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Dinner and a Movie? Nah.

ticketsThey announced the Oscar nominees yesterday and on that list of ten (10!) best picture nominees I’d seen exactly…one.  The animated one with all the balloons.  (Shockingly, the two other movies I’ve seen recently,  “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “Twilight: New Moon” were absent from this list of cinematic glory.)

It’s not that I dislike the movies. I love going to the movies.  I like the theater, too.  It’s just that on my own private ranking system, very few things measure up.

My ranking system isn’t stars or rotten tomatoes or thumbs up-or-down. Nope, my system is much more crass than that: it’s money. If Husband and I “just” want to go to the movies, for instance, even without getting a bite to eat or a glass of wine beforehand, our evening costs us close to $100:  two movie tickets at $12.50 and approximately three hours of babysitting at about $15 an hour, plus maybe a little extra if we get home late and offer to pay for the sitter to take a cab home.  It’s about 70 bucks.  Now tell me, seriously, are any of the movies on that list worth that much money?  (Husband is fairly sure that “Avatar” is worth all the money in the world but I just can’t bring myself to be excited by a movie that my nephew described as “Dances with Smurfs.”)

As for theater? Don’t even get me started. Given that the cheapest seats for most good theater–on or off Broadway–start somewhere in the realm of $50, we’re looking at about a 200 or 300 dollar evening.  I coughed it up in order to see Cate Blanchett in “Streetcar Named Desire,” which was, granted, an amazing experience. Husband tells me that there are lots of amazing theatrical experiences out there – and I know he’s right–but at two hundred bucks a pop, it’s a drag when a performance is only so-so, or even (as is all too often the case) downright dreadful.

Me? I’d rather spend money on going out to eat. Somehow even a mediocre (probably over-priced) meal in a restaurant makes me happy, for the simplest of reasons: I didn’t cook it, I’m not cleaning up after it, and no one is demanding that I leap up to get him more milk some salt another napkin more ketchup dessert now.. I mean please… as soon as I sit down.  

Sarah, in the LA Mom’s Blog, talks about whether a dinner engagement is “sitter-worthy” and I guess for me, most meals out are sitter worthy.  A dinner out with friends–a dinner without discussions of logistics and homework, a meal without mediating between squabbling siblings–that to me is money well spent.

So you go to the movies and I’ll meet you later for dinner so you can tell me all about it.

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7 Responses to Dinner and a Movie? Nah.

  1. ann February 3, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Some EVill friends get around the million-dollar-movie dilemma thusly: Parent A goes to movies alone (often during discounted matinee), leaving Parent B w/child. Parent B and child go to theater to pick up Parent A at which time they change places and Parent A and child go off to do something else. The family meets after 2nd showtime for a meal and discussion of movie. It’s complicated but THEY GET TO SEE MOVIES WITHOUT TALKING ANIMALS OR LOVABLE ALIENS.

  2. Deborah Quinn February 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    genius. It does, however, require most of an entire morning/afternoon just to see a goddamn movie. Most of which are just as good when viewed on a telly whilst viewer sits on couch in comfy pants and woolly socks. (Husband says, yeah, not Avatar though. I say…smurf).

  3. KSB February 4, 2010 at 12:53 am #

    Hmmmm…..that’s tough. May I suggest a slight revision of Ann’s idea? Since you and your hubby tend to have quite different cinematic tastes (BTW, I’m with you on Avatar so far, granted that I haven’t seen the whole thing yet–I am going to see it tomorrow, to keep me culturally literate with my students, and since colleagues inform me it is related to what I do; regular theater closest to my office though, can’t spare the time to go hunt down an IMAX, which I’m sure your hubby will quite disapprove of), why don’t you take turns going to the movies with your friends, respectively, and save the logistics planning & shelling out of the big bucks for going to see good performances on/off Broadway? That way, you can enjoy movies you actually like and are interested in, yet save the moolah for a nice evening out with hubby together; you can talk about the movies after the other one has seen it on said telly in attire of choice, whilst enjoying immediate conversation about good performances over a nice tablecloth you won’t have to wash. I know, I know, nothing you haven’t already thought of or don’t know yet, but sometimes, I think, one just needs an extra push from friends to actually go do it!

    There’s another option….although I think I might get yelled at by your sis-in-law for suggesting this–here’s how we do it over here where I live: we draft extended family members for the babysitting gig. Cuts way down on expenses and anxiety (about whether the babysitter is really taking good care of the kids), and increases frequency of times out. That’s how most of my friends come cavorting with me into the wee hours. Mom & Dad are already signed up for duty–Me? I’m already busy ignoring my newlywed brother’s hints about future babysitting! ;P

  4. KSB February 4, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    PS: But, will, you know, step up when the times comes so he and his wife CAN go out now and then. In spite of my intense dread of babysitting. I don’t see any other solution to the dilemma. Good luck!

  5. HCW February 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    how much would a night out cost in south bend?

  6. Dick Horwich February 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    You make a very good case, Deborah. ( But I think KSB has a point; that’s what Nancy and I used to do when Danielle was a tyke.) However, you’re on much firmer ground when you complain about the horrific expense of money than of time. Yes, movies take a couple of hours to see and plays longer than that, but I think you’re betraying a little of what Shakespeare scholars call the “antitheatrical bias” when you grudge the hundred minutes it takes to sit through “A Serious Man.”

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