, I AM embarrassed about my last blog post. That is what I keep thinking about since leaving the movie. I thought I had this sweet little epiphany in the safety of a yoga studio, where everyone is on their best behavior and saying “namaste” in unison. I really want the boat to be empty; I want to live in a world where that boat is empty. But it often isn’t, and I feel like I was gaslighting myself by saying otherwise.

So, this is a follow-up to say, “Never mind.” The lesson isn’t, “Don’t get angry because no one means you any harm.” The lesson is, “Check the boat first, and if there is some fuck-wad ramming you with a smirk on their shitty face as they do it, take your oar and slap that bitch right into the lake.”

I probably shouldn’t be condoning violence, but hey. I never claimed to be a monk.

About Rachel Lewis

I am a writer, ceramic artist, knitter, and stepmom. As a playwright, I had six short plays produced in showcases and festivals in Manhattan, Salt Lake City, and Austin. My full-length play, Locking Doors, was presented by Wordsmith Theatre Company in The New Lab Theatre (University of Utah) in 2005. I co-wrote a teleplay titled “Thank God I’m Atheist” which won the 2015 “No God But Funny” contest founded by the Center for Inquiry. My short nonfiction essay, “It’s Coming Down,” was published by the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. My essay "The Red Rock Chronicles" was published in Contemporary West magazine. I currently work in pharmaceuticals professionally and write recreationally, but dream of making the transition to write professionally and do pharmaceuticals recreationally. I am a Utah native and live in Salt Lake City with my family and our Goldendoodle. I am working on a collection of humorous non-fiction essays and a second full-length play. Follow me at: @rachel_lewis_ut (Twitter) @rachel_lewis_ut (Instagram)

2 responses to “The Other Boats

  1. Hannah

    Ahaha now that’s a motto I can live by!
    I’m sorry you had to deal with that idiot ruining things for other people. Did you at least enjoy the movie?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 122 other subscribers

Recent Comments

Gina Weaver on The Elephant’s New Clothes
Gina Weaver on Sweetums
Gina Weaver on Great Expectations
Sarah Bentley on Great Expectations
Rachel Lewis on The Other Boats