So, fumbling around with my movie ticket in Berlin as usual, I wonder if it will be the same as in Prague: the queue, the surly ticket salesmonkey, the language problems, the usual. You give them the money and they decide where you sit. Or you decide--if you want to grab them by the neck and twist their screens and their necks to do your bidding. Even after doing the Twist, I still fuck it up. Every single mother fucking time. I can’t do this European cinema seat thing. No, really, it’s completely ridiculous to anyone with a half a brain (as I have). I like to pay and sit in the seat of my choice as all God fearin’, freedom lovin’, rootin’ tootin’, red neckin’ Americans do.
The seat that was assigned to me was already taken. As usual. Apparently, I am supposed to skulk up to the offending bastard and say ‘Entschuldigen, getten sie aus mein sitzplatzt, schweinhund.’ But I am not a Deutschbag. So I don’t say it. I usually just sit in another seat in the vicinity of my originally-assigned seat. Which is all fine and dandy, no blood, no foul…until the Seat Nazi comes in. And suddenly I’m in THEIR seat. They stuff their ticket stub in your face. You fumble for yours. You throw a ticket block, already knowing that you are in THEIR seat and THEY know it. So you have to play the dumb auslander, which pleases them to no end. Or just try to explain it. In this case, the number of the seat was not lit up or posted in shiny letters. It was sewn into the dark red plush fabric in slightly darker red thread. On the seat back, directly behind my back. Imagine my confusion.
‘What? Huh? Oh! You paid for THIS EXACT SEAT, huh? Like, Oh. My. God. I am SUCH an idiot. Mea Culpa. But somebody is already in my officially-assigned seat and I don’t want to have to stand up and walk over there and displace them, looking like a fucking Deutschebag in the process.’
The teenage couple stood hovering over me. The GIRL goose stepped forward, blonde hair and blue eyes flashing in the half light. She looked like Julie Delpy’s cheery, cheeky Hitler Jugend character in ‘Europa, Europa.’ ‘Ja, gut. Zo. Zo you vill shtand up und valk over there, ja.’ It wasn’t a question. It was an order. From the blonde haired, blue eyed member of the Neue Hitler Jugend. I imagine that to certain guys this could be a turn on. Perhaps to sad, lily livered milksops. I can see why the skinny, quivering teen boy had his girlfriend to speak for him in these awkward cases. He was the effeminate, emasculated German Moby male to his girlfriend’s Strong Deutsche Frau. It was a rather pathetic display, a teenage German girl barking orders at a middle aged American man. But what could I do? I was certainly not going to stand up and bitch slap his girlfriend, nossir. I am not a cad. So I stood up, flashed Blondie a condescending smile and did exactly as she told me. She plopped down in my warm seat and gave me the kind of dismissive wave reserved for the blondest members of the Master Race. Cunt.
So I had to push some people over a seat or two. I apologized. I showed them my ticket. They saw me get shifted down by Blondie. They knew I was in the wrong seat and needed my original seat. So they moved. Shit rolls downhill. But as I sat down, the middle-aged German man to my right—the same man who moved his jacket off my seat to let me sit—told me the secret: ‘yes, there are normal people and there are the Seat Nazis.’
‘Yes, I believe I just met one. But she is so young,’ I said, loud enough for the whole row to hear. ‘I can’t believe that young people here are so fucking anal retentive. She should have a Mohawk and a head full of chemicals for Chrissakes.’ As I sat there chewing the fat with the good-humored German gent, I thought about how I really would have no gripe if the cinema was full. Sure, you want yer goddamn pre-planned seat so you don’t have to crane your neck in the front row or the side seats. But every single time the Seat Nazi has pounced on me in the past, the cinema was at half capacity at best. So if someone can’t be flexible enough to forgive the foreigner’s faux pas and find a seat directly in front of or directly behind their originally-assigned seat, this is the hallmark of a Seat Nazi. It is the absolute NEED to flash the party badge (ticket) and send someone to the concentration camp (another seat).
There we sat, 2 middle aged men, one German, one American, discussing ‘these crazy kids nowadays.’ I thought it was backward somehow; don’t the youth of today complain about the rigid, conservative Nazi old people? I imagine a Seat Nazi has no age. It could be anyone with a low self esteem, somehow desperate to cling to any chance to grab a bit of ‘power.’ I was reminded of a quote from ‘The Office:’
“Wow. That is the least amount of power I’ve ever seen go to someone’s head.”