Aaron pours vodka into an empty water bottle, then holds it up to his windshield to catch the parking lot’s light.
He adds more vodka, checks again.
The rest of the bottle he fills with a lukewarm Sprite that fizzes over, staining his crotch and making his hands sticky. Great, he thinks. So if you get caught, they’ll not only know you were drinking in public, they’ll think you’re a sex pervert too, too. But that’s ridiculous, because if he really does get arrested for intoxication, he can of course explain that the stickiness was only Sprite. And if they don’t believe him, there’s always DNA testing.
Aaron pre-gamed at home, then raced to the theater, trying to arrive so that the shots he took kicked in just as the previews started. Face flushed red, he suddenly worries that he’s going to be late for the movie, have to walk in when everyone else is seated and staring at him. But he checks his phone, and he’s still ten minutes early. (Which is good, because if Aaron didn’t go to the bathroom beforehand, he’d spend the entire movie debating whether or not it’d be worth missing the movie to go to the bathroom and completely ruin his buzz.)
The plastic fifth of vodka, mostly empty, lying on the his seat like a corpse for all to see. Aaron notices it now and, hiding the bottle behind sunscreens in the passenger seat’s back pocket, wonders what would have happened if he hadn’t. He imagines leaving the movie in a great mood only to find a policeman standing at his window waiting for him. “I was passing by and noticed this in your car…”
He tells himself to chill while also telling himself to focus. His mix drink, now dripping condensation, has to be smuggled in. Aaron hides it between his Polo and undershirt, then—once he has gotten out of the car and steadied himself against someone’s minivan—puts on a bulky jacket and zips, securing the drink.
It’s like the opposite of shoplifting, he thinks. Well, he’s stealing from the concession stands by not buying from them, in a way (theft by omission?) . . . although, they don’t sell liquor anyway, so that’s their loss. But he supposes he could have bought their $7.00 Sprite instead of bringing his $0.10 own, if he cared so much. He doesn’t think he does.
More importantly, did he lock his car? Pointing back at the parking lot wilderness, he pushes the keyfob and his car honks a faint yes.
The doors look like the heavy kind that Aaron has embarrassed himself trying to open before, straining with his lack of muscles. So Aaron pulls hard on the theater’s entrance. But it’s surprisingly light—he trips backwards in a more embarrassing fuck-up than having difficulty with the door would have been. The kind of thing that’s funny when it happens to someone else, but not to you.
Get it together, he thinks. What if your drink had fallen out?
Aaron approaches the ticket machine. (He drove the extra ten miles to this theater rather than risk any human interactions at the older one by his house; idle chatter was how you got caught.)
When he reaches for his wallet, Aaron notices that his jacket looks wet, like maybe his drink is leaking through his shirt. Could the lid have come off when he fell?
He tries to hurry through the ticket machine’s menus but realizes halfway through that he’s selected the wrong showing of whatever Marvel movie he’s seeing, and he has to start over. All the while pretty sure he’s leaking, but he can’t exactly unzip and check in the middle of the lobby like this.
Finally his fucking ticket prints. He about sprints to the ticket-taker, but stops just short of running when he’s hit by both the need to catch his breath and a heavy sense of shame. How awful he must look tonight, probably reeking of liquor, dripping it, and now out of breath. He shouldn’t have pre-gamed so much, or should have at least timed his drinks better.
“Sir,” Aaron hears the ticket-taker say, and jumps. But when Aaron actually looks, the ticket-taker’s talking to someone else.
Aaron feels the wetness spreading across his chest. Fuck! Not only will he stink, his drink will be gone before he even sits down. The whole point of sneaking a drink in is to have it during the movie.
He takes a deep breath, repositions the ticket in his hand for optimal ticket-taker access, and gets in line. Rip, “Theater 5 on your right,” and it’s over. In a way Aaron’s almost disappointed that the girl who took his ticket didn’t notice he was drunk, although that makes no sense. Not disappointing maybe, just anti-climactic.
(Unless Aaron seemed so wasted that the ticket-girl was deliberately refusing to acknowledge him… was maybe even reporting Aaron to her manager now. But no. If they wanted to detain Aaron, they wouldn’t have ripped his ticket. In this economy, they’re probably happy to have any customers, boozers or otherwise.)
Down the hall moments later, only moments after he calms down, Aaron panics again. There is no Theater 5. This was all a trap—they’re on to him, probably calling the police right now.
Then he realizes that he turned left and is on the wrong side of the building. So it’s probably not a conspiracy.
As an alibi for being on the wrong side of the theater, he ducks inside the nearest bathroom. (Considering there are men’s rooms on both sides, this excuse is flimsy at best—but it also gives him a chance to check his vodka Sprite.)
In a bathroom stall, he carefully unbuckles his belt and releases his shirt. Miraculously, the drink situation’s not as bad as he feared: lid’s on, just slightly unscrewed. He must have been confusing the cold weather with wetness, or something. Who knows.
He checks his the time again. He’s now five minutes late but is so happy about the drink being intact after this debacle that he doesn’t even mind.
Then he remembers the long trek ahead of him, past the ticket girl to the other side of the theater. Ugh. Is his journey never finished?
When he comes out of the bathroom, sighing and fumbling for his ticket stub, he sees that a showing of the horror film he saw last week is just about to start. Perfect! He can hide in here and skip the treacherous journey.
Aaron finds a seat in the corner and covertly pulls the bottle from under his clothes. He places it in the cup-holder beside him a second before immediately picking it up and taking a long swig.
Grinning in the dark as the opening credits begin, Aaron thinks: The great thing about going to movies drunk is, you can see them more than once, but still feel surprised.