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Multiplex, Shmultiplex, Part 3: Show Me The Movie!

by Collin Souter

Oh, man, I had the weirdest dream the other night. Yeah, I know, I hate when people tell me about their dreams, too, but this one just stayed with me and until I get it all out on paper (or screen), it will probably nag at me forever. Let me just close my eyes for a second so I can get the sequence of events straight. It’s all a bit hazy at the moment and I want to get it right. It starts with me getting off work. I know that. Okay. Okay, I think I got it. I’m looking at the list of events. Yes. Yes, that’s right. Okay. This is the dream…

It’s Friday, late afternoon, early evening. I just got off work. I decide I’m going to take a train into the city of Chicago, not something I usually do on a Friday night. I live in the suburbs and I like to drive in to the city, but tonight, for whatever reason, I take the train. The train departs at 6:45 and arrives around 7:15pm. Still light out, a beautiful summer evening, right around 70 degrees. I walk through the streets. The setting feels very familiar to me, mainly because I’ve lived in the Chicagoland area all my life and because for the past three years I have been taking a train into the city for school. At one point in my life, this became a routine. But not tonight. Tonight, it just feels, well, like how a weird dream really feels.

I head towards the lake, or more to the point Lake Shore Drive. On my way, I pass by a concert in Grant Park where an R&B soul group performs. I don’t recognize them, but I’m well aware that I’m one of the very few white people in the area at the moment. The music sounds good and the vibe in the crowd feels celebratory. I wish I could stop, watch and relax, but I have a place to be at 8:00. It’s already 7:40 and I have no idea how long it will take to get where I need to go. I continue walking…and walking and walking and—oh, Christ!—walking. I consider taking a cab the rest of the way, but then I realize I’m pretty close to where I need to be and, damn if the weather doesn’t feel just about perfect. Why waste the money? Or the weather for that matter?

Finally, I get to where I need to be. The city feels so far away right now. I hear nothing in the way of traffic or hustle and bustle. I’m in the museum district. On one side of me stands the John G. Shedd Aquarium where you can see all kinds of aquatic wildlife. On the other side stands the Field Museum, where one can learn about historical artifacts, the big exhibit now being China’s Forbidden City. In the distance lurks my destination, a bed pan crammed inside a shoebox. At least, that’s what it looks like when you see it from afar and that’s what it looks like now that it has been remodeled. The name of the place remains: Soldier Field.

I see a few more people headed toward this seemingly desolate football stadium. We’re all here for the same reason, but we cannot seem to find the entrance. We circle the place for a half hour. As what often happens in my dreams, I say nothing and follow along. I look at my watch. 8:15pm. I’m late, but I hear nothing going on inside, so maybe I’m okay. We circle and circle and circle, which means way, way, way more walking than I care to do at this point. Right now, I need to get in. We all do. We look and feel like the cast of a post-apocalyptic holocaust movie.

We finally find the entrance. We pay our $10. The cost covers the entertainment, a burger, chips and a drink. A bargain. I get my food. I see about 50 other people scattered throughout the stadium. Tiny little bits of people in the distance. Nobody quite knows where the best seats are, and we only have about 20,000 or so to choose from. I settle into a seat near the back row on the golden circle near the 30-yard line.

I eat and drink. I am merry. The sky settles into a dark blue as the stars awake from their slumber. We have all settled in. We made it. The entertainment begins. On either side of the stadium stand two jumbo-trons, where you would normally see instant replays of football games, or ads for Gatorade. The jumbo-trons are big rectangular LED screens. They stand way up high, but burst with so much color and light that they resonate no matter where you sit. Tonight, we would be watching something else.

Tonight, we watched… Jerry Maguire.

That’s right. All of us. We had all made the pilgrimage to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, to watch Jerry Maguire on two jumbo-trons. I can’t remember much after that, accept that I believe I stayed for the whole thing and I felt alone the entire time. I’m not sure why Jerry Maguire. I’m not sure why in Soldier Field. I’m sure a dream analyst can make sense of this for me. I also remember feeling annoyed because they had opted to show an edited-for-television version instead of the R-rated version. I remember saying only one thing in this nagging dream: “Why not just show a G or PG movie if you’re so afraid of offending people!?!”

It's a dream, so I go with it.

Maybe taking the train in represented being on a path in life I’m afraid to veer from. Maybe the soul group represented…uuuhhh…my recent appreciation for soul greats such as Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Solomon Burke and Macy Gray. Maybe Soldier Field represented my love for U2, since the band’s PopMart tour was the last time I ever set foot in that stadium back in ’97. Maybe Jerry Maguire represented another guy on a path he wanted to veer from and had to take drastic measures to do it. Maybe Cuba Gooding Jr.’s mantra “Show me the money!” represented my stress from being broke most of the time.

All possible. The last part of the dream is now coming back to me. I took the train home. I got in my car, drove through Des Plaines (home of the original McDonalds), parked in my driveway, went upstairs to my room, changed my clothes, turned out the light and shut my eyes. As I drifted off to who-knows-where, it suddenly occurred to me.

I didn’t dream any of this.

It…actually…happened……..Man, that’s weird……………..

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originally posted: 06/30/04 12:12:46
last updated: 11/06/05 07:57:47
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