The Strand Theatre: An essay by Bella Beck

As soon as I walk through one of the four doors, the smell of freshly popped popcorn tickles my nose. I can almost feel it melting on my tongue. I can hardly keep my mind on the task of buying one of the color coded tickets while that smell is drugging me.

When I have finally managed to buy my ticket, and have safely stored it in my purse, I take a deep breath. It’s time to buy my snacks. I think about what kind of candy I will get, as I watch the popcorn pop in the big red machine, and wait in line.

When it is finally my turn to order, I don’t even allow the friendly person behind the counter to say, “Hello, what can I get for you?” and say in a voice that I swear isn’t mine, “One medium popcorn, with just a little bit of butter, one medium Sprite, and one of the large Sour Patch Kids.”

I think I will go mad, as I watch her slowly scoop the popcorn into the blue popcorn bag. It seems to take her ages, but at last she finishes, and moves on to fill a cup with ice and Sprite. Last of all, she slides open the case holding all the rainbow colored packages of candy, and pulls out one of the boxes of Sour Patch Kids.

She tells me how much I owe her, but I am so busy thinking about the slippery, buttery popcorn, ice cold Sprite, and rough Sour Patch Kids that I don’t even hear her. I just hand her a $20 bill and trust that she will give me the correct change.

After I have collected my change, I gather up all my food, turn left, walk about five steps, turn right, walk about six steps, turn left, and walk down a long hallway.

Both walls are filled with posters of upcoming movies. I can never concentrate on them before the movie because the butterflies in my tummy are so excited, they are threatening to take flight through my throat, unless I keep moving.

The hallway that I have to walk to the end of feels like every step I take increases the distance I have to go by two, and I’ll never get to the end. Of course, I do, but by now it feels as if I am no longer in control of my body.

Instead, the butterflies inside me are, and they are flying me toward one of the red, velvet seats. I turn right, and turn left one last time. I am at the door. Slowly, I pull it open.

The only way I know that the butterflies aren’t catapulting me to my seat, is by the feel of the hard, gray floor beneath my feet. I look around and find a chair to sit in.

The butterflies are still there, but they are more satisfied, once I have sat down.

I know this won’t last long, so I take full advantage of the time that they are settled. I enjoy the plush feeling of the soft velvet beneath my bottom, and behind my back. I relax into it.

I rub my hand along the empty seat next to me, and try not to think about the movie I am about to watch. If I start thinking about it, the butterflies will get riled up again.

I fail. I cannot help myself. I think about the trailer I watched 29 times—no I am not crazy; I just had to catch every little detail. I close my eyes, replay the trailer in my head, and fantasize one last time about how the director will stick to the book.

The butterflies are excited again. They are calling for just one piece of that warm, slippery, buttery popcorn. I decide to calm them, and give them one, which leads to another.

Of course now I have to taste one of the Sour Patch Kids. I love how they go from rough, sour taste, to a soft, sweet taste. Of course, now the burning sensation of thirst is in my throat, so I have to have a sip of my ice cold Sprite. I feel the bubbles explode down my throat, extinguishing the fire. I smile.

The room goes dark, and the movie starts. The first time I watch a movie, I get so wrapped up in it; I can’t pay attention to the details. This frustrates me, because details are something that I like. I try to stay out of the brightly colored images as they dance, float, and stumble across the screen, but I fail miserably, and get wrapped in as always.

When the movie is over; my popcorn, Sour Patch Kids, and Sprite are in my satisfied tummy; and my brain is buzzing with the one question I almost always have after I see a movie: when will it come out on DVD?

I stand up on my wobbly legs and attempt to walk normally out of the theatre. I throw out my trash, turn right, turn left, and am back in the hallway of the future. I look at every poster for a very long time and take every little detail of each and every one of them in.

When I have reached the end of the hallway, I turn right, walk about six steps, turn left, and walk to the doors. I push one of the four open, walk through it, and take a deep breath.

As I walk away I think about the movie I just saw, and how blessed a little town like Old Forge is to have a movie theatre like the Strand.

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