There was something almost appropriate about how it looked like it was all going to shake out, something very Homer-y in the level of defeat and disappointment.
Seeing as how we hadn’t managed to get any preview passes, I figured we’d just catch the movie over the weekend like everyone else. But Wednesday night I happened upon a promo for one of the local news programs where the hostess was clutching a fistful of them.
“Tune in tomorrow morning to find out how you can get free passes for The Simpsons Movie!” she chirped amiably. This was it, the last chance! The pass was a shiny and multicolored bit of magic, and I listened closely as the spot went on to inform me that I would obtain this information between 5 and 9 am the following morning.
Well, that was that. There was a very small window of opportunity to watch TV in the morning as we got ready for work and it surely wouldn’t be enough to help.
With a little time to kill, I started flipping through the channels the next morning and, unbelievably, I hit the station just as they’re plugging the thing.
“Just come on down to our studios at 8 this morning and get yourself a pair of passes, etc., etc.” Another roadblock.
I ask the wife if there’s any way she could sneak out of work and make the trip. Surely her employers would be understanding about a mission of mercy. This plan fell through quickly, however, victim of an eagle-eyed supervisor who placed far too much importance on employees being at their desks during working hours.
This was surely the final straw. But then I remembered Norm who worked two blocks away from the place.
Would he be able to sneak out and grab a pass for me? Yes indeed.
I waited patiently for the progress report and found that not only did he manage a pass, but a poster and a donut (which he kept).
So we’d done it. All we had to do was get in line and the rest was gravy. I timed our arrival at what I thought was a reasonable hour and as we approached the theater, we were shocked to find an already lengthy line snaking around the building.
Still, this was not worrisome. Being the thrifty sort that I am, I’ve been to a number of these free screenings and, although the passes always say to arrive early because they do not guarantee you a seat, I have never, ever seen anyone turned away at these things.
Usually these screenings are held at large theaters that can accommodate anyone who wants to come (often these means a great many people, as they often cross-promote these events).
For some reason, they picked this rather small art theater. The line didn’t get to the halfway point before two women came out and apologized to all of us because the seats were now all filled.
An enormous moan came up from the crowd, though many merely reeled in silent disbelief.
Keep in mind that a) there were any number of midnight shows that night I could go to and b) it was officially opening the following day. So my disappointment was somewhat tempered by the knowledge that there were a great many alternatives open to me. They were even throwing posters and passes for other movies at us by way of consolation.
Surely we were supposed to be inside, weren’t we? After accidentally catching the blink-or-you’ll-miss-it promo, getting Norm to abandon his post, after all the dominoes lined up so carefully and artfully, this was how it ended?
I turned around to say as much to the wife, but she’d disappeared.
I finally found her talking to one of the women from the theater and the next thing I knew, the wife was ushering me into the lobby.
“What did you say to her?” I asked.
“Shhhh,” said the wife. “Be quiet.”
Trying to blend into the scenery as various authority figures roamed about, the PR woman came back in and walked us downstairs and into the theater, pausing only to exclaim “Press” at the gatekeeper to explain our presence.
There were, quite literally, two seats left and they weren’t together. But we took them.
“You don’t mind, do you?” the wife asked.
“Not if you don’t,” I said, “but what did you say to her?”
“You know, that you were Mr. Simpson and you’d written these books and they’d interviewed you. Stuff like that.”
And as the last two dominoes fell into place, I wondered at the randomness of it all and whether things are meant to be or merely meaningless occurrences that we feel the need to saddle with meaning. We weren’t supposed to be there, or were we?
All this and more I wondered until, of course, Ralph Wiggum showed up.