(CITIZEN-TIMES) - At Carmike movie theaters, the 2015 refillable popcorn bucket is $20. Refills are $4 each, all year long.
This intrigues me. Going to the theater a-carrying yer bucket seems odd. I can't image you'd show up for a date with a popcorn bucket under your arm. New this year is a lid for the bucket ($1.50). Even more intriguing. Why do you need a lid?
I don't buy movie popcorn. It costs about 10 cents a kernel. Too much for me after I've bought a movie ticket. Movie theater popcorn is tasty, though. All them chemicals are good. Popcorn slathered in butter-flavored motor oil is delicious.
If I did buy popcorn, I wouldn't take the leftovers home. The day after, that stuff is even more greasy. Actually, it's not possible for it to be more greasy, yet it just seems so. Because the lard has congealed on it. A friend who worked in theaters said they pop the popcorn way in advance and store it in plastic bags. Then as people are coming in, they pop fresh popcorn to mix in with the stocked stuff so the place will smell good. Marketing to your nostrils.
This year, the bucket is on my bucket list. I may buy one. I live close to the theater, so maybe I could go down, get a refill and not even stay for a movie. Take buttered popcorn to covered dish events. Upper class friends would bristle and disapprove. (Which is why I don't have many upper class friends. Just one or two for novelty.)
Company stops by the house, and I'll say, "Y'all just hang on here a second. I'll be right back with a bucket of corn." Just imagine summer evenings sitting on the front porch munching from the bucket.
I may rent my bucket to others. Buy a bag of popcorn at the theater for $8. Or rent my (larger) bucket for the night for $2 plus $4 for the refill. Maybe I should buy several and rent them to people in the parking lot. Pssst. I can get you twice as much popcorn for half the price.
While I don't buy movie popcorn, I don't go sans nibbles either. I smuggle in. There, I've said it. Very out of character for me, such a law-abider. But it's not a law that you can't take in food in a theater. I think the posted signs are more suggestions. Strong suggestions, yes, but there are no North Carolina statutes that directly address this matter.
A pious friend was shocked I carry food in to the theater. She said, you know that's stealing, right? Um, no, it isn't. It's yahoo and classless, but it's not stealing. Me reaching across the counter and grabbing some Raisinets is stealing. Failure to buy them is concession self-supply, not theft.
I rationalize it some by the fact they aren't checking our purses. If they really cared, they'd station one of the people at the entrance to dig around in incoming pocketbooks, like they do at ballgames. (When they do that, we think they are looking for contraband like weapons or terrorist supplies, instead they are looking for cokes or beer. You have to buy your drinks from them at 1700 percent markup.)
I can bring in fireworks or knives. But no Diet Coke.
Guys usually aren't the sneakers of food because they don't have purses. However, I've seen a few of them sneak, too. I spotted one guy taking a piece of somewhat wadded pizza out of his front pocket. The napkin it had been wrapped in was wet with grease, and the cheese had stuck to his pocket. Ick.
Another day, I saw a man flatten a sub sandwich and put it in his pocket. Mashed from fluffy sub to pocket panini. He looked sheepish and said, "I'm hungry."
While I break the movie theater rules carrying in snacks, I still have personal code for what's OK and what isn't. Honor amid dishonorable behavior. A slippery slope. Ethics for snuck-in movie food.
Nothing smelly. No tuna sub sandwich or oranges. Strong aroma is distracting to others.
Nothing loud. If you are smuggling, you don't have to announce it with a crinkly bag or pop-top can.
Nothing messy. Can't throw stuff in the floor when you are finished. Apple core or banana peels. After my friend ate an apple, I whispered to ask what she did with the core. Put it in the floor, she said. You can't do that. It's nasty, I told her. Like the floors of theaters aren't nasty anyway, she said, your shoes stick to them. Doesn't matter, the floor isn't a composting area.
Nothing complicated. I saw a dad and son bring in all the makings for s'mores. Oh dear, this might get interesting, I thought as I considered how one would melt it together. They didn't. They just ate them raw. Still, stacking a s'more in the dark movie theater was no easy undertaking. Lots of unwrapping and whispering about uncooperative marshmallows.
Nothing you wouldn't want to give up if they came to confiscate it. A lady I know was nervous about joining me on the dark side where we break concession rules. I talked her in to sneaking in a can of toasted pecans. Then I "went to the restroom" but really went to talk to the bored ticket taker and convinced him to go shine a flashlight on my girlfriend. "Ma'am is that illegal food you have there?"
"Yes, it is. I have pecans. Because my friend Nancy told me it was OK and that we wouldn't get caught." (Took her three full seconds to squeal on me.) Then she tried to turn the pecans over to him. I'm just kidding, he said. She insisted he take them from her. No, I can't he said, I have no authority. She said, I can't eat them now, I know they're wrong.
What I like best about the bucket with the $1.50 lid is that there's no more need for pocketbook sneaking. Just buy the bucket and the lid, then fill 'er up. Popcorn, ha. Put whatever you want in it. Vienna sausages and moon pies. Chocolate milk. You can swing it through the lobby in broad daylight without a care. They can't see inside because of the lid they sold you.
This is the opinion of Nancy Williams, the coordinator of professional education at UNC Asheville. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.