The routine begins on Monday evening around 7:30 when Ralph dials the Cinema Theater in downtown Rochester to listen to the recorded information about the coming weekend’s new double feature. This puts in play an automatic list of steps, including…
1. I check the Internet Movie Data Base ( http://www.imdb.com ) for a quick review of the story line and starring roles. I report the user ratings (10-point scale) and Roger Ebert’s take (1-4 stars) but do not read Ebert’s review unless it’s a totally unfamiliar and borderline-rated film.
2. On Thursday night, our friend Linda calls to check our intentions and/or exchange plans for meeting up on Friday. We have been going to the Cinema on Friday nights together for many years. There is no need to remember the starting time; it has always been 7:00. In Thursday’s newspaper, we have already checked the movie schedule and local critic Jack Garner’s ratings (1-10) to ensure that the two movies add up to at least 11 points. Occasionally the playbill is just not worthy.
3. No later than 6:50 p.m. we pay our $3.00 each (or less if we’ve bought a 10-ticket booklet), pick up a free copy of City Newspaper, buy a 2-pack of Brad’s Walnut Brownie cookies and a box of Junior Mints ($2.25 total), take our self-assigned seats on the aisle of row O, and greet the Cinema Cat. Once or twice a year, said cat will sit on my lap for the whole first movie, but usually it can at least be observed padding languidly up and down the aisles.
4. Between movies, I go to the back of the theater and stretch. Ralph buys a large Diet Coke and a large popcorn, $1.25 each with the right to a $.75 refill on each.
5. On the way out, around 11:00, we check the revised list of upcoming movies, noting with satisfaction what we can look forward to. We understand that this is a non-binding list, but it reflects the taste of the owner and reminds us that we don’t have to run out to see anything at the multiplex.
6. In the car, we rate each movie without prior discussion. Our ratings may be, but rarely are, revised based on the other person’s persuasive rationale.
7. Back at home, Ralph records the titles and ratings in his Spreadsheet of Life, and I write them in my journal. If there has been a wide discrepancy in our ratings, I now check Ebert’s review ( http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/ ) to see who was “right.”
8. We congratulate ourselves once again for our wise and frugal Date Night regime and calmly await Monday evening’s exciting revelation.
Thus pass the days of our lives.