I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed a nice little routine that I had when it came to dining out and taking in some entertainment before this whole pandemic thing started dismantling our way of life.
Maybe this routine is the same for others, but I can only speak to my experience.
Whenever a week arrived on the calendar in which the Reel Theatre in Outlook would be screening a movie I’d been looking forward to, the routine was simple but still anticipated.
I’d stay late at the office and watch my coworkers leave for the evening and wait around and kill time until it was nearly 5:00 pm. At that point, I would go and pick up my brother from his place of work and the two of us would go and have supper at one of this town’s fine dining establishments. Might be a couple of burgers, might be Chinese cuisine, might be a night in which I “feel like veal for this meal”. We’d enjoy our supper, talk about this, that and the other thing, and then be on our way.
The only problem at this point in our evening plans is that we’d have some time to kill before heading to the movie theater for the 7:30 show. So, what’s a couple of guys to do for an hour or so? We’d go back to my office where my laptop awaited and watch something on a streaming service or check out videos on YouTube. It might be prank videos, it might be an old episode of ‘King of the Hill’, or it might be funny pet clips, like that one where the cat stands up on two legs and punches the absolute tar out of a stuffed tiger. (always good for a chuckle – that kitty’s got some impressive jabs and hooks)
Soon enough, it’d be around 7:00 and we’d head out for the movie theater. We’d pay, grab snacks, sit down, and watch whatever entertainment was being offered on that night. After the movie, I’d cruise back over to the office and grab my laptop gear before going home.
Again, a simple routine, am I right? Certainly not the most exciting version of an evening out, but it’s what we enjoyed on a fairly consistent basis.
That is, of course, until about the first week or so in March. That’s when the world got turned upside down and the Covid pandemic started affecting our cozy and unassuming lives here in rural Saskatchewan.
As a result, businesses shuttered the windows and locked the doors. Everything about life as we knew it became a massive question mark.
The movie theater in town was no stranger to the effects. Public gatherings were immediately knee-capped, so there went the almost-weekly Cheap Tuesday night out. On top of that, with Hollywood productions essentially shut down and movie studios halting any new releases, there wouldn’t have been anything new to screen anyway.
It was disappointing and even a little disorienting. The routine was over.
Then we fast forward about four months later – a third of a year – and arrive at last Thursday night, when the Reel Theatre reopened to the public and screened its first movie since March.
There was no way I was missing (re)opening night, and it might be safe to say I would’ve showed up regardless of what the theater was playing; kids fare, family friendly, or maybe, just maybe, even a chick flick. As it stands, it happened to be playing ‘The Invisible Man’, a horror thriller that was critically acclaimed upon its release earlier this year. Perfect, something that’s right in my wheelhouse.
So, I proceeded to get back into the old cycle; I stayed late at the office, I went and got something to eat, and then when the time was right, I went to the movie theater.
I can only say that the experience felt different and familiar at the same time. You walk in and right away notice the plexiglass installed that’s become a staple at many other businesses. You pay by putting your cash in a container that slides over to cashiers. You walk into the theater itself and notice that the majority of the seats are taped off for now in order to follow guidelines and maintain the limited capacity numbers.
The only hiccup was when the movie suddenly quit halfway through and the projector tech had to be called, making for a wait of maybe 10 minutes or so. Hey, may as well get all the kinks out of the system on opening night, right?
When the movie concluded, I left the theater and returned to my office to grab my stuff before heading home. I couldn’t help but feel like as if things had returned to some semblance of normalcy, though a very modest form of it.
I know we’re a long way off from being out of this pandemic, especially in light of the news coming out of the central and southwest portions of the province, but being able to get out and go to the movies again gives me hope that even in the smallest of ways that are uniquely special to me and a select audience of fellow moviegoers, we may be closer to ‘normal’ in some ways than we might think.
Even if that level of normalcy just involves the little things, they still make life worth living at times, don’t they?
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.