I immediately sat bolt upright. And not just like any-old regular bolt, either; that’s rusted and sitting in an old pomade tin at the bottom of the toolbox your father gave you when you moved out of home when you were eighteen and that you’ve seldom had cause to look at since. Not at all. I’m talking about one of those oversized, chrome masterpieces you get from Bunnings that looks as though it could hold the Sydney Harbour Bridge together. I’m talking about a very serious bolt. And the thing that caused me to become bolt upright was an email from my local cinema. This, it must be said, it a most unusual thing.
It seems that everything you do in life now generates an email. Whether it’s buying a pair of shoes or ordering a chair, you are inadvertently making a lifetime commitment. Whether you agreed to it or not, you’re destined to be flooded with unsolicited correspondence for the rest of your days. So it was with the cinema. Once, I must have decided that catching a movie would be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, never realizing that I’d be hearing from them for, well, eternity. Frankly, the incessant nature of these unwanted, uninvited emails is almost enough to make me wish I’d never seen Police Academy 8: The Next Generation at all. Almost.
I now get so many of these emails now that they barely register. Worse than that, I rarely believe what they’re telling me. It simply can’t be that the furniture shop I bought a small stool from seven years ago is still having a clearance sale. If it never ends, it can’t really be said that it’s a sale. It’s just normal business. When a certain on-line food ordering service tells me that today is international cheese pizza day, I take it with a grain of salt, even though said pizza is already pretty salty to begin with. When an email has, as its subject title ‘Hurry’, I am overwhelmed by lethargy.
But this was an email I couldn’t ignore. As it appeared on my phone, it loudly declared, ‘Luke Heggie’s dead’. I had no idea who Luke Heggie was, but I was both devastated and confused. Devastated because despite the fact that I was utterly unfamiliar with his work, I certainly didn’t wish him any harm and I could only assume from the nature of the announcement that his passing was somewhat unexpected. Confused because I wasn’t sure why a cinema would be making this kind of declaration; unless, of course, Luke’s demise was somehow connected to an incident involving the popcorn machine. Worried, I quickly opened the email.
Then came the rest of the message. ‘Luke Heggie’s deadpan humour….’, went the email. Though they have a lot in common the words ‘dead’ and ‘deadpan’ are decidedly different. It is, on balance, far better to be described as ‘deadpan’ rather than ‘dead’. Clearly they were unaware that by sending out a group email the text would be displayed in such a way as to create wholesale panic if not an outpouring of raw emotion. This is why cinemas aren’t allowed to make sensitive announcements. They can’t be trusted.
I can’t have been the only one to notice. I wonder if the proprietors turned up to work the next day only to encounter a small Luke Heggie shrine, complete with candles, poems and a couple of stuffed toys, blocking access to the Choc Tops. Perhaps some kind of small vigil of devoted fans, quietly telling jokes to one another. The resulting funeral would be odd, also. Personally, I’ve never been to a funeral where the advertising was brought to you by Pearl and Dean.
Ironically, given the email, they were seeking to promote a live performance. Which, although conceivably deadpan, would be the absolute polar opposite of dead. Phew. That said, a live performance at a cinema is kind of at odds with the whole point of the cinematic experience. I’m just saying. I don’t know if he’ll be doing his regular routine or, instead, reading from a movie script. If so, they should really say which script he’ll be reciting. Nobody wants to turn up to their local cinema to hear someone read through Police Academy 8: The Next Generation. You’ll have to take my word on that.
Having been fooled once, I am now treating all my emails with suspicion. I once bought a towel and, for my troubles, I’m now being asked the somewhat loaded question: ‘what’s the perfect sheet set for you?’ To be honest, it’s not a subject I’ve devoted much time to. Many of these emails claim that the offer ‘ends tonight’. Sure it does. Some of them claim to be celebrating holidays I’ve never heard of. (Surely there’s no such thing as ‘International Bean Throwing Day? It’s got to be a joke. I’m hoping).
From now on, I’ll be ignoring my emails. Instead, I’ll be relying on my preferred mode of communication – Bat signal. And although I’m delighted to hear that Luke Heggie is very much in the land of the living and delighted that he’s got an upcoming live performance, I won’t be going. After the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on this week, I’m not sure I could take any more. Instead, I’ll be staying home where it’s nice and warm. To watch a movie.