I love going to the movies, but it seems like every time I go, I miss some important scene while I’m in the bathroom (I was diagnosed with Crohn’s about two years ago). I went to see Gravity when it was new, and missed 20 minutes out of the ending. Is there anything I can do about this besides just sitting at home? I really like going to see new movies with my friends while they’re still new.
-M.F., Avondale Estates, GA
I remember almost missing the beginning of an episode of The Sopranos while I was in the bathroom, with my boyfriend shouting out updates (“Tony’s crossing the bridge! He’s pulling into his driveway!”). But at least we have DVR now for TV — a feature sadly absent from movie theaters. I’m sorry; I know how frustrating this can be. Before anything else, I would make sure you’ve already talked to your doctor about any tests or adjustments to your treatment or diet that you could make. (Some of the diarrhea of IBD might just happen right now no matter what you do, but it’s best to get your doctor’s help in figuring that out — it can become easy to accept symptoms that might not need to be accepted). But other than that, there are a couple of things you could try.
First, have you considered going to a drive-in movie theater? (Atlanta has the Starlight 6 on Moreland Avenue. Anyone who isn’t sure if there’s one near them can go to www.drive-ins.com/theaters; there are apparently 351 open theaters in the U.S., but they do seem to be absent from several regions.) Drive-ins now often broadcast the audio over a radio station, so you can pick it up through your car’s radio or freestanding radio instead of fumbling with one of those clip-on tethered speakerboxes.
But more importantly, you can also get the audio on a portable radio — available on Amazon.com for less than $20. Just go ahead and have the portable radio tuned to the correct station, then you can grab the radio and run to the bathroom (even better, have a whole little bag ready, with toilet paper and seat covers and wipes, too). And at least you’ll be able to keep up with the dialogue while you’re gone and won’t have to whisper-ask a friend what you missed. (This works better with more dialogue-driven movies versus action movies, but it’ll still be helpful plotwise to hear the exploding and screaming.)
(Tip unrelated to IBD: Don’t use your car radio unless you keep your engine running or cranked regularly, or your battery will die. I’ve never been to the drive-in and not seen at least one person walking around begging people for jumper cables.)
Another advantage to drive-ins: You can bring your own food and drinks, meaning you could have turkey sandwiches and ginger snaps, or quinoa mango salad with gluten-free brownies, and (free!) ice water. Instead of overpriced hot dogs and nachos and bottled water. Which could hopefully mean fewer trips to the bathroom as well. With summer weather coming up and the liberal BYOB (for passengers, of course) policies at many drive-ins, it likely won’t be that hard to lure your friends to an outdoor theater instead of an indoor one.
Tailor your movie-night theme to what you’re watching — have a Breaking Bad marathon with (oven) fried chicken and blue-ice slushies, or watch American Hustle while eating only food cooked in the microwave.
Second idea: Maybe you just don’t feel like going to a drive-in, because it’s missing the feel and experience of going to the theater. Or maybe you live in a state without any, or there is one but its bathrooms are gross. Instead, check with your cable or satellite provider about whether it has “on demand” movies available to watch the same day they’re released in theaters. These might be mostly independent films you’ve never heard of, but many have famous actors in them (right now, my queue has movies starring James Franco, Christina Hendricks, Nicolas Cage, and Kristen Wiig).
Whether they’re new or not, you can still make watching movies at home feel special and more like an “event” or outing by giving it a theme. For an indoor movie party, make it a theater theme night with whatever movie-themed foods your gut can tolerate right then — that might just be gummy bears for some people, or nachos with cheese for others. Or just make the theme be whatever holiday or season is coming up — since it’s summer, watch an old movie like National Lampoon’s Vacation and eat cotton candy or other theme-park foods. Or make the theme based on what you’re watching — have a Breaking Bad marathon with oven-fried chicken and blue-ice slushies, or watch American Hustle while eating only food cooked in the microwave.
Outdoors, you can get a wireless cable or satellite receiver and lug your TV out there, and engage in movie-themed camping (a form of “glamping”). Your guests can pop Jiffy Pop popcorn and make s’mores over a fire pit or hibachi grill.
Anything with an unusual activity plus interesting food is going to feel special, and your friends won’t mind watching movies in a different, fun way if it allows you to actually see all of it and enjoy it with them. (You could even play a game based on the frequent movie interruptions, like, “Every time we have to pause the movie for someone — me — to go to the bathroom, everyone has to take a drink!”)
Katie McLendon is a CCFA support group facilitator in Atlanta who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2005. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University, and works as an editor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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