600 Choice Words for the Chatterers

Peter Mehlman, a television writer and producer, worked on "Seinfeld."

To the couple who talked throughout the entire 7:30 showing of “Crash” in Westwood: I thought e-mail could be a refreshingly civil tack in dealing with such moths in the fabric of society as yourselves. After all, the only cliche worse than talking during a movie is yelling at the people doing the talking.

So, in lieu of invoicing you for 113 minutes of my life, I’m letting you know -- sweetly -- that during the movie, you TALKED EVERY #%&*@ SECOND. (Sorry, my caps stick sometimes.)

Judging from the flakes of Dolby Digital sound that sneaked past your conversation, “Crash” seemed to be about coping with deeply flawed individuals in Los Angeles. How’s that for coincidence?


Here’s a bigger coincidence: Profiling seemed to be another theme of “Crash,” and you neatly fit a movie-talker profile: A long-married couple who check Blackberries during the movie but don’t share popcorn, arm rests or enough common interests anymore to carry on a conversation in your empty nest, which one of you wants to sell now before real estate prices tank, and you worry about how you’ll continue putting brioche on the table during your demographically irrelevant golden years. So you go to the movies to talk. It’s easier there. It’s dark.

Such talking prevents other viewers from being engrossed in a film -- especially a film often described as “engrossing.” Also, many people, when attending a film, like to hear the dialogue. It helps with grasping the plot. The characters’ lips moved, so why not, these people feel, have the whole moviegoing experience?

Not that your dialogue wasn’t intriguing. Twice during the showing, the man in your relationship could be heard using the word “verisimilitude.” The intrigue lies in why he threw around a word that survives only on the pages of writers who try too hard. He wasn’t trying to impress you, the woman in the relationship. You’ve heard him go mega-syllabic a million times. So, he must have said “verisimilitude” for the benefit of those sitting around him.

A thought: In L.A., we have freeway shootings but no movie-audience shootings. Cars and movies are our biggest loves. It stands to reason.... Wait. No. Forget that. Just lost track of my civility for a second.

Funny how that happens, losing one’s civility, despite being constantly reminded how to act around others. Take, for example ... in movie theaters. After the trailers, theater owners give us detailed instructions on how to watch a movie. “Silence is golden,” they say. What do they take us for? Idiots?

Then again, maybe they just take us for good God-fearing Americans who want to enjoy our two-hour break from making America great. That would explain a lot. Here in left-wing L.A., we allegedly don’t fear God. At most, God makes us edgy. Hence: We can talk during movies. Who’s he -- or Loews Cineplex -- to stop us?

Get this: My dad was in the hospital recently. The man in the next bed (we referred to him as my dad’s “rheum-mate”) asked whether his heart monitor was too loud for my dad to hear the TV. Can you be too considerate? No, you cannot. Not to say that you two could take a lesson from that man, but you two could take a lesson from that man.

Anyway, I just read a review of “Crash” and I guessed right: It did deal with L.A. situations like the one we are dealing with now. You’re thinking: How’s that for verisimilitude?

I’m thinking: Contact me whenever you go to a movie so I can plan accordingly.