an unusual start to the weekend

I just wanted to share this real quick, because otherwise there is too much chance I'll forget, after later writing about Jennifer and Eric's Halloween party tonight and staying overnight with them.

For now I just need to tell you about this odd and interesting experience I had last night while watching the third and final film I had free tickets for at the "TWIST" Seattle Queer Film Festival. It was called BPM: Beats Per Minute, and it was easily the best of the three. Solid A, likely to be on my top ten for the year.

There were at least three unusual things about that movie-going experience, though.

First, the most minor: I nearly missed it. I had it in my head that the showtime was at 7:00, even though I knew full well -- had even looked multiple times at it on my calendar -- that it was at 6:45. But, force of habit, I guess. I had come home from work, made myself a very tasty bagel sandwich with scrambled egg and onion and veggie breakfast sausage mixed in it. I was hanging out in my bedroom when I decided to leave at 6:15, thinking I would have half an hour before showtime when I arrived at the Egyptian Theater at 6:30.

I finally remembered the movie was actually at 6:45 right when I left, but that was still fine; getting a great seat might be more of a challenge but I would still get there with fifteen minutes to spare. Or so I thought: it was not until I arrived at the Egyptian that I finally remembered the movie wasn't playing there -- it was playing at Pacific Place downtown. Jesus Christ!

Luckily for me, the #49 bus was turning round the corner from Broadway right at that moment, so I was able to get on a bus headed down Pine immediately. So, I still arrived at the theatre with ten minutes to spare. That gave me enough time to use the bathroom real quick. When I finally got into the theatre, which was much larger than most auditoriums for TWIST screenings, I'd say it was at maybe 75% capacity.

Pacific Place screening rooms are divided into two sections, the front section flat and looking up at the screen -- never my preference -- and the back section stadium seating, which I always prefer. Given my way, I always sit in the front row of that section so I can rest my feet on the metail railings that run in front of them. But, that row was pretty much full.

So this brings me to the second unusual experience, with the somewhat older, clearly gay man I wound up sitting next to. About three rows back from the aforementioned railing, two seats alongside the aisle were reserved, but one between those and this guy was open. I asked him if anyone was sitting there and he said, "No, go ahead!" He made an awkward attempt at small talk when he started to bring up the book I had with me (What Happened by Hillary Clinton), but then sort of weirdly backpedaled when he realized it was not another book he thought it was, something I forget that had a similar title and also started with the phrase What Happened. I got the sense he wasn't the biggest Hillary fan; he did not ask or say anything about it once he realized what it really was. (Incidentally, one day last week when I was walking home from work and reading, a lady standing next to me at a red light did ask me how the book is.)

Anyway. BPM is about ACT UP and their AIDS activism in Paris in the early nineties. It's a superb film. And, spoiler alert! (I have no idea when this film will have actual wide distribution in the U.S., I'm guessing maybe sometime next year.) One of the main characters dies of AIDS. It's very sad, as you can imagine, and naturally it made me cry.

That older guy sitting next to me began to cry much earlier than I did. I have no evidence of this at all but I did suspect that it could have hit him harder because he was old enough to have experienced those days when AIDS was killing the most people, especially gay men, sex workers and drug addicts. Older gay men have truly horrifying stories of countless friends dying all the time, and I am forever grateful that I never went through that.

Once the character actually dies, and his partner is racked with grief, I started to cry too. The guy next to me was much more audibly sniffly; I didn't really make any noise -- but I did start having to wipe a lot of tears away from my cheeks, just as I had when watching Saturday Church, though for very different reasons. And that was when this guy sitting next to me, a total stranger, held out his hand for me to hold.

This was new. I cry at movies all the time, so I never particularly feel like I need comfort when it happens. It was still a touching gesture, even if I felt then, as I do now, that the other guy needed it more than I did. I did hesitate at fist, looking down at his open hand. But how would I look if I was just like, "No, thanks"? So I just kind of thought, Well, all right, and I held his hand. And we sat there, strangers holding hands, for at least a few minutes while we watched characters onscreen overcome with grief.

So how long should I wait before taking my hand away, then? Should I wait for him to? What's the protocol here? I imagine people have these kinds of questions all the time when first dating someone. I didn't even know this guy. After a couple of minutes, though, he was the one to make the move to take his hand away again, and then it was over. We never even talked to each other again, as I got up to leave as soon as the credits started to roll.

But that part was not until after the equally unusual incident that happened: not five minutes after the hand holding, some other guy in the audience started to elicit very odd kind of moaning sounds. At first I wondered it if was some guy getting really into his own reaction to the sadness of the film, but then at least two other people called out, "Is there a doctor!" and at least one person said more than once, "Lights!"

I have no idea what happened to this guy who was sitting several rows further back and closer to the other side of the room, but the movie was stopped and the paramedics were called. Festival organizers announced that they would resume the film after the paramedics came, that the next scheduled movie was being held for anyone in this screening with a ticket to that other one, and now might be a good time for a bathroom break. Finally they even turned up the house lights. So, with not more than five minutes left of the movie, we all took this little break.

The guy who had first cried out ultimately called out insisting he was okay, but the paramedics had been called anyway -- probably for the best. They came in after just a few minutes, walked up to the area in the audience where he was at, and later walked him and an apparent friend out of the theatre. Then the movie resumed. I was glad for that, because I hated the thought of having to review a movie I never got to finish, even if it was only five minutes to the end. Granted, nothing in my review would have been any different.

The final scene was shown, the credits rolled, and by now it was nearly 9:30 so I bolted out of there. I wanted to write my review before going to bed. I once again was barely able to catch a bus, so that saved me some time.

I was oddly not very tired last night, so I stayed up later than usual. I thought it would be nice to see Ivan before I went to bed; I hadn't seen him since Monday night, as I had been going to bed so early all the other nights. Once again he did not come home on the usual bus that arrives at 10:40, but I was up still until the next bus at 11:10. He didn't seem to be on that one other, so I finally came to the bedroom to go to bed. He must have gotten off at an earlier stop, because literally moments before I was going to get into bed, I heard him come in. So, I grabbed my bathrobe and went out to chat with him for a few minutes.

As of this morning, it's only 9:01 as I write this, so I've done little more than shower and get ready and write this. I need to go to US Bank when it opens at 10:00 to deposit some checks into Shobhit's bank account. I just hung up after a 36-minute Skype call with him; he was lying on a couch at his mom's place in Delhi and had fallen asleep. I have no idea how long it takes for him to get past jet lag. He's been there since Monday.

As it happens, he'll be taking another trip within this trip -- he just emailed me his flight itinerary for a trip to visit his sister, who currently lives with her husband and children in Vadodara, a city in the state of Gujarat with a population of two million -- by Indian standards, quite small. Delhi, by contrast, has about 16 million.

I only know this now because I literally just looked it up: Gujarat is the state on India's west coat just north of the state of Maharashtra, which contains Mumbai (Bombay). Vadodara is about 260 miles north of Mumbai -- so, close to the distance between Seattle ad Spokane. The distance between Delhi and Vadodara is about twice as wide: 625 miles. So, more comparable to the distance between Portland and San Francisco. Anyway, Shobhit is flying to Vadodara on October 31 -- the day after his birthday -- and back to Delhi November 2. He flies back to Seattle November 10. I suspect he won't be communicating with me quite as much during his visit with his sister.

[posted 9:15 a.m.]