Here’s what I hate about going to the movies. I’m always seated directly in front of the cougher. When I’m not seated directly in front of the cougher, I’m seated in front of the sneezer. And it does absolutely no good to listen for sounds of sniffing, throat clearing or Thera-Flu ingestion while I’m looking for a seat. A true theater-cougher will wait to reveal himself until after the curtain has gone up and your uncovered popcorn is within the dreaded three-foot mucosal range.
The very best seat in the house is the seat right behind the cougher. The bacteria will always blow forward and your odds of having a secondary microbial infestation directly behind you are slim to none. However, exactly how to locate this golden seat remains one of life’s greatest mysteries. I’ve often thought, with my abysmal track record, of settling myself in a seat, then getting up and moving two rows back. But I’ve never risked it.
So how does a girl who stocks her purse, her car, and her office with Purell hand sanitizer make it through an entire film during cold and flu season?
It all has to do with stealthy coat management.
1. Choose your outerwear wisely before leaving the house. A thick hood will provide a germ barrier that can only be likened to an N-95 mask. A stand-up collar will work almost as well, but I cannot guarantee full microbial blockage should the infected one happen to be long in the torso or neck.
2. Before sitting down, position your coat with the hood or collar creating a nice ridge along your seat back. Being ever the optimist, I tend to keep the collar or hood folded down–but ready–at this point.
3. When the cough occurs–and this is doubly important if the cough is gurgly and vile–it’s important to act quickly. You have precious few seconds to activate your blockade. In one motion, flip up your collar or hood and slide down in your seat, forming additional obstruction on the sides of your face. These side “blinders” may not be altogether necessary, but will be very convincing when you explain to the members in your party that you find the theater chilly. You’d be well-advised to throw in a few well-timed shivers at this point, lest you appear…socially unhinged.
You may walk out of the theater with a kinked neck and you’ll likely miss any subtitles, but, dear reader, you’ll have your health. And if, in spite of your best efforts, you stumble in your execution and feel the vile spray of respiratory secretions against the back of your shirt collar, despair not.
As best you can, try to enjoy the film, then get your soon-to-be-ailing body to the nearest bar for a nip of something strapping. Compensatory. You deserve it. And when you do come down with your benefactor’s bug, go straight to the theater and pick any seat you desire. You have no one to fear but yourself.
All I ask is that you save me the seat behind you.