This weekend I was itching to see a highly touted French film called Mesrine: Killer Instinct that opened Friday. It stars Vincent Cassel in the true story of a notorious gangster called Jacques Mesrine. It is playing in two Manhattan movie theaters, the Angelika, a multiplex located downtown with screens the size of thumbnails, a sound system modeled after my sister’s ancient 45 rpm record player, seating so cramped whether Rocky or Bullwinkle sits in front of me, it’s highly likely that the middle section of each subtitle will be obscured, and last but not least, I will be distracted by the rumble of the nearby subway throughout the screening. For this completely unrewarding film-going experience, the price of admission is $13.00.
The other theater is the spacious AMC 25 located in Times Square. Even the smallest screen at this theater is larger than the Angelika’s, the seating is stadium guaranteeing that the view is always perfect, the sound system is so superb when bullets fly I’m prone to duck, and the price of tickets for all screenings before noon is $6.00. Did I omit any other pertinent details about this movie palace? Oh, yes.
It’s infested with bedbugs.
Or, at least theater management claims that two were discovered in early August, but then a theater patron complained of being bitten ravenously mid-month so the entire multiplex was closed for extermination – if that did any good.
Apparently, DDT all but wiped out bedbugs in the forties and fifties, but the critters that did survive eradication are resistant to pesticides today. Knowing that there is now a super-race of bedbugs invading New York and other major cities is not a comforting thought. Since mature pregnant females can lay between 300-1000 eggs in a lifespan of six to twelve months, how about spraying them with some toxin that renders these bloodsuckers infertile? The ingredients in my grandmother’s ghastly tasting polenta might be a good place to start.
According to a Marist poll one in ten New Yorkers have had bedbugs in their homes, New Yorkers making less than $50,000 a year were twice as likely to have bedbugs as opposed to people earning more, 2% of Republicans admit having them whereas 12% of Democrats did. There is no figure on the extent of Republican denial about the problem. I read these results and reasoned that even if I do not leave my apartment again for the remainder of the year, according to that poll, I’m doomed since so many of the infested are people like me.
Normally, I am not a fearful type. I don’t live my life worried about the next terrorist attack, I ride the subway daily, and I like my steak so rare that when I stab it, I can hear the cow scream in agony, or maybe that’s myself suffering stomach cramps six hours later due to monumental food poisoning. Yet, New York is the number one bedbug infested city in the country and that disturbs me a million times more than a mosque near Ground Zero. Muslims do not scare me. My Egyptian hairdresser is Muslim. She doesn’t bite. Bedbugs do.
AMC 25 went into overdrive to keep this problem on the down low for as long as possible since an infested movie theater is the kiss of death. Knowing that they could continue to lurk there has stigmatized this theater in my mind. As much as I’d love to have my head filled with French car chases and gunfire, I’d prefer not having my limbs gorged by parasites as well. Therefore, I chose to be a coward. As much as I’m itching to see Mesrine, I can live without seeing it in a theater that could give me the nastiest of itches and a home invasion. I love gangster movies, not horror.