I grew up in a small town without traffic lights, fast food and movie houses. I have grown and so has the town; Masvingo became a city in 2002 even though it was the first colonial settlement in 1890 and earmarked to be the potential capital, with its somewhat central location and proximity to the ancient empire that’s where the heart of the country should be, the Great Zimbabwe.
Masvingo has traffic lights too now and some of the popular fast-food establishments have outlets there. Believe it or not, I never tasted a pizza until I finished high school and made my first unchaperoned visit to Harare, the city that never sleeps. I mentioned that there wasn’t a movie house too right? But there was a Masvingo Drama Circle which hosted plays and events at the Charles Austin Theatre and that was the closest thing to a movie experience one could have.
On my first visit to Harare, I had a bit of money saved up and decided it would be a great idea to go on a date with a friend from a school, movies and fast food. I tried to act like all this was familiar to me, rocking up at the Eastgate Ster Kinekor getting tickets, I didn’t even know what movie to pick so I let my date choose. Up the escalators, we went (another first for me) and tried to seem like I knew where to go just follow the crows and fortunately the cinemas had large numbers and posters so you knew what’s showing where.
The movie was quite a blur and I hardly remember it as half the time I was sitting there, a nervous wreck wondering, ok here we are, alone with a girl in a dark room full of other people; what next? Did she expect I might try to put my arm around her, too much? Sweaty Palms. Offer popcorn? The popcorn was a pleasant distraction our fingers would graze each other’s as we dipped into the packet. But honestly though, why movies and popcorn, I don’t know about you but how can you even hear the movie dialogue as you munch through popcorn like your very existence depends on it.
The other half of the movie not spend missing out on dialogue due to the popcorn-munching and being nervous, was spent in the bedazzled exhilaration of being acutely aware of our proximity, every point our bodies touched, shoulders, forelimbs sharing an armrest, feet next to each other. I could hear her heart, wait that was mine, I could hear each beat. For perspective, I went a Mission Boarding school, and they were very strict about boundaries…..
Later we went for a bite to eat a popular food court, I didn’t know what to order so again I let her pick what she wanted figuring I would do exactly as she had done. It was a great plan except when I saw the bill on the cash register and the realisation dawned that I would nearly wipe away all the money I had left; so I ordered a Coca-Cola and mumbled something about not being hungry. We talked as she ate and I sipped on my soda and tried hard not to wonder too much how a pizza tasted like.
She asked for a takeaway bag since she wanted to save some food for dinner. I walked her to her taxis and hugged her goodbye. She smelt like pizza, fries mingled with a Revlon perfume. End date.
Outside of all the awkwardness, the thing that stood out about the date was how I didn’t remember a single thing about the movie I had paid to watch. The craziest thing is that it’s like the universe has conspired that I never watch that movie again… every time I try to watch it something gets in the way, its like a curse…
Once upon a Video Shop I rented the DVD and it refused to play on my DVD player… There are times I have seen it scheduled to show on TV and something always comes up; like screening at times I am not home or this time it rained and there was a signal outage and the other time there was a power blackout.
This one time everything was in order I had it on my USB drive and by golly, I would watch it… I was home alone with no distractions, just me The TV and my USB…. I even decided to drink some boxed wine to celebrate the occasion of finally breaking the curse… In hindsight that wasn’t the cleverest of ideas, as I fell asleep in front of the TV. Don’t remember anything past the title opening sequence… and then when I woke up to the end credits, in my befuddled state, when I tried to rewind, I pressed the red to delete button and that was that…
Do you remember your first movie date?