I love going to the movies. I still remember the very first movie I saw in a theater. It was Bambi, and I went with my aunt, uncle and cousins. I remember crying when Bambi’s mother died. In spite of the sadness, I was enthralled.
Tony and I wrote movies together, but we also went to see them together. A lot. The first movie we ever went out to see was Lost in Translation. During our time together, we went to the theater and saw hundreds of movies together. We didn’t go every week, but we went at least a couple of times a month, and there were stretches where we did go every weekend. The last movie we saw together was Looper. Tony didn’t like it, and insisted that we leave. I wasn’t really loving it either, but would have stayed for the whole thing because I wanted to see how it ended, and because every film I see is a learning experience for me as a screenwriter.
After I hurt my back in October and wasn’t able to sit in a theater seat (or any seat, for that matter) without excruciating pain, Tony went (with my encouragement) to see two films by himself. He saw Argo and Lincoln, and loved both of them.
Until this past Friday night, I had not been to a movie since before I hurt my back. It hasn’t felt right, not without my movie-going partner. Not without Tony to share a Diet Coke with and roll my eyes at after a bit of clunky dialogue, or grip his arm during a scary part, or warm my cold nose (my nose is always freezing in movie theaters) against his shoulder.
But then last week my sister Stephanie was supposed to see Star Trek with a friend. She had IMAX passes. Her friend had to cancel, and I found myself saying, “We could go see it.” I think I surprised her with that. The truth is, I surprised myself.
So we went. By the time we got there, the 7:00 show was sold out. We were disappointed, but it turned out Iron Man 3 was still playing, it was starting at 6:30 and we had ten minutes to spare. My sister loves Robert Downey Jr. (as do I) and so we went with it. I had a tough moment at the beginning. Iron Man’s real name, in case you don’t know, is Tony. Tony Stark. There’s a scene at the beginning where his girlfriend Pepper is trying to wake him from a nightmare, and she’s yelling his name. I had a little bit of a panicky feeling, but Stephanie reached for my hand and I got through it.
I enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering. It was very explode-y and action-y, with lots of Robert Downey Jr. to ogle and some really smart, funny dialogue courtesy of writer/director Shane Black. Stephanie and I put on our goofy 3-D glasses, shared some popcorn and peanut butter M & M’s (dinner of champions) and laughed and flinched and oohed and aahed our way through it. It was fun. I thought of Tony many, many times during the movie. I missed him most, I think, when Tony Stark referred to a character as Laurence Oblivier, because that would have cracked my Tony up. He would have let loose with the full-throated laugh he had, the one I loved and miss so much.
It hurts to think that I will never sit in a theater with Tony again. What I know now, though, is that I can sit in a theater and enjoy a movie, still. I can go with someone I love and trust, and we can laugh and share popcorn. I have lost so much, but it’s nice to know I still have the movies.