I saw you as I hurried up darkened stairs. You were the only other person in our row. I know, it’s a bother for me to haphazardly squeeze past your be-jeaned knees as I shuffle past in the dark, searching for an unseen seat number. I had to spare each minute to avoid paying an extra R10 for parking, you see; the trailers had to be sacrificed. I know, technically I was supposed to be seated one seat up from you but, despite myself, it seemed too intimate. At least for a first date. I deliberately moved up. Lines of darkened figures fumbled into the theatre, pretending to know where they were, and slowly our row filled up with spectators. You moved up toward me and the ratio of space between us was restored. We didn’t exchange names, but your backpack plomped itself next to me as the titles came on the screen, and I clutched my bag tighter to my belly.
The theatre quietened. My heart beat dimly under my bitten restrained excitement. Anderson’s pictures of life in compartments gleamed across the screen in stylised fluid dolly shots until the cinema seemed to feel like a model of itself and we started speaking in subtext. Not wasting time. If only we could see all of life in perfect formal balance. Our feelings and experiences compartmentalised, our desires spoken. We chuckled together when the composed Gustave H. let out unexpectedly frank remarks amid reciting poetry, and I remembered how badly Steve Zissou wanted a son. People live their lives almost methodically climbing in and out of boxes, in and out of expectations and in and out of fear and surprising courage. Let down by our dreams, we rise to the occasion and make of our existence something tender and admirable. We stop living for us.
I know you weren’t just some bored tourist on a student visa. You came here deliberately to share this moment with me. You came here with your half-empty backpack. You picked the seat in the middle (like me) and you came because you wanted to. You fell in love with Willem Defoe in Life Aquatic. You understand Bill Murray’s woeful eyes.You wanted to escape the constraints of our boxed-in lives like a fox in a hole. You wanted to find meaning and a cure for your issues and if you could, you would go back in time to your own Moonrise Kingdom. When knowing we wanting to be together was enough. Come, let us build bottle rockets and play with model trains. Let’s paint our house yellow and read each other books. Let’s be great together, in our own small way, and live regretting nothing especially not wasted opportunities.
The credits roll. You stay seated. I want to as well, but I have the clock to beat. I steal a glance at your hipster beard, and how expectantly you stare at the screen, though the magic is gone. Again, I excuse myself brushing against your legs on my way out of your life. Let’s hope we meet again next time, around a Wes Anderson movie. Maybe then, I’ll catch your name.
M. Gustave H.: “Have you ever been questioned by the authorities?”
Zero: “Yes, on one occasion.”
M. Gustave H.: “What, what, what?”
Zero: “I was arrested and tortured by the rebel militia after the desert uprising.”
M. Gustave H.: “Right, well you know the drill then. Zip it!”
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