Opinion: Always dread the popcorn moment

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My wife Mary Ellen and I went to see a movie last week with our friends Bob and Cathy.

 “Are you going to get popcorn again, Mary Ellen?” I asked.

 “I have to. It’s been a movie tradition for me since high school.”

 “So was necking in the balcony, but you cut that out completely after we got married.”

 Once we reached the theater, the tension rose.

 “Dick, I’ll find seats for the four of us,” Mary Ellen said. “You wait in line for the popcorn.”

“Why do I have to wait in line? I don’t even like popcorn. And when I come into the movie theater, you’ll forget to look around for me. Then I walk aimlessly up and down the aisles while people stare at me. Everyone assumes I’m all alone and have no one to sit with. Or I’ll wave my cellphone flashlight to get your attention and all three of you slump down in your seats while you laugh hysterically. At the Tom Cruise movie I never found where you guys were sitting, but I did get my 10,000 steps in searching for you.”

Of course, I do wait in line and buy the popcorn as directed. It drives me crazy that you pay about six bucks for a bucket of air. What a rip-off. And I don’t let my wife forget it

“Did you know, Mary Ellen, that when I was a kid, popcorn in the theater was only a quarter?”

 “Yes, and here’s another update — the actors in films are talking now.”

And then there’s eating the popcorn. Mary Ellen takes one piece from the top of the box with two fingers, then bites off half at a time. Yes, two bites per kernel. She claims this helps her rhythm and draws her into the movie. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch my wife’s arm go down to the box, up to her mouth. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. For two hours. Ahhhhh!

She pretty much follows a similar routine at home. After we have searched for a good flick or series on Netflix, Mary Ellen is at the stove to make popcorn the old-fashioned way. Just oil and popcorn in a pot, which she meticulously jiggles at the right speed, so every kernel is popped. The movie starts and the routine begins — one piece at a time, every 10 seconds, for the entire show. About 500 times. If she preferred M&Ms, she’d weigh 400 pounds.

Here’s the right way to eat popcorn in a movie. Dig way down into the container, which spews the popcorn all over the person in the seat next to you. Take an entire handful, shake the kernels in your fist like a pair of dice and throw several into your mouth at one time. Then while still chewing, reload and prepare to fire again. This is how Orville Redenbacher wanted you to do it. You could look it up. Heaven knows why there aren’t instructions on the popcorn box.

The next day her fitness trainer, Justin, asked her if she had been doing her upper body exercises.

“Yes, I did them for three hours last night,” she said. “When we went to see ‘Oppenheimer”’at the movies.”


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