In the days long before the virus came and changed life in America, whenever I was about to have a pre-arranged procedure at the hospital, I usually liked to take in one last movie at a local theatre—hopefully a good one too. But, with the way things are now, I was pretty sure that, at this time, the pictures wouldn’t be up and running anytime soon.
Still, like I instinctually do every week, I was looking online a few days ago to see if any local movie houses were finally open for business, like the Winchester Drive-In, as the filmic desire to get out of the house and see a projected flick started to become more of a cinematic need than an entertaining want.
Scanning down the barren webpage, I came across showtimes a seemingly new place—one that I had never heard of, at least—that was located in the ass-end of Edmond called Showbiz Cinemas, 3001 Market St. And while I usually try to avoid that area at all costs, this particular week they were showing one of my más querido flicks, Selena starring Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos.
That’s a movie I’d risk possible Covid defilement for.
After a seemingly long drive to Showbiz—one that necessitated Google Maps for directions, natch— as we pulled in to the somewhat empty parking lot, I started to wonder if they were even open. Armed with protective masks covering our soft and supple faces, my ladyfriend and I bravely ventured in to this unspoiled cinematic experience, one that came complete with a bowling alley for reasons that escape me.
It looks far more massive on the inside than the outside, an arcade on the left and a cafeteria-style snack bar on the right. As I heard the sounds of strikes being made in the bowling alley behind the bar, I purchased our tickets—at the amazing price of five dollars each—and a large popcorn and two large drinks, with no refills, for a far less impressive price.
It was a Saturday night and, with the exception of a family or two over in the lanes, this theatre was ultimately dead, even the arcade which resembled the killing floor of a Dave and Buster’s. An employee working concessions was leaning and definitely not cleaning, as a couple of kids over in the café were feverishly flirting with each other.
We made our way down the epic hall of auditoriums that resembled a spaceport from a stylish 1960’s sci-fi paperback cover, as the other houses were screening classic films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. And while any other day of the week those flicks would have been fine, tonight it was “anything for Selenas.”
The theatre showing Selena was a social distancer’s dream, with almost too much room between rows, every reclining seat having a small elementary school desk attached to the front of it for drinks, popcorn and standardized tests; speaking of snacks, my ladyfriend introduced me to the cinnamon-drenched treat of Hot Tamales dumped into a full bag of popcorn. To Hell with Milk Duds and Junior Mints, I say!
In this private screening for just the two of us, the magic and music of la Reina de Tejano entertained and enthralled for two hours, eliciting multiple toe-tappings and definite heart-thumpings, at least in our lonely row. If this were my last movie, I reckoned as the credits rolled and faded to black, I could die a fulfilled man.
When we left the theatre, it was just as desolate as when we came in, if not more. The lights were low and the games turned off, the concession stand closed and the soda nozzles long gone. As we walked to the car, I tripped in the darkness and dropped the remainder of my drink on the warm asphalt.
The Winchester was open too, by the way, but they were showing Trolls World Tour. I’d much rather die.